Common goldeneyes are one of the many species of waterfowl that winter at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is for the birds! Established in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect migrating and wintering populations of brant, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other migratory birds, the refuge is rich in birdlife any time of the year.

  • Bird Watching

    Bird watching is excellent at the refuge with a chance to view over 200 species/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Willapa National Wildlife Refuge offers abundant opportunities to watch wildlife, including over 200 species of birds.

     Checklist of Birds See a species list of birds that are found in or near the refuge…

    Get viewing tips from the pros - discover the places to be for the best encounters and more.


  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

    2017 whsrn bird photo

     Site of INTERNATIONAL Importance for Shorebirds

    In March 2017, Willapa Bay and Long Beach Peninsula was designated as a site of international importance by WesternHemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).

    Site of International Importance Certificate (pdf)

    Learn More
  • Shorebirds Unite us and Connect us

    SHOREBIRDS Willapa and the Long Beach Peninsula

    A local effort providing tips for protecting shorebirds and shorebird habitat.

    Learn More
  • Willapa Bay, a designated shorebird reserve

    Willapa Bay

    From late April throughout May, hundreds of thousands of migratory shorebirds arrive at Willapa Bay. They perform an amazing spectacle.

    Learn More
  • Waterfowl

    Canada geese nest at the refuge/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Large and small, Willapa NWR has a diversity of ducks, geese and even a few swans. From migrants who stop at the bay to feed to breeding populations of wood ducks, there are always interesting waterfowl to observe.

    Discover the diversity of refuge waterfowl...

  • Grouse

    Ruffed grouse make their home in the forests of the refuge/Photo Courtesy of Madtinman

    These chicken-like birds that are highly designed for walking, these birds will fly when flushed but will quickly come back to ground. The two species of forest grouse at the refuge are sooty and ruffed.


  • Loons and Grebes

    Common loons frequent Willapa Bay in the fall, winter and spring months/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Loons and grebes are diving birds built for an aquatic life. Their bodies float low on the water like a submarine that has surfaced.

    Discover more about the loons and grebes you can observe at the refuge...

  • Shearwaters

    Northern fulmars, like other members of the shearwater family, have enlarged nostrils/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Ocean traveling birds, shearwaters only come to land to nest. During summer months they can be viewed from ocean beaches.

    Find out more about shearwaters…

  • Cormorants

    Pelagic cormorants have white patches on their hind quarters/Photo Courtesy of Linda Tanner

    These long water birds swim low in the water with necks raised high. With a long, hooked bill cormorants snag prey while swimming underwater. Three species overlap along the Pacific Coast. Discover which species…

  • Pelicans

    Brown pelicans are a common summer sight along the ocean beach/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    These large water birds have huge bills and a large pouch which they use to collect prey. Brown pelicans are highly gregarious and frequent the refuge during summer months. They dive after prey from heights up to 65ft (20m).

    Find out more…

  • Herons and Bitterns

    The great blue heron's S-shaped neck gives it fast striking power/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Shallow wetlands and shorelines throughout the Refuge provide ample feeding sites for wading birds, such as the great blue heron.

    Learn more about the wading birds that call the refuge home…

  • Plovers, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers

    The short-billed dowitcher uses its long bill to probe in the mud for invertebrates/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Coastal beaches, extensive mudflats, sloughs and shorelines offer rich feeding grounds for this diverse group of migratory birds. Some shorebirds gather in large mixed flocks, while others forage alone.

    Uncover the clues to identify Willapa's shorebirds…

  • Gulls and Terns

    Gulls have a multi-purpose bill and will eat nearly anything/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Gulls and terns are versatile birds that use a broad range of habitats, including fresh and salt water, sandy beaches and fields. Terns have angular wings and pointed beaks. Both terns and gulls have webbed feet.

    Explore the numerous species of gulls and terns found at the refuge... 

  • Alcids

    The pigeon guillemot is a black bird with red mouth linning/Photo Courtesy of Dick Daniels

    This family of birds is the Northern Hemisphere’s penguin equivalent. Built for diving, alcids have a football shaped body, webbed feet, and wings better designed to fly underwater than in the air.

    Discover the diversity of alcids living in the refuge…

  • Turkey Vulture

    Turkey vultures have a featherless head to help them stay clean while eating carrion/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Dark colored birds, with bare, brightly colored heads, vultures are designed for a life searching for and eating carrion.

    Learn more about the vulture’s role as clean-up crew…

  • Raptors

    All raptors, like this sharp-shinned hawk, have keen eyesight and a sharp, hooked bill/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Raptors have sharp, curved beaks and strong feet and talons with which to catch and eat their prey. 

    Learn more about the osprey, falcons, eagles and hawks of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

  • Owls

    Barn owls are the only white and gold owl/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Fringed and fluffy feathers provide owls with nearly silent flight.

    Learn more about these nocturnal hunters...

  • Hummingbirds

    Rufous hummingbirds nest at the refuge/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The smallest of all birds, hummingbirds have diminutive bodies and long slender bills.

    Learn more about the unusual flight and crazy courtships displays of refuge hummingbirds…

  • Belted Kingfisher

    The belted kingfisher has a large head, crest and bill/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    A stocky bird, with a big head and shaggy crest, the belted kingfisher is always found near water.

    Uncover additional facts about this kingly bird…

  • Woodpeckers

    All woodpeckers, like this pileated woodpecker, have strong chisel-shaped bills/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Adapted for a life of drilling holes in trees, woodpeckers have chisel-shaped bills, strong feet, and long, sticky tongues.

    Discover more about refuge woodpeckers…

  • Perching Birds

    The western tanager is a colorful tropic bird that nests at the refuge/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    These birds have strong feet and gripping toes to perch. Sometimes called “songbirds”, birds in this group sing to establish territory or attract mates.

    Find out more about the perching birds that use the refuge…