Habitats

Northern Flicker

Composed of backwater sloughs, irrigated farmlands, river islands, delta mudflats, wetlands and shrub-steppe uplands, McNary is a myriad of habitats. . . .


. . . And although the majority of McNary is either flat or gently rolling, with elevations varying from 340 to 440 feet above sea level, the refuge even offers steep cliff and rock habitats in the Stateline and Juniper Canyon Units, which top out at 1,200 feet.

Refuge ponds and backwaters serve as year-round resting, nesting and feeding areas for many species of wildlife. Seasonally flooded wetlands provide additional resting and feeding areas and are especially important to waterfowl during fall migration. Up to half of Pacific Flyway mallards winter in this portion of the Columbia Basin. The Wallula Delta is the premiere habitat in the region for thousands of migrating shorebirds and wading birds.

The refuge is particularly important to Canada geese, mallards and wigeons, as well as shorebirds and wading birds. Other waterfowl species using the refuge include green-winged teals, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaups. Rare, endangered and "Federal Species of Concern" birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, are found here, as are thousands of colonial nesting water birds using river islands for safe nesting.

While the focus of the refuge is waterfowl, many other species depend on the refuge and its habitats. Wetlands and shoreline bays serve as important nurseries for developing fall Chinook salmon and passageways for endangered steelhead and sockeye salmon. Upland areas—such as the Stateline and Juniper Units just east of Highways 730/395 with their sagebrush, rabbitbrush and bunchgrasses—provide forage for deer and nesting sites for pheasants, ducks, California quail and burrowing owls. Riparian habitat (those bordering a river or stream) supplies plant life and other food, water, nesting sites and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife. Cottonwoods and willows in riparian areas provide essential nesting habitat for migratory songbirds like yellow warblers and willow flycatchers. Approximately 700 acres of refuge lands are irrigated croplands, which provide food and cover for wildlife.