WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

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Sandhill Crane (WDFW Image)


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - Final

 Clark's Grebe from wikimedia
Clark's Grebe - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

During the last two months of 2022 we added three species to our Cowlitz year list. All of them were waterfowl found in the Woodland to Kalama stretch of the Columbia River. Red-breasted Merganser and Pacific Loon we find most years with an occasional miss. The Clark's Grebe was the prize find of the period as we can go numerous years between sightings of this species.  

Overall 2022 was a great year for birders in Cowlitz County with the 208 species recorded being only one shy of our all time record of 209. We had no misses of our annually expected species. Also there were no new species added to the all time list with super rarity finds. Of the species that started the year with less than five records we managed to locate nine.

2023 got off to a rousing start when a bird was found from a species never before seen in Cowlitz County. But that remains to be detailed here a month from now. Time to get out there and enjoy another year of birding.

Download the pdf here.


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Long-billed Curlew_wikimedia
Long-billed Curlew - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

As frequently happens, the September and October period of fall migration brought a few new species to Cowlitz County for our year list. This year it was a total of six new species giving us 203 for 2022. Surf Scoter and Pectoral Sandpiper are annual or nearly so, while Semipalmated Sandpiper is a little less frequent but not a huge surprise. Both of these sandpipers are a bit unique in that they are very rare in western Washington in spring migration, but are expected to pass through in the fall. 

The biggest surprise of the period was the county's second record Long-billed Curlew found on a sandbar in the Columbia River in the Woodland Bottoms. Unfortunately it was only seen by a few before being displaced by the incoming tide and disappearing, not to be relocated.

The late September through early October migration of Turkey Vultures along the ridge line east of I-5 north of Woodland has been attracting more counters the last few years. This year the biggest day was October 8th when 1014 passed by. Counters also added Lewis's Woodpecker to the year list with single individuals seen on two different days. There's only been a handful of previous records of this woodpecker. Five years ago when vulture counting started our first record of Broad-winged Hawk was seen in Cowlitz County. This year three different birds were seen and that makes it four out of the last five years they have been seen migrating through. 

Download the pdf here.


2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - August Update

Common Tern_wikimedia
Common Tern - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

With a week to go in August I thought we'd have no additional species to report for the last two months.

Then in the last four days we added two species. Both Baird's Sandpiper and Common Tern were found at the mouth of the Kalama River on the gravel bars at low tide. Baird's Sandpiper is a species seen in Cowlitz County during fall migration, but only about one out of every three years. Common Tern is seen even less frequently as this is only the third ever record for the county, all in August or September.

With fall migration in high gear now we hope to make a few more additions in the next couple months..

Download the pdf here.

2022 Cowlitz County Bird List - May Update

Red-necked Grebe - Image courtesy of the USFWS
Red-necked Grebe - Image courtesy of the USFWS

By Russ Koppendrayer

May was a fun month for birders in Cowlitz County as the cool and especially rainy weather caused many birds to stop off here during their migration. For a number of species this meant we got to enjoy many more individuals of the species that pass through. The rarest find was a single Dusky Flycatcher which was the 6th record for the county. I noticed it shows as a code 5 species on the list while it should be a code 4. Hopefully we can get that updated for next year's list.

A more interesting occurrence in May was the first ever record of a couple species in that month. Red-necked Grebe is a fairly regularly occurring species in the lower Columbia River from fall through early spring. Typically they are gone by the end of March with a few April records. To have one in full breeding plumage spend a few days in May in the river near Kalama was a nice treat. The second unique May appearance was a Say's Phoebe. An individual or two of this very early migrant headed for arid areas east of the Cascades will put in an appearance in our county most years. Typically this is in very late February or March. By mid April a few of us were saying that we had likely missed them this year, when one showed up in the Woodland Bottoms during May and spent a few days to be enjoyed by numerous birders.

Download the pdf here.


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.