Thousands of Cackling and Canada Geese take refuge at the Nestucca Bay NWR each winter, including an unusual subpopulation of Aleutian Cackling Goose.
The Semidi Islands Cackling Goose numbers only about 130 birds. They breed on small islands off the coast of the Alaska Peninsula and winter only here. During daytime, they hang out in private and refuge-owned fields in Pacific City, and they spend nights around and on Haystack Rock off the coast. Observing the geese is best from pullouts along Brooten Rd. and Resort Dr. As I scan the geese for the green neck collars that distinguish the Semidi Islands birds, I am rewarded quickly and am left feeling amazed by the flock’s perseverance.
The refuge’s main public birding area, the Cannery Hill Unit, is farther south on Christensen Rd. I park at the lower parking area, where I watch for Bald Eagles and other raptors, then walk two trails, where I look for sparrows, vireos, warblers, finches, and Ruffed Grouse. The Pacific View Trail leads to an observation deck where you can see the ocean, Nestucca Bay, and the Coast Range. — Marcie J. Bushnell
Marcie J. Bushnell is a freelance travel writer and a retired French teacher based in Eugene. She is a member of the Lane County (Oregon) Audubon Society.