WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

Please send information about wildlife sightings to our Wildlife Sightings Chair.

To see some recent Washington State bird sightings go to the Tweeters list. To subscribe to Washington State Tweeters or to get more info about Tweeters visit WA Tweeters.

Sandhill Crane (WDFW Image)


2020 Cowlitz County Bird List - March Update

Say's Phoebe
Say's Phoebe - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer

By Russ Koppendrayer

We only added 9 species to our year list in March. Two things would seem to account for this; first that we found many of the early arriving migrants on the last week of February leaving few for March, and second the coronavirus pandemic which has naturally caused much less birder action in the field.

Our mega vagrant from February, the Siberian Accentor, was last seen on March 26th giving it at least a fifty day stay. Whether it has left or just not seen because no one is making thorough efforts is unknown. A phenomenal visit in either case.

Two species that are less than annual put in brief appearances in Cowlitz County this month. A Say's Phoebe was seen in  the Woodland Bottoms and a Mountain Bluebird passed through Willow Grove. I know that migration will begin to pick up steam as spring advances, but above all stay safe and healthy.

If you do find new species at home of safe forays out please document to eBird, Tweeters or send me a personal note. 

Download the pdf here.

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.

Leadbetter Christmas Bird Count Results

By Robert Sudar

Strong coastal storm systems in the preceding days gave way to better weather on Saturday, December 21st, as 29 intrepid counters took part in the Leadbetter Point Christmas Bird Count.  The count circle is centered in Willapa Bay and includes about half of the Long Beach Peninsula along with a considerable portion of land on the east side of the bay.  The counters were distributed over seven portions of the circle, recording species and numbers from before daylight (when a Great Horned Owl was heard!) until dusk.  Overall, 97 species were seen (or heard) on count day and two more during “count week”. 

As has been the case every year there were some interesting results, both encouraging and disappointing.  On a positive note, there were record numbers of Pacific Loon (8), Pied-bill Grebe (27), Spotted Towhee (86), Brown Creeper (8), Double-crested Cormorant (128), Red-winged Blackbird (500), Brewer’s Blackbird (192), Bald Eagle (58), Pine Siskin (953), Ring-billed Gull (1425!), Eurasian-collared Dove (125) and Belted Kingfisher (28).  That’s a lot of new record highs!

On the other hand, there were no Scaups of either species at all, along with no Mourning Doves and only a single Coot.  There were also no Great Egrets or Bitterns, species which are not always seen but still a disappointment when we can’t include them.  I remember seeing my first Great Egret on the 1981 count, the first time I participated, in the Bay Center area.  I find it interesting that I now see them so frequently in the Longview area, but they appear to remain only an occasional visitor to the coast.

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



Upcoming Events

Dec 17;
Leadbetter CBC
Dec 29;
Wahkiakum CBC
Jan 01;
Cowlitz Columbia CBC