For people who are passionate about seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, places like Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay are near and dear to our hearts. These coastal estuaries are sites of regional and hemispheric importance for shorebirds and waterfowl and support nine Important Bird Areas. As the fourth largest estuary on the West Coast, Grays Harbor supports a diverse array of birds and marine wildlife, including extraordinary numbers of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. Bowerman Basin (NWR) alone supports 45% of migrating shorebirds in the Harbor (primarily Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, and Short-billed Dowitchers). Marine and estuarine habitats in and around the harbor provide rich foraging areas for loons, grebes, shearwaters, cormorants, pelicans, gulls, alcids, and scoters. Sand spits, dunes, saltmarshes, and other upland areas provide roosting habitat.
Willapa Bay regularly supports large concentrations of wintering and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, which feed in eelgrass beds and intertidal mudflats and roost in marshes and pastures. Dominant species are Western Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher in the spring, and Dunlin in winter. The Bay is also an important wintering site for waterfowl, including Brant, Canada Goose, Mallard, and American Wigeon and other marine birds (e.g., loons, grebes, cormorants). Leadbetter Point, at the southern mouth of the Bay, represents the best breeding habitat for Threatened Snowy Plovers in the state.
Audubon Washington’s recent work in these estuaries has focused on ecosystem health and the urgent and ongoing threats facing these estuaries, including increased vessel traffic in Grays Harbor and the use of the best available science in managing intertidal habitats. We are committed to safeguarding vital estuary habitats for birds and working together with local communities to advance solutions that benefit birds and rural economies.