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Bird Checklists of the United States

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Olympia, Washington

Nisqually: A Mosaic of Habitats

Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, marsh and water birds...all are attracted to the mosaic of habitats found on the Nisqually Delta. A five mile long dike separates saltwater habitats from freshwater habitats and creates a land of diversity for up to 300 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. By walking the 5-1/2 mile Brown Farm Dike Trail visitors can view six distinct habitat types and the wildlife that live in them.

Outside the Dike

Outside the dike are saltmarshes and open mudflats washed by the changing tides of Puget Sound. The salty water brings rich nutrients to the variety of clams, crabs, worms, and shrimp living in the mud, while these creatures in turn feed shorebirds, gulls, ducks, and herons.

Inside the Dike

Inside the dike freshwater marshes and open grasslands provide a quiet resting and wintering area for up to 20,000 migratory waterfowl. The grasslands teem with mice and voles, which are a ready meal for hawks, owls, and coyotes. Thick cattails and sedges surround the freshwater marshes and give protection to marsh wrens, soras, bitterns, and salamanders.

Along the Dike

A walk on the Brown Farm Dike Trail also takes visitors through riparian woodland and brush habitats. Careful observers may see winter wrens, red-legged frogs, pileated woodpeckers, and even great horned owls among the large cottonwood, alder, and big leaf maple trees growing along the Nisqually River. Along McAllister Creek, crabapples, roses, and blackberries provide a smorgasbord for songbirds. Watch for evening grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, and finches.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public daily during daylight hours. The trails are open only for walking and pets are not allowed. Bring your binoculars, spotting scope, and camera, and enjoy your visit!

Wildlife Observation Tips

WHEN - Early morning, late afternoon, and when the weather clears after a storm are good times to observe wildlife. Spring bird migration usually goes from mid-March through mid-May, and fall migration from September through December. The refuge is open daily during daylight hours.

WHERE - Be sure to look in a variety of habitats, along the "edges" between habitats, and remember to look high and low as well as at eye level. Please stay on the trails.

HOW - You will see more animals if you are QUIET. Be sure to listen for animal calls or songs, or try sitting down along the trail and waiting.

WHAT TO BRING - Binoculars or spotting scopes are helpful for observing wildlife, and a good field guide will help you identify what you see. You are always welcome to bring your camera and a lunch to eat along the trail. Don't forget your raincoat.

Wildlife Species Checklist

This wildlife checklist contains 176 species of birds that have been observed at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and 36 other bird species listed as accidental. The birds' common and scientific names and taxonomic order are categorized into family and subfamily groups in accordance with the 6th edition (1983) of the A. O. U. Checklist of North American Birds.

Seasons of Occurrence:
Sp - Spring: March - May
Su - Summer: June - July
F - Fall: August - November
W - Winter: December - February

Abundance Notations:
a - abundant: Common and in relatively large numbers
c - common: Seen on majority of visits to proper habitat
u - uncommon: Seen on less than half of visits to proper habitat
r - rare: Seen on less than 10% of visits to proper habitat
accidental - less than 5 records of occurrence on Nisqually Delta. They are not reasonably expected to be found more often than once every five to twenty years - if ever again.

* - Nesting recorded on Nisqually Delta
FT - Federally listed threatened species
FE - Federally listed endangered species
SE - State listed endangered species
SS - State listed sensitive species

GAVIIFORMES Sp S F W Gaviidae - Loons ___ Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) c - c c ___ Arctic Loon (Gavia arctica) r - r u ___ Common Loon (Gavia immer) c u c c ___ Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) accidental
PODICIPEDIFORMES Sp S F W Podicipedidae - Grebes ___ Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)* c c c c ___ Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) c - c c ___ Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) u - u u ___ Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) - - - r ___ Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) c r c c
PROCELLARIIFORMES Sp S F W Procellariidae- Shearwaters ___ Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) accidental Hydrobatidae - Storm-petrels ___ Leach's Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) accidental
PELECANIFORMES Sp S F W Pelecanidae - Pelicans ___ Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)FE accidental Phalacrocoracidae - Cormorants ___ Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) c c c c ___ Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) - - - u ___ Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) u - u u
CICONIIFORMES Sp S F W Ardeidae - Herons and Bitterns ___ American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)* u u u u ___ Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)* c c c c ___ Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) accidental ___ Green Heron (Butorides striatus)* u u u -
ANSERIFORMES Sp S F W Anatidae - Swans, Geese, and Ducks ___ Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) - - - r ___ Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) accidental ___ Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albitrons) r - u - ___ Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) - - r - ___ Brant (Branta bernicla) c - - r ___ Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)* c c c c ___ Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)* u u r - ___ Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)* c r c a ___ Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)* c c a a ___ Northern Pintail (Anas acute)* c r c a ___ Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)* u r - - ___ Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)* c c u - ___ Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)* c u c c ___ Gadwall (Anas strepera)* c r c c ___ Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) u - u u ___ American Wigeon (Anas americana) c r a a ___ Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) u r u c ___ Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collards)* u r u u ___ Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) c r c c ___ Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) r - r u ___ Oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis) r - - r ___ Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra) - - - r ___ Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) c - c c ___ White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca) c r c c ___ Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) c - c c ___ Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) u - u u ___ Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) c - c c ___ Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)* u r u c ___ Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) u u c u ___ Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) u u c u ___ Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) c r c u
FALCONIFORMES Sp S F W Cathartidae - Vultures ___ Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) r r r - Accipitridae - Ospreys, Hawks, and Harriers ___ Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) r - r r ___ Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) accidental ___ Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)FT,SS u u u u ___ Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)* c c c c ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) r - c c ___ Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) r - u r ___ Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) accidental ___ Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) accidental ___ Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)* c c c c ___ Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) u - u u Falconidae - Falcons ___ American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)* u u u u ___ Merlin (Falco columbarius) u - u u ___ Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)FE,SE - - r u ___ Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) accidental ___ Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) accidental
GALLIFORMES Sp S F W Phasianidae - Upland Game Birds ___ Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)* u u u u ___ Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) accidental ___ Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) accidental ___ California Quail (Callipepla californica)* u u u u ___ Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) accidental
GRUIFORMES Sp S F W Rallidae - Rails, Gallinules, and Coots ___ Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)* u c u u ___ Sora (Porzana carolina)* r r r - ___ American Coot (Fulica americana)* u u u u ___ Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)SE - - r -
CHARADRIIFORMES Sp S F W Charadriidae - Plovers ___ Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) u - u r ___ American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) - - r - ___ Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) u - u - ___ Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)* c c c c Recurvirostridae - Stilts and Avocets ___ Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) accidental ___ American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) accidental Scolopacidae - Woodcock, Snipe, and Sandpipers ___ Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) c r c c ___ Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) r - u - ___ Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) accidental ___ Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia)* u u u u ___ Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) u - u - ___ Red Knot (Calidris canutus) accidental ___ Sanderling (Calidris alba) r - r - ___ Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) a u a u ___ Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) c u c u ___ Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) r - u - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) - - u - ___ Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) accidental ___ Dunlin (Calidris alpina) a - a a ___ Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) u - a - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) u - a u ___ Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)* c u c c ___ Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)* r r - - ___ Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) accidental Laridae - Gulls and Terns ___ Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) - - r - ___ Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan) - - r - ___ Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia) c r c c ___ Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) accidental ___ Mew Gull (Larus canus) c - c c ___ Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) c u c u ___ California Gull (Larus californicus) c r c r ___ Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) - - - r ___ Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri) r - r u ___ Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) r - r u ___ Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) a a a a ___ Glaucous-winged X Western Hybrid (Larus sp.) u r u u ___ Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) - - - r ___ Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) u u - - ___ Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - - u - Alcidae - Auks, Murres, and Puffins ___ Common Murre (Uria aalge) u - u c ___ Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) u u u u ___ Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) u u u u ___ Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus) - - - r ___ Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) u r u c
COLUMBIFORMES Sp S F W Columbidae - Pigeons and Doves ___ Rock Dove (Columba livia) u u u u ___ Band-tailed Pigeon (Columba fasciata)* c c c u ___ Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) u r u -
STRIGIFORMES Sp S F W Tytonidae - Barn Owls ___ Barn Owl (Tyto alba)* u u u u Strigidae - Typical Owls ___ Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)* u u u u ___ Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca) - - - r ___ Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma) accidental ___ Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) accidental ___ Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)* u u u u
CAPRIMULGIFORMES Sp S F W Caprimulgidae - Goatsuckers ___ Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) - u - -
APODIFORMES Sp S F W Apodidae - Swifts ___ Vaux's Switt (Chaetura vauxi) - u - - Trochilidae - Hummingbirds ___ Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphoras rufus)* c c - -
CORACIIFORMES Sp S F W Alcedinidae - Kingfishers ___ Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) c c c c
PICIFORMES Sp S F W Picidae - Woodpeckers ___ Lewis' Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) accidental ___ Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)* c c c c ___ Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)* c c c c ___ Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)* u u u u ___ Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)* c c c c ___ Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)* u u u u
PASSERIFORMES Sp S F W Tyrannidae - Tyrant Flycatchers ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus borealis) - u - - ___ Western Wood-pewee (Contopus sordidulus)* - c u - ___ Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)* - c u - ___ Western Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)* c c - - ___ Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) accidental Alaudidae - Larks ___ Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) accidental Hirundinidae - Swallows ___ Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)* a a a - ___ Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)* a a a - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)*c c c - ___ Cliff Swallow (Hirundo pyrrhonota)* c c c - ___ Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)* a a a - Corvidae - Jays, Magpies, and Crows ___ Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) c c c u ___ Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) accidental ___ American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)* c c c c Paridae - Titmice ___ Black-capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus)* c c c c ___ Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Parus rufescens)* c u c c Aegithalidae - Bushtits ___ Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)* c c c c Sittidae - Nuthatches ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)* c c c c Certhiidae - Creepers ___ Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)* u u u u Troglodytidae - Wrens ___ Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)* c c c c ___ House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) - u - - ___ Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)* c c c c ___ Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)* c c c c Muscicapidae - Muscapids ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)* c c c c ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) u - u c ___ Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) accidental ___ Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) accidental ___ Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)* - c c - ___ American Robin (Turdus migratorius)* c c c c ___ Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) - - u c Mimidae - Mockingbirds and Thrashers ___ Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) accidental Motacillidae - Pipits ___ American Pipit (Anthus spinoletta) u - u r Bombycillidae - Waxwings ___ Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)* u c c r Laniidae - Shrikes ___ Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) r - u u Sturnidae - Starlings ___ European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)* a a a a Vireonidae - Vireos ___ Solitary Vireo (Vireo solitarius)* u u u - ___ Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni)* u u u u ___ Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)* u c u - ___ Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)* u u u - Emberizidae - Emberizids ___ Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)* c c c r ___ Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla) accidental ___ Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)* c c c - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)* c c c u ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)* c c c - ___ Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica townsendi) u - u - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei)* c c c - ___ Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)* c c c - ___ Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)* c c c - ___ Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)* u c u - ___ Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)* u c u - ___ Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) accidental ___ Rufous-sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)* c c c c ___ American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) accidental ___ Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) accidental ___ Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) accidental ___ Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)* c c c - ___ Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) u - u c ___ Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)* c c c c ___ Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) u - u - ___ White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) accidental ___ Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) u - u c ___ White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)* u u u c ___ Harris' Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula) accidental ___ Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)* c c c a ___ Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) accidental ___ Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)* c c c c ___ Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)* u u u u ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)* u u u - ___ Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)* c c c c ___ Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)* u c u r ___ Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula)* - u - - Fringillidae - Grosbeaks and Finches ___ Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)* c c c c ___ House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)* c c c c ___ Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) u - u u ___ Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)* c c c c ___ American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)* u c c u ___ Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) c r c u


Staff of the Nisqually NWR compiled the information on species occurrence from data supplied to the refuge office over the years by many individuals. NWR staff, Bill Hesselbart, Refuge Manager; Mike McMinn, Assistant Refuge Manager, and Ellie Henke, Outdoor Recreation Planner, reviewed and refined the species lists. Ellie wrote the habitats text and drew the cover artwork. Dr. Murray L. Johnson, Curator of Mammals, Burke Museum, University of Washington, reviewed the listed mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, and enhanced the accuracy of many details. Bob Mowrey served as editor with Flo Brodie as associate.

Margaret McKenny was a teacher and places like the Nisqually Delta were her classrooms. She visited these wetlands often and brought people of all ages here to explore it, enjoy a day in the field, and to tell them about nature. "Everything speaks its name," she used to say; and it seemed as though she could tell you the name of absolutely every mushroom, plant and animal here if she were put to the task. People found themselves listening to this old-world naturalist and being gently pursuaded that the Nisqually Delta was somehow more than the sum of its parts - it was a larger environment that protected and nourished life and it was worthy of preservation. It supported the resident life forms, including man; and also sustained populations of migratory waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. It had international importance. In those early days, there was no wildlife refuge on the delta and the area was being favored for development by industry. She was one of the first to recognize the impending threat, advocate protection, and influence people to take action. This refuge is her legacy to you and future generations.

For more information, contact:

                      Refuge Manager
                      Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
                      100 Brown Farm Road
                      Olympia, Washington 98516
                      Telephone: 360/753-9467
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Wildlife of Nisqually National 
     Wildlife Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  16 pages.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Wildlife of Nisqually National 
     Wildlife Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  16 pages.  
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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