The International Brant Monitoring Project
Project Partners

Yaquina Birders and Naturalists

Observation Area: Yaquina Bay and Lincoln County along the Oregon Central Coast

Yaquina Birders and Naturalists is a group interested in the natural history of Lincoln County, along the central coast of Oregon.

YB&N will contribute to the International Brant Monitoring Project by reporting Brant sightings in Lincoln County by members and nonmembers of YB&N. Phil Pickering occasionally does seawatches with a telescope at Boiler Bay along the open coast about 13 miles north of Yaquina Bay. Brant seldom land there, but he can directly observe their migration along the ocean shoreline. Range Bayer will also include Brant censuses at embayment areas of Yaquina Bay, where Brant overwinter. Brant also occasionally show up during spring migration at Siletz and Alsea Bays in Lincoln County.

Brant customarily overwinter at three estuaries in Oregon: Tillamook and Netarts Bays along the northern coast in Tillamook County and at Yaquina Bay. Roy Lowe and Dave Pitkin of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) note that the number of Brant wintering in Oregon declined about 50% in 1994 from the 1981-1993 period and that the declining trend has continued for censuses through 2002 with the two lowest counts since 1981 occurring in 2000 and 2002. At Yaquina Bay, as many as 269-503 Brant were counted each December during 1980-1991, but in recent years fewer Brant have overwintered here.

The USFWS Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex office at the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center is adjacent to Yaquina Bay. Project Leader Roy Lowe and other USFWS staff are interested in Brant.

The Marine Science Center also includes a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research lab.

Educational facilities at Yaquina Bay include the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center and Oregon Coast Aquarium. The HMSC Nature Trail is along part of the western side of Idaho Flats, a mudflat where Brant are common during winter.

Online reports about Brant at Yaquina Bay include:

1) Wetzel, David J. 1996. Brant Use of Yaquina Estuary, Lincoln County, Oregon in the Spring of 1976. Journal of Oregon Ornithology 6:715-722.

2) Bayer, R. D. 1996. Censuses of Black Brant at Yaquina Estuary, Lincoln County, Oregon. Journal of Oregon Ornithology 6:723-780. (This updates material in Bayer, R. D. 1983. Seasonal occurrences of ten waterbird species at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Murrelet 64:78-86.)

Additional material about Brant at Yaquina Bay that is not available online includes:

1) Merrifield, K. 1998. Waterbird censuses of Yaquina Bay, Oregon: March 1993-February 1994. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Diversity Program. Tech. Report 98-1-01. (This is QL684.O6 M471 at Oregon State University Libraries.)

2) Pitkin, D. S. 2000. Wintering ecology, site fidelity and breeding origins of Black Brant in Oregon. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 2127 SE OSU Drive, Newport, OR 97365. USFWS biologist Dave Pitkin researched overwintering Brant at Tillamook, Netarts, and Yaquina Bays, but he no longer works for the USFWS. In particular, Dave monitored Brant with neck collars and determined how long some individuals resided and where they were banded or nested. An excerpt from the Pacific Flyway plan states:

"In a 1995-1998 study, 75% of marked brant wintering in Yaquina Bay were from mainland breeding sites near Liverpool Bay, Northwest Territories. At Netarts Bay, marked wintering brant included 50% from the Liverpool Bay areas and 50% from breeding colonies near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (Pitkin 2000). Very strong site fidelity was exhibited by brant wintering at Yaquina Bay and Netarts Bay, and most wintering brant appeared to be sedentary from mid-November through March on Oregon estuaries (Pitkin 2000)."

Thanks! Range Bayer, president of Yaquina Birders and Naturalists