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Tualatin River
National Wildlife Refuge


Tualatin River NWR Home

Wildlife & Habitat--A Year of Wildlife

Wildlife brochure coverTualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a place to discover an ever-changing panorama of wildlife. As the seasons change, so do the wildlife viewing opportunites. Located on the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge is an important stopover where migrating waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds stop to rest, refuel, and raise their young.

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Female common yellowthroat perched on grass.  Photo by Ed Bustya.Spring is the time to enjoy the bright colors and the singing chorus of migratory songbirds. Many species of songbirds, such as common yellowthroats, arrive in the spring and use the refuge as a place to breed and nest.


Greater yellowlegs feeding in shallow water.  Photo by Ed Bustya.



As seasonal wetlands dry out in the spring, mudflats are left behind. These provide a rich source of invertebrates for migrating shorebirds that are on their journey to their breeding grounds further north.




Seasonal wetland drying up with oak tree in background.  Photo by Ed Bustya.As migration slows, Refuge wildlife focus on raising their young. Broods of wood ducks and hooded mergansers are commonly seen in the wetlands. Also, in summer, wetland basins dry out, allowing wetland plants such as water plantain and smartweed to grow and become the perfect food for migrating waterfowl that arrive on the Refuge later in the fall and winter.

Curly doc plant.  Photo by Ed Bustya.

Female wood duck with 11 ducklings swimming away.  Photo by Ed Bustya.





Two bald eagles perched on snag.  Photo by Ed Bustya.As fall rains begin and temperatures cool, Arctic-nesting birds begin to arrive here from their northern breeding grounds.  In search of open water, food and shelter, waterfowl find what they need on the Refuge.  At the same time, bald eagles become a regular visitor to the Refuge, hunting the increasing numbers of waterfowl found here.

Canada geese flying along bluff in front of housing development.  Photo by Ed Bustya.


WinterFlock of Canada geese.  Photo by Ed Bustya.

Winter is a spectacular time to visit.  Large numbers of waterfowl such as cackling Canada geese, northern pintails, and mallards blanket the Refuge as they eat the rich source of seeds and plants grown in summer.  The Refuge boasts an average of 20,000 waterfowl during mid-winter, and in some years, over 50,000 have been observed in a single day.Wetland Vegetation--food for birds.  FWS photo.