Bird Counts

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Sabine's Gull - Image by LynTopinka.
Sabine's Gull - Image by Lyn Topinka.

We were only able to add one species to our list in the last two months, but what a fun species it was. Cowlitz's second ever record of Sabine's Gull showed up in the Woodland Bottoms and spent at least nine days entertaining a large number of birders from Washington and northwest Oregon. This bird was a juvenile and while quite drab when on the water or walking on the shoreline, it shows a very striking black and white pattern when in flight.

Sabine's Gull - Glaucous Winged Gull - LynTopinka
Sabine's Gull - Glaucous-winged Gull - Image by Lyn Topinka

Sabine's Gull is a very common fall migrant in Washington waters of the Pacific Ocean, but a few do seem to come through the interior of the state with some following the Columbia River downstream. Usually these are seen only by one person as they go by. To have one hang around for nine days is quite rare. This small gull favored a public access stretch of the Columbia that is used by bank fishermen and was finding a plentiful food supply of discarded bait and being around fish carcasses and getting small chunks that came off as the larger gulls pulled the carcass apart.

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - August Update

Long Tailed Jaeger - Image Russ Koppendrayer
Long Tailed Jaeger - Image Russ Koppendrayer

As usual we did not add many species in the last two months at the end of breeding season and the onset of fall migration. The highlight of the period was definitely a Long-tailed Jaeger that showed up on a beach of the Columbia River in the Woodland Bottoms. This species is noted for following the Arctic Tern migration from whom they try to steal food. This occurs well out into the Pacific Ocean and they are seen from land quite infrequently.

There are a very limited number of records away from salt water in the state of Washington. This was one of the bigger surprise sightings of my 20 years of avidly birding in Cowlitz County. Just keeps me wanting to keep getting out there to see what shows up next, and late fall seems to be the best time of year for rarities to show up, so keep your eyes open.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - June Update


Red-eyed Vireo - Source Wikipedia Commens
Red-eyed Vireo - Source Wikipedia Commens

We only added two species in June and both were species that are annually late arriving summer residents; Red-eyed Vireo and Common Nighthawk. However the main reason these were the only two was our ability to find all the other typical breeding species by the end of May. Not only that, but this appears to be the highest number of species recorded in the county by the half way point in the year since the inception of this project.

As is my normal, I will only be updating this list every other month from now to year's end. We do typically get some rarities for the county in fall migration and early winter, so be on the look out.

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - May Update

Black Phoebe - Image Russ Koppendrayer
Black Phoebe - Image Russ Koppendrayer

May saw a continuation of migrants both passing through and the breeding birds arriving. One highlight were the seven Franklin's Gulls that spent a day in the Woodland Bottoms. These gulls with black hoods were enjoyed by a number of birders as they made the second ever record for the county as they passed through to their more inland breeding sites.

Also of interest were a pair of Black Phoebes found at Washburn Road north of Kelso. In addition to being only the fifth record for Cowlitz County they also appeared to attempting to nest. This would be the first breeding record for the county of this species which continues to slowly move its range northward. 

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - April Update

Cassin's Finch - Source: USFWS / David Menke

There was a singing Cassin's Finch found near the parking lot of the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater Lake in early April. In the 11 years of this project, this is only the second time we have recorded this species.

They are more typically found on the east slope of the Cascades from the Ponderosa zone on up to the crest with a few found just on the west side of the Cascade crest. With the east edge of Cowlitz County quite a ways west of the crest this species is only found sporadically in our county. A nice addition to this years list.

Download the pdf here.

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