Millions of birds migrate annually along the Pacific Coast, flying from Arctic breeding grounds to wintering areas in the south. Calm, protected estuaries and other wetlands provide vital rest stops for birds. These highly productive estuaries supply many birds with the food they need to continue their journey or spend the winter.

Below is a sampling of some of the many birds and animals found in the estuary. Visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information on shorebirds.

Below are just some of the many birds and animals found in the Yaquina Estuary.

Black Brant | Brandt's Cormorant | Great Blue Heron | Dunlin | American Widgeon | Bufflehead | Western Sandpiper | Whimbrel|
Harbor Seal | Beaver | Raccoon

Black Brant
Branta bernicla

The brant is a small goose that winters in the Yaquina estuary. Eelgrass constitutes about 80 percent of the diet of these birds. Dredging and other human activities have reduced the amount of eelgrass in west coast estuaries. Healthy brant populations depend on preserving remaining eelgrass beds.

Hear the call of the black brant – source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Brandt's Cormorant
Phalacrocorax penicillatus

Cormorants and other diving birds may be seen on the surface of the open-water habitat. In the open ocean, cormorants can dive well over 100 feet in search of small fish prey. These marine birds use their feet to propel themselves underwater.

Hear the call of the Brandt's cormorantSource The Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias

Great blue herons are large birds that can be seen wading on the tideflats in search of fish. The heron’s long, crooked neck
allows it to strike quickly at passing fish to grab them with its strong bills.

Hear the call of the Great blue heron - Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Erolla alpina

At low tide, look over the tideflats for shorebirds such as dunlins.

Hear the call of the Dunlin - Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

American Widgeon
Mareca americana

The American widgeon is a dabbling duck. A dabbler feeds by tipping forward and submerging its head and neck to reach for underwater food, generally plants and small invertebrates.

Hear the call of the American wigeon  - Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Bucephala albeola

The bufflehead is one of the smallest ducks, with a large, puffy head and a short bill. The male has a great white patch from its
eye around to the back of its head.

These ducks can be found in the estuary mainly during the winter. They eat small crustaceans, mollusks, snails, insects, and some aquatic vegetation. When feeding in small groups, one sentry usually stays on the surface, while the others dive.

Hear the call of the bufflehead Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Western Sandpiper
Ereunetes mauri

Sandpipers use their bills to collect animals on or just below the surface.

Hear the call of the Western sandpiper Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Nemenias phaeopus

The whimbrel, with its long bill, gathers its food from the surface or just below, feeding on crabs, marine worms, and even berries at times of the year.

Hear the call of the Whimbrel Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Harbor Seal
Phoca vitulina

Harbor seals are often seen in estuaries, either resting along the shore or feeding in the open-water habitat. Food for this marine mammal can include fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and cephalopods.

Procyon lotor

This medium-sized mammal is native to North America. It has a body length of 16 to 28 inches and can weigh between 11 to 57 pounds. Raccoons are extremely dexterous, intelligent and adaptable. Their original habitats were deciduous and mixed forests, but they have extended their range to coastal marshes and urban areas.


American Beaver
Castor Canadensis

The American beaver is native to North America and the official state mammal of Oregon. They are the largest rodent in North America. Adults can weigh between 24 to 71 pounds and be 29 to 35 inches long. Beavers have large, flat paddle-shaped tails and large webbed hind feet. Their forepaws are nimble and used both for digging, and to fold individual leaves into their mouth, and to rotate small, pencil-sized stems as they gnaw off bark. Beavers’ eyes are covered by a special membrane that allows them to see underwater. Their nostrils and ears are sealed while they go underwater. Their lips can also be closed behind their front teeth so they can continue to gnaw underwater. A thick layer of fat under its skin insulates the beaver from its cold water environment.