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)


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - April Update

Vesper Sparrow - Image courtesy wikipedia
Vesper Sparrow - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

Spring migration has really been heating up in late April as usual. I'm always impressed by the number of new species being reported in the county, especially towards the end of the month. A quick scan of the list showed that thirteen new species for the year were logged in the last seven days of April. That is some impressive influx of birds. Some of these birds are arriving to nest in the county, while others are just passing through.

The rarest species for here was a Vesper Sparrow found along Barlow Point Road. There were only two previous records in Cowlitz County for this species that nests in grassland and shrub-steppe habitats. Surprisingly both previous records were in 2018 in April and May just over a month apart on their way to some breeding spot.

Download the pdf here.


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - March Update

Non breeding Caspian Tern - Image courtesy wikipedia
Non breeding Caspian Tern - Image courtesy Wikipedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

We were able to add nine species to our year list in March as migrants continued to trickle in. Nothing was particularly rare as all these species are expected in Cowlitz County. The arrival of Caspian Terns at the mouth of the Kalama River was a mild surprise as we typically don't expect them until early April, but what I found more interesting was that these appeared before any reports at the mouth of the Columbia River. Off the top of my head I don't recall that happening previously. The Ruffed Grouse of course is a year round resident that had escaped detection during the first two months of the year.

As April continues and we get into May migration will really ramp up and we'll add species at a faster pace. So get out there and enjoy migration from your yard or by checking more habitat types. 

Download the pdf here.


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - February Update

Non breeding Pelagic Cormorant - Image courtesy wikipedia
Non breeding Pelagic Cormorant - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

During February we continued to add wintering and year around resident species to our Cowlitz County year list. The flock of Common Redpolls found in mid January were seen occasionally through the first three weeks of the month for over a month's visit. This county rarity was enjoyed by many. 

The rarity added in February was a couple of Pelagic Cormorants in early breeding plumage seen flying downstream at Willow Grove. This appears to be the third record for the county. As the name implies this species is rarely seen away from salt water, with the brackish Gray's Bay being the farthest upstream on the Columbia River to find this species with any regularity.

Download the pdf here.


40th Cowlitz-Columbia CBC Results

Canada Jay - Image by Mary Duvall
Canada Jay - Image by Mary Duvall

By Bob Reistroffer

On January 1, 2022 the 40th 3CBC was held as part of Audubon's 122nd Christmas Bird Count. Eleven field observers and 5 feeder watchers joined and spent a partially sunny day finding 8,620 birds and 90 species. The temperature ranged from 26° to 36°. This was the cold day with ice and snow on many roads that hampered the coverage of the area.

We had several high counts: 39 Common Raven, 154 Varied Thrush, 1 Lesser Goldfinch, 4 Cooper’s Hawk.

Seen during count week:  2 Canada Jays, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Eurasian Wigeon, 2 Canvasback, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Iceland Gull

New to the count this year:  1 Lesser Goldfinch.

Thank you all for a great job.

Hope to see you all next year on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2023.


2021 Willapa Bay Christmas Bird Count Results

By Robert Sudar, Compiler

The weatherman predicted a significant storm for Southwest Washington on Saturday, December 18th, and he didn’t disappoint. Despite having to again institute a “pandemic approach” to organizing the count, 19 counters spread amongst 8 groups in 8 sectors of the count circle, plus two feeder watchers, braved heavy (as in sideways) rain and 30-40mph winds to collect bird numbers for this year’s Willapa CBC. It was the worst weather that anyone could remember for count day and it certainly had a negative influence on sightings. Willapa Bay was very rough and so the usually flotillas of ducks were mostly absent, as were some other typical birds that prefer the open water. There were fewer sightings, and in some cases no sightings. The same can be said for the ocean side of the peninsula. Crashing waves and blowing sand made it difficult to observe and count. But that’s a yearly risk, really – who can predict December weather? – and so this year was an aberration, not the norm.

Overall, 18,486 individual birds comprising 84 species were seen and recorded. The total number of birds is actually slightly more than last year (helped greatly by the 11,625 Dunlin seen) but for comparison, last year we had 88 species and some years we’ve been close to 100. I don’t think this indicates a natural decline, but rather the challenges in seeing what’s there. Last year, I lamented that “there were no Brants, no Greater White-fronted Geese, no Gray Jays, no Snowy Plovers, no Northern Shovelers, no owls of any species, no Coots, no Bitterns, no Sapsuckers and only Common Loons.” This count we still didn’t have any Gray Jays, Northern Shovelers, owls, Coots or Bitterns but we did have 10 Brants, 21 White-fronted Geese, 8 Snowy Plovers, a Red-breasted Sapsucker and all three loon species that we might expect to see in the winter.

Of course, the good news and the bad news and overall drop in species means that there were regular species that weren’t seen, such as Peregrine Falcon and Northern Harrier, and really any members of that family except Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel. Other omissions this year that we would normally expect to see were Ring-necked Duck, Great Egret, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Bewick’s Wren or any warblers except Townsend’s. And last year’s star – Bar-tailed Godwit – was nowhere to be seen this year. But that’s kind of the story every year – each count is different.

There were some unusual sightings, too. We had 6 American Dippers – again! We also had 2 Snow Geese, 6 Chipping Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow. And this year’s star might be the Black Phoebe seen in the North Oceanside sector by Suzy Whittey. That species has been seen more frequently in SW Washington in recent years but I believe it’s the first time it’s been spotted during the count. A Hooded Oriole again made an appearance this year, in the Bay Center area, but unfortunately it was again outside the count week. Bummer! As always, the variety, and the unexpected, are what make birding, and bird counts, interesting!

Many thanks to the counters who persevered through the awful weather to collect another year of valuable data, and especially to Suzy Whittey, who did anther great job of organizing the count and making sure we all had the information we needed to do the job. Next year’s count will be on December 17th. No doubt it will combine the expected and the unexpected, too!



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