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Ghnwr2007 2008

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  • 1. For more information on GHNWR, contact: Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge c/o Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge 100 Brown Farm Road Olympia, WA 98516 (360) 753-9467 www.fws.gov/graysharbor A FIELD GUIDE TO GRAYS HARBOR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Photo: Chehalis Basin Education Consortium The Chehalis Basin Education Consortium is a partnership comprised of Educational Service District 113, the Chehalis River Council, school districts, natural resource agencies, and institutions of higher education. The primary purpose of the CBEC is “to support stewardship of the Chehalis watershed through environmental education by linking Washington's learning goals and standards to environmental issues that are part of this watershed.” Want to get involved? If you are a 4th—12th grade teacher interested in becoming involved with the CBEC, please contact: Kathy Jacobson, CBEC Coordinator at (360) 464-6722 or kjacobson@esd113.k12.wa.us Name: ______________________ Date: _________________________ Funding for the GHNWR Interpretive Field Studies and Guide provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Educational Service District 113.
  • 2. Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge (GHNWR) GHNWR was established in 1990, to conserve habitat for a variety of wildlife, particularly migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The refuge is located within Grays Harbor Estuary, at the mouth of the Chehalis River, which makes up the second largest watershed in Washington. The refuge is located on Bowerman Basin. The basin is especially important to shorebirds as it is last place to be flooded at high tide. This gives the shorebirds more time to locate and feast on invertebrates in the mudflats. Photo by Dan Varland The refuge protects about 1,500 acres of intertidal mudflats, salt marsh and upland habitat and is one of four major staging areas for migrating shorebirds in the Pacific Flyway. Shorebirds gather here in spring and fall to feed and rest. From late April through early May, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds concentrate on the muddy tideflats of the estuary. Shorebirds gather here to feed, store up fat reserves and rest for their non-stop flights to their northern breeding grounds. Grays Harbor is designated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site, recognizing Bowerman Basin as internationally significant shorebird habitat. Although the refuge occupies only two percent of the intertidal habitat of Grays Harbor, it hosts up to 50 percent of the shorebirds that stage in the estuary. You Can Help Protect Migratory Birds and Other Wildlife While at the Refuge…  Stay on the boardwalk at all times.  Walk and talk quietly while observing wildlife.  Observe animals from a safe distance.  Leave all plants and animals where you found them.  Carry out all of your garbage.  Leave your pets at home.  Tell others about your experience. Photo: Visitors to GHNWR At Home…  Properly dispose of all motor oil, paints and household chemicals.  Help stencil storm drains with the message, “Dump no wastes, drains to estuary.”  Be informed about land use issues in your community. Birds and other wildlife are losing areas that they need to feed, nest and rest.  Keep learning about wildlife and the healthy habitats we all need.  Be a wise user of water and electricity.  Recycle and reuse things you use around your house. Along the Beach and Waterfront....  Join efforts to plant buffer strips along the waterfront.  Protect and restore riverside grasses, shrubs and trees.  Keep a safe distance from birds and other wildlife. Never chase or flush birds or other wildlife.  Keep your dog on a leash and clean up after your pet.  Pick up litter. On Your Boat....  Observe posted speeds and “no wake” signs. Waves damage shorelines and increase erosion.  Secure loose items so they don’t o overboard and become marine waste.  Be vigilant about repairing oil and gas leaks from boat engines. 20
  • 3. REFLECTION PAGE II: Something I did well today… USE THIS GUIDE to observe, explore and discover the importance of GHNWR to migrating shorebirds, waterfowl, birds of prey and other wildlife. The guide contains photographs and information on key plant and animal species. Pages have been setaside for you to sketch and record your own observations and inquiries. Keep this guide handy to learn what native plants and animals you CONTENTS Estuaries………………………………………………………........…….............2 Birds.................................................................................................3 Animals...........................................................................................11 Plants ..……………………………………………………………........……..……12 Trail Map.................................................................................. 9 - 10 Activities......................................................................... 7 - 9, 17 - 19 I strongly believe… Photo: List at least two questions that you are going to find the answers to once you are back at school: This program is made possible through partnerships between Educational Service District 113’s Chehalis Basin Education Consortium , Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, Grays Harbor College, Grays Harbor Audubon Society with funding by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Wildlife and Wildlife Foundation. 19 1
  • 4. What is the Grays Harbor Estuary? REFLECTION PAGE I: The best part of the trip was… Saltwater from the Pacific Ocean mixes with the fresh water from the Chehalis River to form Grays Harbor Estuary. Twice a day, the tide from the Pacific Ocean comes into Grays Harbor and covers the marshes and mudflats. When the tide recedes, vast mudflats and saltmarshes are exposed. Estuaries are among the world’s most biologically productive ecosystems. Plants grow abundantly in estuaries and when the plants die, the dead plants materials provides food for snails, clams, worms, birds and other wildlife that live in the mud, marshes and open water. Estuaries are also vital because: Estuaries are a nursery, feeding, spawning, resting, and migration area for salmon and other fish. Chum, pink and chinook salmon fry and fingerlings may spend months in estuaries, feeding, growing, and adjusting to salt water. If I were a shorebird, this is what I would like about Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge… Estuaries are also important because….        They are a breeding, feeding, staging, and migration area for birds. Two thirds of the fish and shellfish we eat spend part of their life in estuaries. Nearly 50 % of all endangered and threatened species in this country utilize estuaries. They act as filters for pollution, helping to clean our waters. They hold sediment which helps to prevent flooding and erosion. They are like sponges and absorb water during big storms. And, estuaries are a popular tourist destination! 2 18
  • 5. -CREATE YOUR OWN FIELD PAGEList special sights and sounds that you experienced today and/or sketch one of your favorite sights today. BIRDS COMMON YELLOWTHROAT Geothlypis trichas Habitat: Grassy fields, wet meadows and marshes; it nests near to or on the ground. Description: Small and stocky. Male has a broad black mask and a bright “ yellow throat” and breast. The female lacks the black mask and is a more olive color. Its call is a “wichity wichity wichity wichity wich.” Niche Notes: Mainly eats insects. Interesting Facts: A recent study showed that males with large black masks were more likely to win mates than males with small black masks. The males perform song flight displays, especially during the late afternoon. The male gradually ascends into the air, climbing to a height of 20 feet or higher, whereupon he utters a number of short sputtering notes, followed by song. He then drops back to the ground. MARSH WREN Cistothorus palustris Habitat: Fresh and saltwater marshes, wet meadows, coastal dune grass. Description: Small and stocky, with tail held upright. Niche Notes: Nests in cattails, bulrushes and spirea/ hardhack. Eats land and aquatic insects and spiders. Interesting Facts: Local marsh wrens build up to 22 “dummy” nests which may help with predator avoidance. Males have up to 200 songs, which resemble the sound of a sewing machine. NORTHERN HARRIER Circus cyaneus Habitat: Wet meadows, salt-water marshes, and fields. Description: A 16-24 inch, slender-bodied hawk with distinct facial disks and a conspicuous white rump patch. In flight, the wings are held in a shallow "V." When startled, makes a "ke-ke-ke-ke-ke" sound. Niche Notes: Eat small mammals such as voles, mice, shrews, also small rabbits, small birds, reptiles, amphibians, and large insects. Hunts primarily by sound. Interesting Facts: Circus is the Greek term for “circling hawk.” Some males manage to feed two or three nests of about five young each at the same time. 17 3
  • 6. GREAT BLUE HERON Ardea herodias Habitat: Forages in many types of open habitat from stream and pond edges to wet meadows and upland fields. Description: Large grayish blue heron. Niche Notes: Feeds on fish, small animals and other prey. Interesting Facts: Nests in colonies in trees. Its voice is a very deep, hoarse, trumpeting or croaking “fraaahnk.” RED-TAILED HAWK Buteo jamaicensis Habitat: Common and widespread. Nests in tall trees with open feeding areas nearby. Description: Stocky and broad with rounded wings and tail. Adults have a striking red tail. Niche Notes: Feeds on small mammals and occasionally on snakes. Interesting Fact: The eyesight of a red-tailed hawk is eight times better than a humans. The raspy cry of the red-tailed hawk is used in movies to represent any eagle or hawk anywhere in the world. COMMON REED Phragmites autralis Habitat: Freshwater and brackish wetlands on every continent except Antarctica. Description: Stout, tall up to 14 inches reed-like perennial, with hollow stems. The leaves are stiff with loose sheaths that twist in the wind. Niche Notes: May provide cover for small mammals and food and nesting habitat for some birds. Interesting Facts: It is considered an undesirable, noxious weed in Washington state, as it is highly aggressive and out-competes other plant species. LYNGBY’S SEDGE Carex lyngbyei Habitat: Tidal marshes and flats, estuarine meadows, brackish marshes. Description: Stems single or in clumps from well developed creeping rhizomes. Flat leaves. Niche Notes: It is prime forage for geese during spring migration and for trumpeter swans and grizzly bears as it contains as much as 25% crude protein when young. Interesting Facts: Lyngby’s sedge is a pioneer colonizer of tidal mudflats, and is our dominant species in tidal mudflats, growing in dense, almost pure stands. OPEN WATER PEREGRINE FALCON Falco peregrinus Habitat: Uncommon in open areas. Description: Large, sleek and powerful; with pointed wings and a short tail. The Peregrine has a dark head, uniformly patterned underwing, and gray or dark barring on belly. Niche Notes: Feeds mainly on songbirds, shorebirds, and ducks. Interesting Facts: It is the fastest bird in the world, the Peregrine dives on prey at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour! Its name comes from the Latin word peregrinus meaning “foreigner” or “traveler.” 4 EELGRASS Zostera marina Habitat: Sandy or muddy intertidal areas. Description: Long, thin, green leaves. Z. marina has leaves up to three meters (10 feet) in length. Z. juponica leaves are finer and don’t exceed 15 centimeters. The seeds are contained in translucent packets. Niche Notes: Brant geese eat eelgrass as a staple part of their diet. Ducks and other waterfowl also dine on its seeds and leaves. Interesting Facts: Eelgrass is considered a critical habitat in support of marine fisheries. It is commonly referred to as a nursery for many fish and crustaceans. 16
  • 7. CASCARA Rhamnus purshiana Habitat: Transitional area between wetlands and uplands. Description: Cascara is a small tree with a smooth, gray bark. Its yellow-green leaves are oval and have distinct parallel veins. Small, green flowers develop into small green to purple-black berries. Niche Notes: Quite a few species eat cascara’s fruit. Up to onequarter of a pileated woodpecker’s diet may consist of these berries, when available. Band-tailed pigeons, sapsuckers, thrush, raccoon, and mule deer also feast on the fruit. Interesting Facts: Cascara bark is collected and made into a laxative. Native Americans also used it for this purpose and for other medicines. The berries were used for food. RED ALDER Alnus rubra Habitat: Disturbed areas, stream edges and moist woods. Description: Alder may be found as a crowded shrub or a tree as tall as 80 feet. The bark is thin, smooth, and marked with horizontal lines called lenticels. Leaves are pointed ovals, with toothed, rolled under edges. Niche Notes: Birds, such as goldfinches, chickadees, and pine siskins, eat the tiny seeds in alder “cones.” Elk and deer may also eat the twigs or foliage. Beaver browse leaves. Interesting Facts: Alder actually adds nitrogen to the soil. Bacteria, living in nodules on its roots, take nitrogen out of the air and enrich the soil. Alder provides excellent wood for smoking fish and carving. Its bark was boiled for a dye. SALT MARSH PLANTS SALTGRASS Distichlis spicata Habitat: Tidal marshes, and seashores. Description: A sod-forming perennial with solid stems. The leaves are erect, short and stiff with a yellowish-green color. Niche Notes: Saltgrass is an important food for birds, insects and voles. The dense areas of grass are used by animals to hide from predators and for nesting. It is also the larval food plant for several species of butterflies. Interesting Facts: Saltgrass has adapted to living in environments with high amounts of salinity by having salt secreting glands on the surface of its leaves. 15 SHOREBIRDS: As many as 24 species of shorebirds use Grays Harbor Estuary. These Arctic bound shorebirds, coming from as far south as Argentina, are among the world’s greatest migrants. Many travel over 15,000 miles round trip! From June through October, the shorebirds return to the estuary in lesser concentrations on their way south during the longer fall migration period. Thousands of shorebirds, primarily dunlin, stay for the winter. WESTERN SANDPIPER Calidris manure Habitat: Mudflats and sandy beaches, representing 8590% of the shorebirds present at the refuge during migration. Description: Small, grayish bird with dark legs. Joins group of small sandpipers known as “peeps.” Niche Notes: Eats crustaceans, mollusks and marine worms. Interesting Facts: In migration, the western sandpiper stages huge spectacular flocks, from the Pacific Coast to Alaska, with more than 6 million birds. Western sandpipers migrate over 250 miles per day between stop-over points. DUNLIN Calidris alpine Habitat: Sandy beaches and mudflats. Often in large flocks that move slowly, probing busily in mud or shallow water. Description: Dunlins are medium sized sandpipers, with fairly long bills with a distinctive droop at the end. Niche Notes: Feeds on crustaceans, mollusks and marine worms using the a “sewing machine action.” Interesting Facts: Birders describe them as “the little old man.” SEMIPALMATED PLOVER Charadrius semipalmatus Habitat: Beaches and tide flats. Most common plover. Description: Slender, dark-backed bird with white underparts, conspicuous black breast band and white face markings. Their call is a soft musical “tsowee.” Niche Notes: Their diet includes mollusks, crustaceans and marine worms. Interesting Fact: The killdeer, which this bird resembles, is about twice as large and has two black bands across its breast. 5
  • 8. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola Habitat: Open mudflats, beaches and fields. Description: In flight, note white tail and wing stripe; all plumages have “black armpit” on white underwing, and breeding plumage has all-black belly. Niche Notes: Eats worms, clams, snails, and crabs. Interesting Fact: The alertness of this species is well-known. It is believed that this species even changed its stopover points to avoid hunters! DOWITCHER Limnodromus spp Habitat: Mudflats and shallow muddy ponds along the coast. Description: Dowitchers are stocky, long-billed sandpipers, and an entirely white rump. Niche Notes: Dowitchers feed on insects, crustaceans, and marine worms by rapid, rhythmic, vertical sewing machine-like probing, often in water up to their bellies. Interesting Fact: Despite their names, long-billed and short-billed dowitchers are extremely similar and best distinguished by their calls. Short-billed have lower sounding calls than long-billed dowitchers. RED KNOT Calidris canutus Habitat: Coastal mudflats, tidal zones, sandy beaches. Description: Large and sturdy, with relatively short legs and bill. Rich red under parts. In flight, note wing stripe, gray rump and tail, and very long wings. Niche Notes: During its migration, feeds primarily on mollusks, marine worms and crustaceans. Interesting Fact: Red Knot is one of the champion long-distance migrants of the bird world, with some individuals migrating from their high Arctic breeding grounds in North America to wintering grounds in extreme southern South America. Red Knot's propensity for gathering in huge flocks at traditional staging areas makes it vulnerable to habitat degradation and destruction and to hunting pressure in South America. 6 HORSETAIL Equisetum sp. Habitat: Wet, disturbed areas. Description: A jointed stem, up to 24 inches tall, is surrounded by whorls of wiry branches and small, scaly leaves. Niche Notes: Whistling swans or a hungry black bear may eat horsetails, but overall they are of little value to wildlife. Interesting Facts: Horsetails are known as “scouring rush” because the silica in their stems makes them tough and abrasive enough to scrub pots. Native Americans also used the stems to polish arrows and for an invigorating body scrub. The juice was used as an eyewash. The spore cone was mashed with salmon eggs and eaten. The stem and root were eaten with whale or seal oil, boiled for a hair rinse, or woven into baskets. SCOTCH BROOM Cytisus scoparius Habitat: Open sites, especially on disturbed sites, but also invades natural meadows, forests. Description: Small, spindly, deciduous shrub with typical ‘pea flowers.” Niche Notes: Little value to wildlife. Interesting Facts: Highly invasive plant that has endangered many of our region’s rain shadow flora. WILLOW Salix ssp. Habitat: Found growing on the banks of ponds and streams. Description: Long, narrow and pointed leaves. Excellent for reclaiming riverbanks or wetlands because of its extensive root systems and ability to quickly take root. Niche Notes: Willows provide cover and attract insects. Grouse and grosbeak will eat its buds or tender twigs. The dusky-footed wood rat eats its foliage and catkins. Interesting Facts: Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. Native Americans chewed the bark as a pain reliever. 14
  • 9. THIMBLEBERRY Rubus parviflorus Habitat: Open hillsides and along streambanks Description: A low scrambling deciduous shrub. Flowers re a showy white, with thimble like groups of berries. Niche Notes: Fruit is eaten by birds, bears and s small mammals including coyote, raccoons and skunks. Thickets are good nesting habitats for many small birds. Interesting Facts: Naïve people enjoyed the berries fresh in the summer and dried in the winter. The bark was boiled and made into a soap, and leaves used to make a medicinal tea. BIRD FIELD NOTES 1. Take a quick look around the wetland. How many birds do you see? ___________ Move a short distance away from the rest of the class and stand or sit down where you can see most of the wetland. Sit as quietly as possible. Listen and look carefully. Do you hear any sounds? _______ Describe the bird sounds: ____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ Try to see the birds that are making each sound. TWINBERRY Lonicera involucrata Habitat: Moist forest, streamside, swamps and thickets. Description: Woody, branching honeysuckle shrub with yellow tubular flowers and black shiny twin berries. Niche Notes: Are a favorite of bears, and are also known as “bearberry honeysuckle.” Flowers attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Interesting Facts: The bitter tasting berries are known as “ravens food” and “monsters food” by northwest coastal people. The Haida people rubbed the berries on the scalp to prevent hair from turning grey. BIRD # Coloring of Breast/Back Bill Type Leg Length 1. 2. 3. 4. SEDGES Carex spp. Habitat: Standing water or saturated soils. Two species, Lyngby’s and slough sedge, are tolerant of brackish water. Lyngby’s is more salt-tolerant than slough sedge. Description: This grass-like plant has triangular stems and fibrous roots. If it has leaves, they are grass-like and shaped like a ‘w’ when cut across their width. Niche Notes: The small seeds of sedges are eaten by birds such as ducks, rails, grouse, and songbirds. Pika and chipmunks also eat the seeds and leaves. Sedges provide valuable cover for wildlife. Interesting Facts: Native people weave baskets using sedge. 13 3. Use your binoculars or a spotting scope to scan the water and shoreline carefully. Can you see any birds? Record your observations here: Type of Bill: A. B. C. D. Curved down Curves up Short and stout Long and thin 7
  • 10. 4. What do you think are the names of he birds that you saw? PLANTS FOREST/ FRESH WATER WETLAND # 1: WESTERN SWORD FERN Polystichum munitum # 2: # 3: # 4: 5. Why do you think that birds have different types of bills? Habitat: Abundant in moist forests. Description: Grows in clumps with fronds 20-25 inches long. Niche Notes: Provides cover for wildlife and serves as a host plant for some butterflies. Elk, deer, black bears, and mountain beavers forage on the fronds. Interesting Facts: Native people used fronds to line baking pits and for bedding and flooring. Young curled leaves can be chewed raw and swallowed for sore throats. Today picked for decorative purposes. TRAILING BLACKBERRY Rubus ursinus 6. Watch a single bird that is probing in the sand or mud for food. Can you tell when the bird finds food and when it doesn’t? How? 7. How many times does the bird poke in the sand or mud before it finds something to eat? 8. In flight, how can shorebirds protect themselves from predators? 8 Habitat: Common and often abundant on disturbed sites, thickets and dry, open forest and low to middle elevations. Description: Vines trailing, armed with slender, curved prickles. Toothed leaves are alternate with sets of three leaflets. Produces delicious berries. Niche Notes: The ripe berries are a favorite of bears, hence the species name ursinus, meaning bear in Latin. Interesting Facts: Also known as dewberry and pacific berry, the trailing blackberry is our only native blackberry. SALMONBERRY Rubus spectabilis Habitat: Moist lowland forests, wetlands or along streams. Description: Shrub grow 3 - 10 feet tall. Yellow to red, often salmon colored fruit. Toothed leaves; older stems have orange bark that is thin and papery. Niche Notes: Birds and mammals eat the fruits. The early blooming flowers are an important food source for insects and hummingbirds. Deer graze the twigs, stems, and leaves. The thickets provide important cover for birds. Interesting Facts: Salmonberry signals the return of salmon as it is one of the first flowering berries. 12
  • 11. ANIMALS BLACK TAILED DEER Ococoileus columbianus Habitat: Wooded areas. Description: A tan or reddish-brown in the summer and grayish-brown in the winter. Niche Notes: Commonly eats green plants in the summer, nuts in the fall, and the buds and twigs of woody plants in the winter. Interesting Facts: The scent glands found on the inside of their legs are used by deer for identification, dominance, and during mating season. Males shed their antlers between January and March, with the antlers growing again in April or May. Stop and draw a bird that you have been observing. Look at the shape and posture of the bird. Consider bird anatomy as you sketch, paying special attention to the relative proportions of the head, wings and tail. Whether you sketch a hawk, or sandpiper, all birds have oval, egg- shaped bodies. The differences are in the wings, tails and legs giving each species a distinctive form. Watch carefully to see at what angle the bird holds its body, and then begin to assemble body parts, outlining head and neck, wings, tail and legs. GARTER SNAKE Thamnophis ordinoides Habitat: They are usually found in a variety of moist habitats, but seem to avoid dense coniferous forests. Niche Notes; Garter snakes are active during the day, and feed primarily on slugs, earthworms, salamanders, frogs and tadpoles. Description: Up to four feet long, they are usually yellow or red striped against a plain or checkered background color. They breed in late spring to early summer, and the females give birth to about a dozen young in August and September. Interesting Facts: Garter snakes swim readily and when pursued, can hide for many minutes among the rocks at the bottom of a stream. Garter snakes are not poisonous, however, they may use the smelly contents of their anal glands as a defense mechanism. Now draw a picture of the estuary: HARBOR SEAL Phoca vitulina Habitat: Harbors and bays along the Pacific Coast. Description: The harbor seal has short, thick fur, grows to be up to 6 feet long and can weigh up to 375 pounds The whiskers help the seal's sense of touch. The nostrils are closed in the resting state. Niche Notes: Harbor seals are carnivores and eat mostly mollusks (like squid and clams), fish, and crustaceans. Interesting Facts: Harbor seals are hunted by orcas, sharks, steller sea lions, walruses, eagles and coyotes. 11 9
  • 12. Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge Saltmarsh Mudflats Open Water ld irfie erman A Bow LEGEND Refuge Boundary Note on this map where you observed wildlife and discovered evidence of wildlife. For example, where you found bird feathers, animal tracks or places where birds have probed in the mud. 9 Sandpiper Trail Blacktop Road 10

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