Shallow, expansive alkali lake that crosses California/Oregon border. Susceptible to serious evaporation during even brief times of drought. Marshes on private land to the north and other surrounding habitats significantly extend the utility of the area's numerous waterbird species, although most of these wetlands have been converted or modified for agricultural use. The last Hardstem bullrush marsh in Goose Lake Valley is found on private land just north of the lake. This property was recently under consideration for purchase by USFWS, but the deal did not go through.
Most other major lakes in the area are post-breeding areas (Summer Lake and Lake Abert), but shorebirds use this lake as a breeding area. American avocets, Willets, and Killdeer nest on the south end of the lake and most likely produce more chicks than Lake Abert and Summer Lake combined. This may be explained by lower salinity, access to fresh water, and island habitats that make it difficult for mammalian predators to reach nests. Goose Lake is a significant staging area for migrating shorebirds, including over 10,000 American avocets.
(From US Shorebird Conservation Plan, Intermountain West Regional Shorebird Plan, Version 1.0, Goose Lake appendix by Susan Haig).
Most of the wetlands surrounding the lake are privately owned. Several recent restoration projects funded in part with North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants preserve the agricultural interests of the landowners while meeting the habitat needs of fish and birds. Restoration of natural hydrology returns shallow spring flooding that once characterized this country, yet allowing for grazing later in the season when migratory and breeding birds have departed. --From Oregon Habitat (newsletter of the Oregon Habitat Joint Venture, February 2007).
Important staging area for Western and Clark's grebes (small numbers nest here). High use by waterfowl in spring and to a lesser degree in fall. Up to 10,000 Tundra swans, peaks of at least 30,000 geese and 100,000 ducks. Moderate numbers of shorebirds. Important Pelican foraging area (see Smith et al. 1984. Smith, M., T. Steinbach and G. Pampush. 1984. Distribution, Foraging Relationships and Colony Dynamics of the American White Pelican in SE OR and NE CA. Unpublished Report. The Nature Conservancy, Portland, OR.
Gary Ivey's nomination estimates up to 30,000 geese in March and up to 10,000 Tundra swans in March.