Go to the Oregon Birding Trails Website for a detailed description of this site. Choose the Willamette Valley Birding Trail. Click on the Trail Guide and choose the Willamette Loop Guide. Section W-1.
Created for the protection of Dusky Canada Geese, this refuge has a mix of wetlands, fields and Oregon ash mixed with cottonwood gallery forest. The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset all year. Most interior trails are closed October thru March, but there is good viewing from the edges year-round. There are two boardwalks on the south side of the refuge (Wintel Rd) that are open all year which provide good access to the woodlands. The Salem Audubon Nature Center, on the northeast corner of the refuge (Ankeny Hill Rd and Buena Vista Rd) provides the only restroom facilities.Directions
Habitat and Birds
Waterfowl is king here, but certainly not the only attraction. In winter the marshes host large flocks of ducks and geese, with tundra swans occasionally mixed in. Mallard, gadwall, northern shoveler, American wigeon, northern pintail and green-winged teal are the most common ducks, but ring-necked duck, ruddy duck, bufflehead, and lesser scaup are usually present, and canvasback, redhead, common and hooded merganser and Eurasian wigeon can often be found as well. Long-tailed duck has been found here a few times. Cackling geese gather in huge flocks, with smaller numbers of canada geese, and the occasional small flock of greater white-fronted geese or a lonely snow goose. Shorebirds, especially dunlin and yellowlegs, also winter here. A wide variety of raptors winters here as well, mostly red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, american kestrels and bald eagles, but including a few rough-legged hawks and an occasional golden eagle.
In summer Great blue herons are common, with a few great egrets and American bitterns mixed in. With the ducks in eclipse plumage, they are harder to identify. Most are mallards, but shoveler, gadwall, pintail, blue-winged, cinnamon and green-winged teal can be found in small numbers. A few Canade geese nest here, but the cackling geese are gone, spending the summer on their breeding grounds in the far north. Red-winged blackbird and marsh wren are common, and yellow-headed blackbird, lazuli bunting and wrentit can sometimes be found. Late summer brings shorebird migration, and many less common species have been seen here, including pectoral sandpiper.
Year-round woodland residents include black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadee, bushtit, red and white-breasted nuthatch, acorn, downy and hairy woodpecker and many others. In winter you may find Hutton’s vireo, ruby and golden-crowned kinglet and hermit thrush, In summer Swainson’s thrushes replace the hermits, and are joined by black-headed grosbeak, western tanager, cassin’s vireo and other migrants.