By Penny Fox
From its coastal landscapes to its forests and mountains, Washington State is teeming with over 500 varieties of bird. From Olympia to Walla Walla, heading out onto the Great Washington State Birding Trail will provide an experience unlike any other. Along the way, you just might catch sight of elegant swans, majestic bald eagles, or lively shorebirds. Here are the five best birdwatching hikes in the state.
Hikers along the Cascade Loop near Yakima, Washington, will be treated to the possibility of seeing more than half of the species of birds reported there each year. The birds that frequent the austere shorelines and darkened wooded trails of the Cascade Mountains are known for enduring the harsher, colder climate. Bald eagles, snow geese, swans, and other seabirds call this home and can be seen throughout the winter months.
The Southwest Loop near Olympia, Washington, takes you through numerous waterways like deltas and wetlands and all the way to sandy shorelines and dunes with rock overhangs. Birds appear out of the wooded forests to find food, and then make their way to the secluded and safe bays and inlets of Puget Sound. Many of the species that live here were here during the Lewis and Clark expedition up the Columbia River.
More than one-third of the recorded birds found along the Olympic Loop at the southern end of Puget Sound in Washington may be found following the waterways and mossy forests of Olympic National Park. The park has four wildlife refuges, numerous parks, and shares the history of six Native American tribes local to the area. Each season brings out different birds, western sandpipers along the beaches in the spring, bald eagles with their nests high in ancient fir trees in the summer, cedar waxwings in the fall foraging for succulent berries, and the winter waterfowl wading in fresh and saltwater.
Hikers along the Coulee Corridor may be surprised to see more than 200 of the annually recorded birds including bald eagles, herons, and egrets. Reminiscent of earlier times when Native American tribes lived in the area, the rugged landscape still offers sanctuary to the wildlife that call this spot home.
There are 346 yearly recorded sightings of birds along the Great Washington State Birding Trail and more than 200 can be found on the Sun and Sage Loop near Walla Walla, Washington. The magnificent hillsides, meadows, and valleys carved out by glaciers, floods, and man offer much to birds like warblers and woodpeckers, hawks and shore birds like kingfishers. This is the heart of the state’s wine country, and birding is especially good in the vineyards.