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From its brackish tidal channels and mudflats to the rare-plant refugia of its sphagnum bogs and coastal prairies, Nestucca Bay NWR hosts an incredible diversity of habitat types within its 1,202 acres. Numerous plant and animal species find accommodation in the pastiche of marshes, upland meadows and forested lagga transition zone between peat bog and mineral-rich soilrepresented here.

Nestucca Bay Unit

Nestucca Bay Refuge provides important winter habitat for the formerly endangered Aleutian Cackling Goose and serves as an important overwintering site for Dusky Canada geese. Other subspecies of white-cheeked geese, including Cackling geese (Taverner’s and cackling) and Canada (Lesser and Western), also use refuge pastures. The freshwater wetlands and estuarine habitats support thousands of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. These riparian areas also provide essential habitat for Chinook Salmon, threatened Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Steelhead Trout and Coastal Cutthroat Trout. Mammals such as Marsh Shrews, Oregon Voles, Muskrats, Beaver, Mink, River Otters, and Raccoons are common in the marshes and wetter pastures, while Harbor Seals forage over flooded tideflats. Deer and Roosevelt Elk graze the marsh and pasture grasses. The riparian forest patches and the valley forested wetlands support small mammals as well as many amphibians and reptiles, including Long-toed and Pacific Giant Salamanders, Rough-skinned Newts, Pacific Chorus Frogs, and Garter Snakes. The forest areas are used as breeding habitat by neotropical songbirds including Swainson’s Thrush, Wilson’s Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Western Tanager. The forest is also used by other songbirds on a year-round basis, including Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush and Song Sparrow. The recently de-listed California Brown Pelican uses the open waters within Nestucca Bay as foraging habitat in summer and early fall. Peregrine Falcon observations are numerous from fall through spring. Cannery Hill, located on the upper portion of the Nestucca Bay Unit, has several Bald Eagle perching sites. 

Neskowin Marsh Unit

Located about 2.5 miles south of the Nestucca Bay Refuge Unit, the Neskowin unit includes marsh, bogs, forested wetlands, upland shrub and meadows, and adjacent forested uplands. The bog communities are extremely specialized, and include sedge fen, shrub carr—raised hummocks amid marshy pools, an intergrade between swamp and forestand sphagnum bog. The sphagnum bog is significant because it contains the largest known occurrence of acid-forming mire on the Oregon coast.   

The complexity of marsh, forested wetlands and adjacent upland woodlands found within the Neskowin Marsh Unit provide important habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds birds such as Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Hermit Thrush. Waterfowl use the marsh throughout the winter and in the fall and spring migration periods. Species commonly observed include Mallard, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead. Both the Mallard and Wood Duck are probable breeders at the marsh. A variety of other marsh-dependent birds and waterbirds found here include Red-winged Blackbird, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Virginia Rail and Sora. Signs of mammals such as Black-tailed Deer, Roosevelt Elk, Black Bear and Beaver are abundant. Anadromous fish, including Chinook Salmon, threatened Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Steelhead Trout and Coastal Cutthroat use Neskowin Creek for spawning and rearing, and juvenile Coho Salmon also use the marsh as off-channel overwintering habitat. In the spring, thousands of amphibians and numerous egg masses appear in the wetlands, indicating that the marsh is an important breeding area for Red-legged Frogs and Northwest Salamanders. Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles nest in the vicinity and use the wetland and surrounding upland habitat for hunting, foraging and resting.