Seasons of Wildlife


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. 

Look also for early-blooming plants brightening the wetlands, including skunk cabbage, fawn lily and Siberian spring beauty.


Over the marshes and grasslands of the Refuge, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks soar while Northern Harriers and White-tailed Kites float low in search of prey. Ospreys hover and dive on their day-long fishing forays, nabbing meals for their hungry and growing broods.


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 down—the 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. 


Sea ducks, waterfowl and shorebirds such as Sanderlings 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. 

Featured Species

The mix of freshwater, saltwater and brackish estuary at Bandon Marsh NWR draws multitudes of ducks and geese each year, as well as waders and divers including herons, grebes, pelicans and cormorants. An assortment of mammals large and small find sanctuary in the refuge's varied habitats. Deer, raccoons, otters and rodents are regular sights here; more elusive are predators such as Bobcat, Coyote and even Black Bear. Wetland habitat abounds at Bandon Marsh NWR. Frogs, newts and snakes straddle the boundary between land and water; below the surface, fishes such as salmon and sole spend their larval stages in estuaries before heading out to sea.