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)


October 2015 Cowlitz County Bird List

Russ Koppendrayer's review of early fall:

The last two months has been highlighted by a couple of flycatchers. A Black Phoebe was found in the north end of the Woodland Bottoms in mid-September and has been seen sporadically since. While both our neighboring counties (Clark and Wahkiakum) have had nesting records of this species making its northward expansion, this is only the second record for Cowlitz. It is very possible this bird could over winter at this spot.  
The Tropical Kingbird found at Willow Grove in late October was a much bigger surprise. While a small number of this species head north instead of south each fall in migration, they are typically found only on the outer coast in Washington and British Columbia. Finding one even this far inland is quite unusual and was a first record for Cowlitz. Unfortunately, it didn't stay around for many to see.
Image Tropical Kingbird, source: MDF CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Download the pdf file here.

June 2015 Cowlitz County Bird List

Russ Koppendrayer take on June:

In the last few years with the growing breeding colony of American White Pelicans on Miller Sands Island in the Columbia estuary coupled with the frequent sightings in the Ridgefield and Sauvie Island areas and into some Portland/Vancouver sites, I assumed these were some of the same individuals. It seemed they needed to be passing through along the Columbia here in Cowlitz County as they traveled between locales, but we had only a couple of reports. That changed this year in an interesting way. We've had a number of reports and over half of them are of someone checking out a soaring raptor and noticing a flock of pelicans high above the raptor. When they pass through they are soaring at altitudes where they are not noticed with the naked eye. Keep your eyes skyward in locations near the river for a chance to see this impressive species.

Download the pdf file here.

April 2015 Cowlitz County Bird List

Sage Thrasher Courtesy of the USFWS

In April many of the neotropical migrants were making their return earlier than normal by as much as two weeks. This was most likely due to the lack of any weather systems that would ground the birds on their trip between here and their wintering areas. The most unusual appearance was made by a Sage Thrasher which apparently took a wrong turn on it's way to the shrub-steppe habitats of eastern Washington. The bird put in a one day showing at the Longview Mint Farm where it was seen by at least seven birders. This species seems to be found in one or two western Washington locales each spring, but this was the first ever record for Cowlitz County.


Download the pdf file here.

May 2015 Cowlitz County Bird List

Image courtesy of WAFWS

There are only a handful of records of Swainson's Hawk for Cowlitz County and we can go years between sightings. In early May there was an adult of this species at the south end of the Woodland Bottoms and amazingly a yearling at the same spot in late May.

Possibly more interesting than the rare bird sightings this spring has been the nesting Great Egrets along Kuhnis Road in the Woodland Bottoms. The only previous western Washington nesting records for this species are from the Port of Kalama for a number of years, but not 2014 or 2015. The Great Egrets join the already nesting Great Blue Herons about a month later and build nests above and alongside just as the trees begin to leaf out, making observation a bit difficult. It appears that there are as many as 10 Great Egret nests this year and can best be seen with a scope from a pull out along Dike Road west of Kuhnis Road near the house boats in the Lewis River.

Download the pdf file here.

Black Phoebe’s at Julia Butler-Hansen Refuge

By Jon Heale

Black Phoebe - Image by Jon Heale

Historically an occasional visitor, the Black Phoebe was a rare sight at the Julia Butler-Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer; there had been a few sightings each year, but no known nests.

In 2014 refuge staff noticed a pair frequenting the covered corner of a tide gate and decided to check it out…a nest! Staff thought there had been a successful first brood, as two to three more Phoebe’s were hanging around throughout late spring-early summer. However, a second clutch of eggs was apparently unsuccessful as they remain in the unattended nest throughout summer.

As I write this (March 13), the Phoebe’s are in the process of building a new nest in the opposite corner of the tide gate. The pair is hard at work gathering blades of grass, stems, and mud. Make a stop into the refuge office and check them out!

They can often be spotted from the Headquarters observation deck, near the tide gate under Steamboat Slough Road.