Oregon Coast Officials: Suggestions for Bird Watching in December
(Oregon Coast) – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recently released some interesting information about the many kinds of birds to look for on the Oregon coast this month. Though it's winter, areas around Pacific City, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Newport, Florence, Astoria and just about any beach are home to varied species. (Photo above of a sea duck called a scoter, courtesy Seaside Aquarium).
At the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Pacific City, geese are returning, according to ODFW.
The pastures here attract six different subspecies of geese right now, including Western Canada goose, dusky Canada goose, Taverner's Canada goose, lesser Canada goose, Aleutian cackling goose and cackling goose. The refuge provides habitat for the only coastal wintering population of dusky Canada geese. A visit to the refuge and the greater Nestucca Valley between early November and late March will provide you with views of 7,000 to 8,000 thousand geese.
You'll find the refuge about six miles south of Pacific City, off of Christensen Road.
ODFW said loons, grebes and scoters are hanging out at jetties, such as at Newport, Waldport, Rockaway Beach and Astoria.
“Chief among these are the large and elegant loons. Pacific, red-throated, and common loon all spend the winter months along the Oregon coast,” ODFW said. “Western, red-necked, and horned grebes favor slightly calmer areas along the coast such as waters between jetties and estuaries.”
ODFW said thousands of these stout sea ducks can be seen rafting in ocean waves not far from the shore. These hardy birds are scoters and dine on mussels and other shellfish. Three species winter along the coast: surf scoters, white-winged scoters and black scoter. The surf scoter is the most common followed by black and then white-winged.
December is full of lots of varied thrush along the Oregon coast now, too. They've been migrating south from breeding grounds up north. It's about the size of a robin, ODFW said, with a dark grey-blue back and throat band set against a burnt orange breast and belly. Varied Thrushes eat berries and seeds in winter, but during the summer they forage for insects.
You'll find them in the trees of regional forests along the beaches, including state parks like those around Cannon Beach, Seaside, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay or Yachats.
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