WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

2020 Cowlitz County Bird List - February Update

Siberian Accentor
Siberian Accentor

By Russ Koppendrayer

WOW! On February 6th 2020 the first ever MEGA-rarity for Cowlitz County was discovered around a small weedy field in the Woodland Bottoms. This Siberian Accentor breeds in the region it's named for and typically winters in Korea and eastern China. It possibly got to Alaska last fall either by poor navigation or blown by winds, and continued its migration south on the wrong continent until it liked the looks of the little patch in our county, where this tiny five and a half inch bird was seen as recently as 2/29/2020. While this is the third record for Washington State, I believe it to be only the fifth for the lower 48, with Idaho and Montana having one each. There is one record in British Columbia that I'm aware of and 20 or so in Alaska. The vast majority of the Alaskan records are from islands in the Bering Sea during fall migration however.

Within a couple hours of its discovery the Siberian Accentor had been publicized on Birder list serves in both Washington and Oregon as well as a national Rare Bird Alert Facebook page, all with directions to its west end of Stenerson road location as well as the attached photo on the Facebook page. So thus the Accentor Chase Mania began. By Thursday afternoon of the day it was found there were about 25 avid birders there hoping for a glimpse of this rarity. The crowds would swell to many times that Friday through Sunday before slowly thinning out as time passed. Throughout its stay it has been a test of patience for many as the Siberian Accentor can disappear into vegetation for hours at a time before popping up for a few minutes. It does seem to be punctual about 10-15 minutes before official sunrise to stop in the top of a small apple tree by the last driveway on the north side of the road. It is there for anywhere from two to seven minutes. 

Hoping to add this Asian rarity to their life list or big year list or just curious because it's so rare has brought people from around the country to this little dead end road near Woodland. I wish there had been a way to do some kind of head count along with home bases for all these visitors. Left to my own devices I've counted all the posts to eBird (a Cornell University site to share your findings) and found over 450 individual posts and growing. Being aware that some have seen the bird and posted more than once I believe there have been about 425 individuals that have posted. Since it is my estimation that less than half the visitors post to this web site, I believe that we are approaching 1000 birders that have seen this bird, if we haven't already surpassed that figure. This includes visitors from at least 22 states I've been able to document including Hawaii and numerous Atlantic seaboard state.  

Also in February a Black-legged Kittiwake was seen from Gearhart Gardens dining on the smelt run. This was the second ever record for Cowlitz County.

Download the pdf here.

Scopes in Woodland


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