Seasons of Wildlife

PROMO intro Lily 512x219

Siletz Bay Refuge encompasses coastal conifer and hardwood forest, estuarine tidelands and freshwater riparian habitats. It is an environment of transitions: freshwater to salt, shaded canopy to exposed delta, turbulent river to stilled embayment. Even the inhabitants are in constant flux, from amphibians metamorphosing in bogs and resident birds donning breeding plumage in spring to spawning salmonborn in freshwater and raised in saline depthsforming rivers of flesh that pour upstream from the sea. 

  • Spring

    PROMO List Spring 150x118

    Flocks of migrating birds and waterfowl swell the ranks of resident and overwintering populations. Some stop only briefly on the estuary to feed and rest, soon resuming their migration north to Arctic breeding areas. A few linger longer before heading farther north, while others remain to join resident populations that will court and build nests in the marshes, meadows, and forests on the fringes of the estuary. Most will be rearing fledglings by season's end. Stay alert for uncommon neotropical migrants such as the Black-throated Gray Warbler, at left.

    Siletz Bay is host to spring migrations of anadromous fishes, moving through on their way to freshwater spawning grounds. Spring Chinook Salmon usually arrive in May, and American Shad from late April through May. 

    Look also for early-blooming plants brightening the wetlands, including skunk cabbage, Siberian spring beauty, salmonberry and many others.

  • Summer

    PROMO List Summer 150x118

    On the marshes and backwaters of the estuaries, Mallard, Wood Duck, and merganser parents trail trains of fuzzy ducklings behind them. Ospreys hover and dive on their day-long fishing forays, nabbing meals for their hungry and growing broods.

    Returning Brown Pelicans, so graceful on the wing, make crashing spectacles of themselves when they spot forage fish swimming below. They tuck their wings, stretch their necks, and simply let gravity take its course. They're a summer delight, and their numbers are increasing along Oregon's coastal bays and estuariesa hopeful sign for a species nearly wiped out in the 1970s by DDT poisoning.

  • Fall

    PROMO list Fall 150x118

    Thousands of shorebirds migrate along the Oregon coast in the fall, using estuaries as stopover habitat to feed and rest. Shorebird numbers peak in September as they fly south to wintering areas. Tiny Green-winged Teal are the first to show up, usually in September, in their sporadic, darting-and-diving flocks. The first bad weather up north drives other dabblers downthe Mallards, Pintails and Gadwalls. After Thanksgiving, diving ducks pour in with every storm front.

    Raptors such as Sharp-shinned Hawks monitor the estuary's margins, alert to unsuspecting prey birds. Siletz Bay and its surrounding estuarine marsh is an excellent place to watch migrating shorebirds and waterfowl.

  • Winter

    PROMO List Winter 150x118

    Sea ducks, waterfowl and shorebirds such as the Sanderlings at left are abundant during the winter. Common species include Surf, White-winged and Black Scoters, Buffleheads, Common and Pacific Loons; and Western, Horned and Red-Necked Grebes. Estuaries host wintering ducks, geese, and a variety of raptors. Beyond Salishan Spit, Gray Whales can be seen migrating south along the coast in December and January on their journey to calving grounds in the coastal lagoons of Baja Mexico.