Spring Washington: May 30—Jun 07, 2006

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Departs: Seattle
Tour Limit: 14
Download Itinerary: PDF (170.4 KB)

Tour Leaders

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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of...


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Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak — Photo: Brennan Mulrooney

Traverse the remarkable diversity of habitats and landforms of the lovely Pacific Northwest at the peak of the nesting season, with many species in full song and in full breeding plumage.

Our Spring Washington tour will explore the scenic Pacific Northwest at the peak of the nesting season, when most bird species are in full song and in their finest breeding plumage. In an action-packed nine days, this tour will cover many of the best birding areas in the state during this season. In contrast with VENT's other Washington tours, which feature primarily the western portion of the state, our Spring Washington tour emphasizes the interior of the state east of the Cascade Mountains.

This tour will focus on many of the most sought-after northwestern and western U.S. specialty bird species. An amazing 11 species of woodpeckers are likely including American Three-toed, White-headed, Black-backed, and Lewis's woodpeckers, plus Williamson's, Red-naped, and Red-breasted sapsuckers. Gallinaceous birds figure importantly too, with a good chance for Spruce, Blue, and Ruffed grouse, as well as Chukar and Gray Partridge. We will make a special effort to see such western owls as Flammulated and Northern-Pygmy, and the scarce and endangered "Northern" Spotted Owl is possible. We'll track down the best warblers the Northwest has to offer including MacGillivray's, Townsend's, Black-throated Gray, Nashville, Wilson's, and others. In searching out the region's specialty birds we will have a chance to hear a wide range of wonderful songs, from the haunting, high mountain notes of Varied and Hermit thrushes, and the complex serenades of Townsend's Solitaires, Winter Wrens, and Brewer's Sparrows, to the unmistakable phrasings of Black-headed Grosbeaks and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Among the many other birds likely or possible are nesting Common Loons; Western and Clark's grebes; Cinnamon Teal; Virginia Rail; Wilson's Phalarope; Glaucous-winged Gull; Black and Caspian terns; Bald and Golden eagles; Prairie Falcon; Short-eared Owl and possibly other owls; Calliope, Rufous, and Black-chinned hummingbirds; White-throated, Vaux's, and Black swifts; Pacific-slope, Hammond's, Dusky, Gray, and Willow flycatchers; Say's Phoebe and Western Kingbird; Gray Jay, Steller's Jay, and Western Scrub-Jay; Cassin's and Warbling vireos; seven swallows including Violet-green Swallow; Boreal, Mountain, and Chestnut-backed chickadees; Bushtit; Pygmy, Red-breasted, and White-breasted nuthatch; Rock, Canyon, and Bewick's wrens; American Dipper; Western and Mountain bluebirds; Sage Thrasher; Spotted Towhee; Sage, Lark, Brewer's, "Slate-colored" Fox, and Lincoln's sparrows; Bullock's Oriole; Cassin's and Purple finches; Evening and Pine grosbeaks, and Red Crossbill. We have also encountered a considerable variety of mammals such as elk, bighorn sheep, black bear, and snowshoe hare.

Good to very good accommodations; mostly non-strenuous and occasional moderate trail walking; warm to cooler weather conditions.