Bird Counts

2020 Wahkiakum Bird Count Results

By Andrew Emlen

The Wahkiakum Christmas Bird Count circle straddles the Columbia River, including Cathlamet, Puget Island, Elochoman Valley, and parts of the Skamokawa Valleys in Wahkiakum County, Washington; and Westport, Brownsmead, and Knappa in Clatsop County, Oregon. The Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge and most of the Lewis and Clark Refuge are also within the circle.

For the 23rd annual Wahkiakum CBC on December 29, 2020, 19 volunteers counted 60,501 individual birds representing 109 species (there were two additional count week species). This is close to average - pretty good, considering that we had half a dozen fewer participants than usual.

The most abundant species this year was Cackling Goose at 19,750, followed by Greater Scaup (14,531), European Starling (4235), and American Coot (3297). Unusual species include the first White-tailed Kite on the count since 2012.

When I started the Wahkiakum count in 1998 White-tailed Kites had been expanding their range northward and were regular here through the early and mid 2000's, with the population peaking at 11 for the count circle in 2006. Their population in Washington plummeted after the heavy snow of 2008-9, and our numbers for the Wahkiakum count dropped to 4, then 2, then 1 for 2011 and 2012 before they were gone. The present individual can still be found along North Welcome Slough Road, Puget Island, where many birders have gone to view it. Puget Island also had three Turkey Vultures on this year's count - this is the fourth year in a row Turkey Vultures have wintered on Puget Island, after no previous Wahkiakum CBC records. 

New high counts were set this year for eight species (for each I have this year's numbers, followed by the previous high count in parentheses):

  • Mourning Dove 66 (64)
  • Northern Flicker 67 (64)
  • Black Phoebe 12 (11)
  • Horned Lark 58 (44)
  • White-crowned Sparrow 139 (97)
  • White-throated Sparrow 9 (6)
  • Western Meadowlark 65 (41)
  • Brown-headed Cowbird 22 (13)

Notable among these are the large number of "Streaked" Horned Larks. Since this subspecies was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in October 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers has been managing their dredge spoil islands to maintain habitat for the larks, and it appears to be helping them.

Also notable is the increasing number of Black Phoebes, which have been expanding their range northward and have been breeding successfully in Wahkiakum and Clatsop counties in recent years.


Read more: 2020 Wahkiakum Bird Count Results

Cowlitz-Columbia Christmas Bird Count 2020


Friday, January 1, 2021  Cowlitz -Columbia Christmas Bird Count (3CBC) is the first of the New Year. We will be out for an 8 hour period covering a 15 mile diameter circle looking for any birds that will let us see them.

More details will come later.

To sign up, call Bob Reistroffer 360-751-5595 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This count will be different because of COVID-19. The guidelines are:

  1. NO in-person compilation gatherings.
  2. Social distancing and/or masking are required at all times in the field.
  3. Carpooling may only occur within existing familiar or social “pod” groups.
  4. Activities must comply with all current state and municipal COVID-19 guidelines.           


Wahkiakum CBC 2020

The Wahkiakum CBC is still on, December 29, 2020.

There are some national standards for the Christmas Bird Count this year due to Covid-19, which we will follow. Participants should not carpool with people other than their own family group or social pod.

There will be no gathering at the end of the day - participants should submit their data via email. As the Wahkiakum count is generally birding outdoors in a sparsely populated area, the chance of transmitting the virus will be low as long as participants mask up and wash hands for purchasing fuel or food, or are otherwise interacting with others.

Those who wish to participate may contact Andrew Emlen at 360-795-8009.

36th Cowlitz-Columbia CBC Results

By Bob Reistroffer

On Wednesday, January 1, 2020 the 36th Cowlitz-Columbia Christmas Bird Count (3CBC) was conducted. We had 18 field observers and 2 feeder watchers out for the day peering through rain and low clouds and finding 95 species of birds. The species count this year was in the normal range for this count.

The count circle was begun informally in 1982 with 57 species and 4,545 individual birds found. In 1984, after two informal years, we started our first official 3CBC.

This year (our 36th official count) we found 95 species and 11,732 individuals. We recorded some all time individual high counts; 32 Great Egret, 30 Wood Duck, 16 Thayer’s Gull, 27 Common Raven, plus 5 Eurasian Wigeon. There were some Low counts too, 24 Common Merganser, 15 House Finch. Also we had 5 count week birds Ross’s Goose, White-Throated Sparrow, Barred Owl, Ruffed Grouse, and Hermit Thrush

Thank you to all our field observers and feeder watchers.

Wahkiakum CBC Results

By Andrew Emlen

On December 30, 2019, 25 volunteers participated in the 22nd annual Wahkiakum CBC. Calm weather and 47 degree F temperatures allowed us to find over 51,000 individuals of 119 species, our second highest species tally and just one shy of our all-time high of 120 species.

The most abundant species in the circle this winter was Cackling Goose, with a tally of 20,967, breaking the previous high count of 16,099. Second was Greater Scaup with a tally of 4878, along with 3072 Greater/Lesser Scaup. Third was European Starling at 3663. A Northern Waterthrush at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge tide gate was not only new to the count but also a Wahkiakum County first. Many birders went to see it in the days following the count.

A Lesser Yellowlegs in Brownsmead and a trio of California Quail on Shingle Mill Road were also new to the count. Other unusual species included Barrow's Goldeneye, Clark's Grebe, and Common Yellowthroat. For the third winter running, three Turkey Vultures are wintering on Puget Island; this winter, all three were seen on count day.

The endangered "Streaked" Horned Larks appear to be thriving under the Army Corps of Engineers' management for them on Whites Island; 36 were seen in the circle on count day.

New high counts were set for Cackling Goose, Trumpeter Swan (20, previous high 9), American Kestrel (39, previous high 20), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (144, previous high 119), Red-winged Blackbird (873, previous high 801), and Brown-headed Cowbird (13, previous high 9).

Notable misses included Rock Pigeon and Great Horned Owl.

Upcoming Events

Aug 14;
WHAS Annual Picnic
Sep 10-11;
Puget Sound Bird Fest
Sep 23-25;
Wings over Willapa Festival
Oct 08;
Board Meeting