Get Involved

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From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources. 

More than 200 nonprofit Refuge Friends organizations support national wildlife refuges, whether they work with a single refuge, a refuge complex or an entire state.  Friends members are crucial to conserving and protecting our nation’s wildlife and teaching millions of Americans that their actions today determine the conservation legacy of tomorrow.  

More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century.  Become a volunteer or Refuge Friend to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources.

Our volunteers at Nestucca Bay Refuge lead bird walks, help with coastal prairie restoration, conduct bird counts and surveys, provide informal interpretation, build and maintain nest boxes, and help with upkeep of facilities and hiking trails.


NestWatch is a citizen-science project and nest-monitoring database run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The program teaches citizens across the United States about bird breeding biology by engaging them in collecting and submitting nest records. At Nestucca Bay NWR nineteen nest boxes were installed in 2011 for cavity nesting birds. Five volunteers consistently monitored the nest boxes to record data, including nest site location, habitat, species, and number of eggs, young, and fledglings. The data are gathered on official forms and entered into the national database. These observations are compiled with those of other participants in a continent-wide effort to better understand and manage the impacts of environmental change on bird populations.

This season all the boxes were home to Tree and Violet-Green Swallows. On average, two to three Swallows successfully fledged per box. The program is also a great interpretive opportunity. Visitors frequently comment on how much they enjoy watching the birds flying in and out of the boxes. If you are interested in being part of the NestWatch program, please contact volunteer coordinator Dawn Harris. For more information on NestWatch, visit

A similar project on the refuge benefits Purple Martins, a large swallow species that commonly nests in human-made structures. Jack Hurt, a longtime USFWS volunteer and birder extraordinaire, built and installed a six-unit martin "house" at Nestucca Bay NWR in March 2014. The house succeeded in attracting several swallow species (Tree, Barn, Violet-green, and Cliff) that summer, including a handful of martins that subsequently claimed it as territory. Purple Martins have been observed around the Nestucca Bay area during migration, but none are known to nest on the refuge. The signs of territoriality are hopeful, Hurt thinks. He continues to monitor their comings and goings and reports his tallies on eBird. Future observations will determine whether Nestucca's martin houses are a success. 

Read a detailed profile of the Purple Martins at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.