Birds of Winter

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Plants & Animals

With the cold weather upon us and all the south-bound birds already gone, I still start my mornings watching the activity around the backyard birdfeeders.  But there are far more birds that stay in the Northwest this time of year than I’d see picking through the seeds in the snow.  To get a broader perspective, I invited Diane Yorgason-Quinn of the Tahoma Audubon Society to share a list of her favorite winter birds.  Diane is a Master Birder who has led field trips for TAS and has experience birding on both sides of the Cascades.

I happen to live in the Puget Sound area, and I just can’t wait for winter!!  The birds are coming, the birds are coming!!  That’s all I can think about. Puget Sound is a major wintering area for waterfowl both from northern areas and from higher-altitude areas.  The waters just fill up with wall-to-wall birds!  Although it’s always nice to see breeding birds in spring and summer, for numbers and sheer spectacle winter is the winner!

And in eastern Washington?  Wow – Raptors!!  As snow covers the tundra, the critters move south including those who feed on them.  Plus rare and colorful winter Finches!

DIANE YORGASON-QUINN’S FAVORITE WINTER BIRDS IN WASHINGTON


Waterfowl

Long-Tailed Duck, Harlequin Duck, Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Surf Scoter, Greater Scaup, Snow Geese, Trumpeter and Tundra Swans. Horned Grebes, Red-Necked Grebes, huge rafts of Western Grebes! The charming Brant Goose. American and Eurasian Wigeon! Common Goldeneyes and Barrow’s Goldeneyes!! Buffleheads galore! Red-Breasted Merganser. Common, Pacific, and Red-Throated Loons! All 3 species of Cormorants!!  All of the waterfowl listed here are western Washington birds.


Raptors

Way more than our fair share of Bald Eagles! Plus Rough-Legged Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, and in lucky years Gyrfalcons! Short-Eared Owls. Snowy Owls in those years when the northern lemming population runs off a cliff.  All of the raptors listed here are western Washington birds, though most of them can also be seen in eastern Washington in the winter.


Shorebirds
Marbled Godwits, Willets, Black-Bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, Sanderlings, Black Turnstones! Long-Billed Dowitcher! Greater Yellowlegs! Heermann’s Gull, Western Gull, Mew Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, California Gull, Glaucous-Winged Gull, Caspian Tern.  The shorebirds listed are in western Washington.


Passerines (perching birds)
Dark-Eyed Junco, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Pacific Wren, Townsend’s Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Northern Shrike, Horned Larks in the snow, Common Redpoll, Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Snow Bunting, Pine Siskin.  The Snow Buntings, Redpolls, Rosy Finches, and Pine Grosbeaks are eastern Washington winter birds; the others are mostly on both sides of the state.


SOURCE: Thanks to Diane Yorgason-Quinn of the Tahoma Audubon Society for compiling this list of her favorite winter birds of Washington!

BIRD PHOTOS © Steve Campion

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4 Responses to “Birds of Winter”

  1. Jessie Bishop Lewis Says:

    This is a very comprehensive list of the Birds of Winter by Diane Yorgason-Quinn. She is, indeed, a master birder, and I follow her input to the Towhee. Her photos are alsio expert in depicting not only the winter birds, but birds the year-round.

    I would enjoy reading more by her.

  2. Kari Says:

    Gorgeous photos (as usual)! You capture marvelous moments on film, Steve. The Junco & Eagle images above would make lovely greeting cards. 8-)

  3. Linda Says:

    Wonderful article helps me dread the coming winter less. And I agree with Kari that your pictures would make great greeting cards. I would choose the junco and the pair of seagulls.

  4. Jessie Bishop Lewis Says:

    Sending Diane’s Article on WA-List