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WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

Please send information about wildlife sightings to our Wildlife Sightings Chair.

To see some recent Washington State bird sightings go to the Tweeters list. To subscribe to Washington State Tweeters or to get more info about Tweeters visit WA Tweeters.

Sandhill Crane (WDFW Image)

 

2021 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Surf Scoter - Image courtesy of John and Margret Green
Surf Scoter - Image courtesy of John and Margret Green

By Russ Koppendrayer

We've managed to add five species since the last update at the end of August. A Semipalmated Plover was actually seen in mid August, but not on the eBird accepted list until September. The rarest find was the county's fourth record of Broad-winged Hawk seen by a hawk watcher in the Woodland Bottoms where all previous records also occurred during fall migration. All these records have occurred in three of the last four years, which would seem to imply that they may have been passing through in small numbers for years since this hawk watch has only been happening for four years. The ridge just east of I-5 just north of Woodland may just be one of the primary migration corridors in western Washington for hawks and especially Turkey Vultures. 

Also of interest was the number of reports of Surf Scoter in October. While we expect to see small numbers in the Columbia River as they migrate through in October through early November we had a group of six at Willow Grove and a number of reports from the Woodland Bottoms area. Three were even in the ponds of the former Longview sewage treatment facility, which is not an annual place for them. Furthermore all these birds were either females or juvenile males with no adult males present. Who knows what is driving this phenomenon. 

Download the pdf here.

 

2021 Cowlitz County Bird List - August Update

Pectoral Sandpiper - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer
Pectoral Sandpiper - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer

By Russ Koppendrayer

As usual the July and August period was slow for new additions to our list of species seen in Cowlitz County for the year. This year all three additions were from the shorebird group. Specifically they were Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher.

The dowitcher we find every year at some time as they move through in both spring and fall migrations in small numbers and even will overwinter sometimes. The two sandpiper species are almost exclusively fall migrants through Washington state however, and then in fairly small numbers. Spring migration records of these species are quite rare as they move through the middle of North America at that time. While we do find Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers in Cowlitz County most years we do sometimes miss them completely due to a lack of much shorebird habitat in fall as many places go completely dry.

Download the pdf here.

2021 Cowlitz County Bird List - June Update

Least Flycatcher - Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Least Flycatcher - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

Through the first twenty-nine days of June we had only added Common Nighthawk and Red-eyed Vireo to our year list, both of which are traditional late arriving migrant nesting species in Cowlitz County.

Then on the last day of June our second ever record of Least Flycatcher was found along Hummocks Trail in the Mount Saint Helens National Monument. This species is one of the look alike members of the genus Empidonax or commonly shortened to empids by birders. A recording of the unique che-bek calls of this individual was obtained for documentation. Least Flycatcher is common in woodlands east of the Rockies in the northern tier of states and well up into southern Canada, and a few make it into northeastern Washington to nest every year. While having one in southwest Washington is not unheard of, this is the only individual found west of the Cascades in 2021 to the best of my knowledge.

Download the pdf here.

 

2021 Cowlitz County Bird List - May Update

Black Tern - Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Black Tern - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

We had a nice month of May with newly returning migrants found on a regular basis. Mixed in with the more expected species were a couple that are rarely found in Cowlitz County.

Very early in the month the third county record of Lewis's Woodpecker showed up on Port of Kalama property and put on a nice show for a few birders for at least two days. While it can look plain black in flight this woodpecker is quite striking when seen well. Dark green back and head gives way to a red face with a white throat and upper breast with a red/pink belly. Quite an unusual look for a woodpecker that also has an unusual favorite feeding style for that family. It will find a high perch to survey the area and then sally forth to catch large insects that it spots in flight. A foraging technique more common to flycatchers than woodpeckers.

Late in the month a Black Tern put on a show at Coldwater Lake for a single birder while feeding over the lake. This individual seemed to be part of a rare incursion of this species into western Washington as there were quite a number of reports both north and south of us. Most years this species is completely absent west of the Cascades. While this was a treat for the individuals that got to see them, hopefully it doesn't mean there are problems for them in their usual haunts and they are searching new territory. Time will tell.

Download the pdf here.

 

2021 Cowlitz County Bird List - April Update

Whimbrel - Image courtesy of USFWS (public domain)
Whimbrel - Image courtesy of USFWS

By Russ Koppendrayer

For the most part we had a very typical month of April, with a new species being added to our list every day or two as migration picked up steam. With only one exception these ranged from species that will soon be abundant to ones that travel through in small numbers and are seen most years, but sometimes completely missed. The exception was a small flock of eight Whimbrels that were seen in the Woodland Bottoms establishing only the third ever record for Cowlitz County.

Whimbrel is quite a distinctive large sandpiper with a long, decurved bill. The only similar species expected in our area would be Long-billed Curlew which has an even longer bill, and also has cinnamon brown under wings and buffy underparts as opposed to the more gray/brown look of the Whimbrel. This year's birds were only seen in flight at about tree top level, and the 2015 group of fifteen birds were also in flight, while the first county record consisted of a flock of over thirty Whimbrels that spent six days of late May 2012 feeding in a farm field in the Woodland Bottoms. Here they would find enough food to fuel their next leg of their migration from possibly coastal Mexico to northern Alaska. Migration is such an awesome spectacle to watch and we have another month plus to enjoy this spring.

Download the pdf here.

 

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Upcoming Events

Dec 18;
Leadbetter CBC
Dec 28;
Wahkiakum CBC
Jan 01;
Cowlitz Columbia CBC
Feb 18-20;
Winter Wings Festival
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