Clarks Nutcraker
Clark's Nutcracker - Image courtesy of USFWS

By Russ Koppendrayer

The month of February did a very nice job of filling in our list of wintering species as well as year round resident birds. In the last week we also welcomed back the first early neotropical migrants of 2024. Both Violet-green and Tree Swallows as well as Rufous Hummingbirds made an appearance. Another interesting find was a hybrid duck with a Tufted Duck being one parent and a scaup being the other. 

The star of the month was a Clark's Nutcracker found on the road leading to Signal Peak. This was only the fourth record for Cowlitz County, all occurring since 2007. It seems highly likely that this species was more prevalent in this county before the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980. The Clark"s Nutcracker population was larger then and there was better habitat here. Record keeping of bird species at the county level became much more prevalent from the late 1980s up to the present in the state of Washington.

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