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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)

 

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Surf Coters - Image by John Green
Surf Scoters - Image by John Green

We added three species to our Cowlitz year list  in the last two months, (Surf Scoter, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Pacific Loon) all of them being code 4. These codes are a way of determining the likelihood of finding a particular species and relate to the color of the square in the column immediately after the species name in the attached list.

  • Code 1 - Blue - You should find this species in appropriate habitat at the correct time of year.
  • Code 2 - Green - More difficult to find, but should be found in appropriate habitat in correct season with some effort.
  • Code 3 - Yellow - Recorded in the county annually, but you may or may not find one personally even with great effort. 
  • Code 4 - Orange - Five or more records of the species in the county, but does not occur every year.
  • Code 5 - Red - At least one, but less than five records within the county.
  • White - This species occurs on the Washington list, but has never been recorded in Cowlitz County.

Lets hope this makes the list more meaningful to some and one purpose of this project is to update these codes occasionally, usually in early January. 

To obtain a checklist of the birds found in any county in Washington with the code numbers go to wabirder.com and click on checklists on the left side of the page. There you scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the desired county on the map and get a list that you can print out.

Download the pdf here.

 

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - June Update

Dickcissel - Royce Craig
Dickcissel - Photo by Royce Craig

2018 is half over and we have seen birds in winter, in migration and in breeding season. This means further additions will be slow, but usually of the unexpected variety for the last six months. 

Easily the highlight of the last couple months was a Dickcissel showing up at a bird bath on Pleasant Hill Road between Castle Rock and Kelso where it made use of the facilities and was never seen again. It certainly does pay to have a water feature in the yard. This first ever record for Cowlitz County was not only noticed by the residents, but well photographed. Assuming this bird is accepted by the Washington Bird Records Committee it will be the sixteenth record for the state. With the excellent photographic documentation we would expect no problem with acceptance.

Download the pdf here.

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - March Update

Tufted Duck/ Greater Scaup - Lyn Topinka
Tufted Duck/Greater Scaups - Lyn Topinka

Migrants continued to trickle in during March and we also found a few year around residents that had been missed in the first couple months of 2018. There was one bird that didn't fit either of these categories however. That was the female Tufted Duck found in the Columbia River at Woodland in a Greater Scaup flock on 3/24 and was still being seen daily as of this writing on 3/31. Most Tufted Ducks winter in Asia with western Washington seeing two or three in a typical winter.

For some reason this is the first one seen in Washington in 2018 and created quite a stir with all the state big year listers coming to find this bird to add to their year list of birds. Add that to the newly avid birders for whom this was a life time first as well as other local birders and there has been quite a few folks who have seen this individual.

Tufted Duck - Digiscoped - Lyn Topeka
Tufted Duck - Digiscoped - Lyn Topeka

This is the third record for this species in Cowlitz County and the first female, although all three have been in the Columbia River at Woodland. In 2013 there was a first winter male that was present for about three weeks and in 2015 an adult male was seen for only a few days.  

Download the pdf here.

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - April Update

Vesper Sparrow - Terry Anderson
Vesper Sparrow - Terry Anderson

We arrive at the end of April during the heart of migration with new species arriving in the county daily. It's fun to be out there looking for them or just kicking back and seeing them arrive at our feeders.

The most exciting April sighting for a number of us was the second Cowlitz County record of Vesper Sparrow. This one day wonder was found foraging right at roadside along a fence line in the Woodland Bottoms and was seen by numerous birders for the rest of the day. Despite a number of people searching for hours, the bird could not be relocated the next morning as it had likely moved on.

Vesper Sparrow is a grassland species that is common in appropriate habitat east of the Cascades in Washington, with small nesting populations in a couple west side locations, notably Joint Base Lewis McChord and a beach area on San Juan Island. A few migrating birds are found annually in other western Washington spots and this one was a treat for some local birders.

Tufted Duck - Digiscoped - Lyn Topeka
Vesper Sparrow - Terry Anderson

Download the pdf here.

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - February Update

Barn Swallow - JJ Cadiz
Barn Swallow - JJ Cadiz

We added a few resident as well as wintering birds in February that we had missed in January. At the end of the month the first of our spring migrants began to appear, with Tree Swallows, Turkey Vulture and Rufous Hummingbird all making an appearance. Barn Swallows were already seen in January, which was part of a wide spread presence of this species in western Washington this winter.

What was unusual about this was the quantity of the reports as we expect some winter appearance of Barn Swallows. After the last migrants leave in late October there may be no Barn Swallows seen until early January, then there will be random sightings until late February. Then another gap in reports occurs until the first spring migrants appear about April first.

This odd seasonal pattern has led some to theorize that the winter birds are not our local breeders trying to over winter, but rather birds from southern South America that have migrated north for the austral winter, then when it comes time to return south for nesting they mistakenly continue north and end up here, where they slowly succumb to the weather conditions. To the best of my knowledge this theory has not been confirmed by DNA research as of yet. 

Download the pdf here.

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Sep
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