Discovering the Amazing Variety of Birds in the Pacific Northwest

Here’s our ultimate guide to the birds of the pacific northwest that you absolutely MUST KNOW about…

Meet the Birds of the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest region offers several bird species of incredible traits, and behavioral patterns.

These bird species are commonly known as the Pacific Northwest Birds, and they can be found in lowlands, hills, and harbors in the area.

Popular bird species in the Pacific Northwest region include

Snow Goose
  • Snow Goose
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Northern Pintail
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Gadwall, Black Scoter
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Wild Turkey
  • California Quail
  • Pacific Loon
  • Tundra Swan
  • Great Eaglet
  • Woodpeckers-Wrens

The birds in the Northwestern Pacific have varying behavioral patterns: some are very approachable, while some others will take flight at the sight of human presence.

Taxonomic Classification of Birds of the Pacific Northwest

The following is the classification of some of the Pacific Northwest Bird species according to their families:

  • Loons, which include the Red-throated Loon (Gavia Stella), Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica), and Common Loon (Gavia immer).

  • Grebes, which include, the Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), Western Grebe (Aechmorphorus occidentalis), and Pied-billed Grebe (Podilybus podiceps).

  • Pelicans, Cormorants, which include Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) and Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus).

  • Herons, Bitterns, which include Great Egret (Ardea alba), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), and White Stork (Ciconia ciconia).

  • Geese, Swans, which include Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus), and Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens).

  • Ducks, which include Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), and American Wigeon (Anas americana).

  • Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, which include Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii).

Some Birds of the Northwestern Pacific Region

Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)

The Northwestern Crow lives on the coast of the Northeast and Northwest Pacific, from Alaska to Washington.

This bird species is small-sized, with a low-pitched voice, and they feed on small crabs, fish, and eggs. 

The bird species nests in loose clusters or isolated pairs, with some pairs having an immature helper that assists in protecting and fending for their young ones.

The bird species are generally black, bearing a resemblance to the American Crow.

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

Tundra Swans are elegant bird species with characteristic whistling wings.

They are pure white, with a black bill that has a smear of yellow.

The bird species are easy to find on coastal waters during winter.

They move in flocks, except during breeding where they spread out.

Tundra Swan sleeps on water in winter but sleeps on land during its breeding period.

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is the largest species among the North American herons, with its typical long legs and thick bill.

When viewing them at a distance, they appear blue-gray.

They forage on water, feeding on fish and some other living organisms on water.

The bird species live in freshwater and saltwater habitats, from marshes, open coasts to lakes and ponds.

See Also: 9 Colorado Birds Every Bird Enthusiast Should Know About


A Varied Thrush (left) and Gulls (right)

The Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius), for instance, forages on the ground, using its bill to search for insects. It also feeds on fruits that fall to the ground from trees.

The bird species lay about 2 – 5 eggs, and both parents fend for the nestling. The male Thrush sings at dawn and dusk to defend its nest. 

Gulls are birds of the Pacific Northwest and are renowned for the amount of devotion they pay to parenting. They spend around half of the year taking care of their nestlings – from brooding of the eggs to the rearing of the young birds.

The passionate defense of their nests has drawn the attention of researchers.  Just like humans, they are capable of exhibiting a wide range of temperaments. 

Life in the Wild

There’s a mind-blowing variety of bird species in the Pacific Northwest.

Some species, like the Pelagic Cormorant, spend a large part of their lives on the water, while others, like the Vaux, spend most of their lives on trees.

However, one thing is common amongst these bird species: they all have nests.

The waterbirds of the Pacific Northwest ecoregion spend most of their time foraging on water but go back to their nests to roost.

Some bird species don’t build nests; instead, they use already-existing locations.

The Peregrine Falcons, for example, nest on cliff ledges after making a depression on them.


There has been a decline in the bird population of the Pacific Northwest. There are reports of plummeting populations of various bird species such as Ducks, Loons, Seagulls, and Scoters on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Western Grebes, for example, had a population reaching hundreds of thousands. However, they have plummeted to around 20,000.

The Herring species that make a home at Cherry Point has seen its population decline by over 90 percent. This decline cuts across most of the bird species in the ecoregion.

See Also: Our Guide To The Most Beautiful Birds Of New York (Must See)

Other Physical Characteristics 

The birds of the Pacific Northwest have size and weight variations, even amongst subspecies.

Generally, the male bird species are bigger than the females, weighing considerably more also.  

The beak size of the bird species also varies, and the specific geographical location of the bird species determines the shape and size of its beak, due to feeding adaptation.


Below, we discuss important aspects of the Pacific Northwest birds’ habitat characteristics:

Nesting Areas

The birds of the Pacific Northwest have diverse nesting areas. The Varied Thrush, for example, nests on the ground or in deciduous thickets.

The Tundra Swan spends most of its time on the water, but nests on land. Some bird species nests on hollow structures on tall trees.

Food patterns

Some bird species practice kleptoparasitism, such as the Bald Eagles, who frequently dive on Ospreys carrying fish in their bills.

The gulls are notorious pirates, affecting the availability of food resources to other birds in the region.

Just like the Great Blue Heron, many of the birds of the Pacific Northwest are water birds, feeding on fish and other aquatic prey.

Some species forage on the ground, looking for berries and insects to feed on.

Effects of Pollution and Plastic in their Habitat

A large number of bird species in the Northwestern Pacific are waterbirds, foraging on freshwater and saltwater habitats. Plastic pollution of these habitat leads to their toxicity, causing harm to the birds that feed on them.

See Also: Florida Water Birds: Water Birds To Watch Out For In Florida


Do various birds have various nesting sites?

Yes, the birds of the Pacific Northwest all have different nesting sites.

What are the food habits of Birds of the Pacific Northwest?

The feeding habits of the bird species in the Northwestern Pacific ecoregion also vary. While some forage on water or the ground, others practice kleptoparasitism.

What are the effects of Plastic pollution on waterbirds?

A large number of bird species in the Northwestern Pacific are waterbirds, foraging on freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Plastic pollution of these habitat leads to their toxicity, causing harm to the birds that feed on them.

Does their nesting pattern vary?

Yes, the nesting patterns of birds of the Pacific Northwest vary. Some bird species nest on the ground, some nest on low shrubs, and some on trees.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.