The sight and sound of thousands of snow geese rising into the sky is one you won’t soon forget. Our coldest months are a great time to go out and see birds that don’t pass through most of our backyards. Snowy owls, swans, snow geese and ptarmigan boast beautiful, bright plumage during Washington’s winters – a pleasing contrast to our often dark and gray skies.
Join in with your fellow birders for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen-science survey in the world. Join the count at the Conservancy’s Port Susan Bay Preserve, at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River, or other places around Washington in December and January.
The Christmas Bird Count runs from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 at more than 40 locations around Washington, and hundreds more around the world. The Skagit area Christmas Bird Count, which includes the Conservancy’s Port Susan Bay Preserve, is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1
Shorebirds by the tens of thousands wheel across the sky in the flat deltas where the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers pour into Puget Sound. What brings them here?
The short answer: dinner.
Shorebirds—with names like longbilled dowitcher and marbled godwit, and the more familiar dunlin and sandpiper—need to fuel up for epic migrations that take them from the Arctic north to the southern tip of South America.
The delta in winter also draws snow geese by the tens of thousands, and eagles that come to prey on them as well as on the salmon returning to the Skagit River. Anna Martin, who will lead the count at Port Susan Bay, says she’s also spotted trumpeter swans, northern pintails, northern shovelers, peregrine falcon and even an occasional snowy owl.
To sign up for the Skagit area Christmas Bird Count, contact Lee Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you specifically want to go to Port Susan Bay, contact Anna Martin at email@example.com. Or you can register online for any of Washington’s Christmas Bird Counts.