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Grays Harbor Estuary

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

United States, Washington

Relative Location:

On the pacific coast in Grays Harbor County.

Latitude/Longitude:

46.94N,  124.06W

Category:

Hemispheric

Basis for Designation:

More than 500,000 shorebirds annually during spring and fall migration.

Size:

24346 hectares (60160 acres)

Joined:

March 1995

Site Owner/Steward:

Washington State Departments of Parks and Recreation, Natural Resources, and Fish and Wildlife; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; The Nature Conservancy; Army Corp of Engineers; and a private corporation: Weyehauser 

Site Partners:

 

Human Population within 100 km:

93,000

 

Contact:

Refuge Manager
Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

 Relatively undisturbed estuary including subtidal (open water), intertidal (mudflat), rocky shore (harbor mouth) intertidal emergent (salt marsh) intertidal emergent (scrub/shrub), palustrine forested (forested wetland/willow), palustrine emergent (common reed), and palustrine emergent spoil (fill).

The site is visited by over 500,000 shorebirds annually during spring and fall. It is used as roosting and foraging grounds by shorebirds. 

Counts from various sources report that an estimated 300,000+ shorebirds were observed during an aerial survey of Grays Harbor on April 27, 1993. Ground counts of Bowerman Basin on April 26 and 27, 1993, indicated about 150,000 and 125,000 shorebirds respectively. 

Ecology & Conservation

The species known to use this site include:

Black-bellied Plover
Black Turnstone 
Common Snipe
Dunlin
Greater Yellowlegs
Killdeer 
Least Sandpiper
Lesser Golden Plover
Lesser Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Dowitcher 
Marbled Godwit
Red Knot
Red-necked Phalarope
Rock Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Plover 
Short-billed Dowitcher
Snowy Plover
Spotted Sandpiper
Surfbird
Western Sandpiper
Whimbrel

Grays Harbor is also used by other species of birds such as the Peregrine Falcon, Brown Pelican, gulls, terns, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron and Double-crested Cormorant.

Current threats:

Threats to the area include those associated with expanding economic base and a growing population. Invasive introduced vegetation is also a current threat to the native plant community. For example, Giant Reed (Phragmites Communis) and Spartina are two of these invasive species. 

Special Information

Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival (includes field trips and lectures during the peak of spring migration, last weekend in April, and is coordinated by the Grays Harbor Audubon Society.)

Contact

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge
c/o Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Road
Olympia, WA 98516
Phone: (360) 753-9467

 

Grays Harbor Audubon Society

 

Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival
Phone: 1-800-303-8498

Additional Resouces

 Herman S.G. and J.B. Bulger, 1981. The distribution and Abundance of Shorebirds During the 1981 Spring Migration at Grays Harbor, Washington. U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle, WA. Contract No DACW 67-81-M-0936 64pp.




Washington State Coastal Zone Management Program Amendment No. 3: Approval and Adoption of the Grays Harbor Estuary Management Plan, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Washington state Department of Ecology, Olympia, WA 105 pp.+ appendices



Management and Development Plan Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, Hoquiam, Washington, February 1990, prepared by Grays Harbor Refuge Planning Team, USFWS. 54 pp. + appendices.



Paulson, D.R., 1993. Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. 406 pp.