All You Need To Know About The Amazing Birds That Call Washington State Their Home

Washington State is home to many different species of birds. There are around 515 to be exact. 

This is unsurprising when you consider the many different areas and terrains that can be found here. There are clifftops, mountain ranges and a coastline.

There are also many parks and gardens that the smaller birds in particular like to visit. 

You can expect to find puffins, blackbirds, herons, sandpipers and hummingbirds


What are the Birds of Washington State?

With so many different species I’m not going to list them all, as it would take a very long time. However, here are a couple of species of birds that you can find in Washington State.

The Snowy Egret has the scientific name Egretta Thula. This small white heron can be found in Saddle Creek. They like to wade in shallow water and to spear fish with their bill. 

The Bobolink has the scientific name Dolichonyx Oryzivorus. This impressive songbird likes to forage for seeds in grassy pastures and overgrown fields.

The White-Crowned Sparrow is native to North America and has the scientific name Zonothrichia Ieucophrys. They’re a large species of sparrow but they have a small bill.

See Also: Missouri Birds: What birds are in Missouri?


More Birds Found in Washington State…

Tufted Puffin (left) and American Robin (right)

The Tufted Puffin can be spotted along the coastline and on Protection Island. They have the scientific name Fratercula Cirrhata.  

They’re a larger size than most other species of puffin. Their distinctive facial markings make it easy to tell them apart from other puffins, as they have a bold white face mask. 

The American Robin is a migratory songbird with a noticeable orange-red breast. Its scientific name is Turdus Migratorius.

They’re commonly found in gardens and parks across the majority of North America. They forage for food and enjoy berries, insects and juicy earthworms. 


Where Can These Birds be Found?

With meadows, mountain areas, a long-spreading coastline, and gardens and parks full of lush greenery, then it’s no surprise that Washington State is full of plenty of feathered-friends.

Due to the chillier winter months, many birds are migratory.

If you visit in the warmer months you’ll see even more birds about. 

Although there are many migratory birds that call Washington State their home for around half the year, there are also plenty of birds that brave the cold and stay here all year round. 


Some of the Birds of the Pacific Northwest

There are so many fascinating birds living in Washington State, including some of the rare and wonderful species that aren’t as well-known as other species of birds.

Below, I delve into the bird world and tell you more about some of the quirky and unique birds that you can find here.


Emperor Goose

This blue-gray bird is a member of the water-fowl species.

It also goes by the name “beach goose,” and has the scientific name Anser Canagicus.

Although their numbers are slowly increasing, climate change, oil pollution and hunting are believed to be behind their initial decline. 

Unlike the majority of birds, they don’t migrate to warmer climates. Instead, they leave Washington State in the summer and travel hundreds of miles to chilly Alaska…brrr!

These loyal birds mate for life. They build their nests in holes in the ground then use materials such as leaves and feathers to make them cosy. 


Snow Goose

You might think that given the name, this species of bird is as white as well…snow!

In fact, there are two color morphs of this species of goose.

One has white plumage, white the other has brown-gray plumage. Their color is down to a single gene.

Their scientific name is Anser Caerulescens. These sociable birds are usually found in large flocks.

These lovable birds mate for life…aw! Also, their chicks can eat and even swim on their own within one day of being born!


Greater White-Fronted Goose

This species of goose has the scientific name Anser Albifrons.

The adults can be easily spotted by the salt-and-pepper markings on their breast. 

They have white feathers bordering around their bill and bright orange legs. When migrating they fly in a “V” shape. 

They forage in groups and are commonly found in lakes and fields. The wetter the area the better, as they love waddling through marsh areas and swimming in lakes and ponds. 


Cackling Goose

This North American bird has the scientific name Branta Hutchinsii, they have a black neck and head with white “chinstrap” colorings. 

The female is slightly smaller in size and her voice sounds different to the males. 

When foraging for food they fully submerge their heads and necks in the water so that they can reach the aquatic plants. 


Trumpeter Swan

This is the heaviest species of bird in North America and has a wingspan that can exceed 10 feet.

They can be spotted by their solid black bills and large size. 

They have the scientific name Cygnus Buccinator, the male swan is called a “cob” and a female swan is called a “pen.”

In 1933 they nearly became extinct as their numbers dwindled to under 70. 

With reintroduction by wildlife agencies and the help of the Trumpeter Swan Society their number has increased to the thousands. 


Blue-Winged Teal

They’re a member of the Anatidae family, which includes, ducks, geese and swans.

They’re one of the smallest members of the dabbling duck group.

Their scientific name is Spatula Discors, and they prefer calm shorelines to open, choppy waters. 

Both the males and females of this species have beautiful blue wing coverts…snazzy!

They like to take cover in heavy growth, as they can escape prey there. They forage for food on mud flats or in shallow water and they feed on plants and small aquatic animals. 


Eurasian Wigeon

This member of the dabbling duck group is a medium-sized duck, and has the scientific name Mareca Penelope.

They like to inhabit lakes and marshes, and they nest on the ground, close to water and under cover. 

When it’s breeding season, the male has gray flanks and back, and a vivid-white patch on their upper wings.

When they’re not in breeding season, they have the same light brown plumage as the female does. 


Black Scoter

This large sea duck also goes by the name the American Scoter, and they have the scientific name Melanitta Americana.

They can be distinguished by their bulky shape and large bill.

The male of the species doesn’t have any white colorings on them. 

They’re expert divers and they feed off crustaceans, molluscs, fish eggs and caddisflies. 

They fly in tightly-packed flocks and take-off and land together. They build their nest on the ground, close to the ocean or lakes. 


Common Merganser

These large, long-bodied ducks have the scientific name Mergus Merganser.

Unlike the males, the females have a shaggy brown crest on the back of their heads (which resembles a funky hairstyle!)

The males have white bodies and iridescent green heads. 

In the winter months they like to ensemble in large flocks around lakes.

They nest close to water in tree cavities found in forest areas. 


Virginia Rail

Don’t be fooled by their pop star name, as the Virginia Rail is actually a species of small waterbird. 

They have the scientific name Rallus Limicola, and they like to hide in dense vegetation. 

However, they do have a loud grunting sound, so if you walk past a bush and hear weird sounds then it may well be one of these birds. 

Their compressed body, long toes and flexible vertebrae make them well-adapted for moving through tricky areas. 


Black-Bellied Plover

This bird is also known as the Grey Plover and has the scientific name Pluvialis squatarola

They forage for food on beaches and enjoy tasty molluscs, crustaceans and insects. 

They’re believed to flock when rain is imminent, so if you see a group of them together then it’s advisable to get your brolly. 

They can be found across many parts of the world and have an (almost) worldwide migratory coastline distribution. 

See Also: The Birds of Colorado That All Bird Enthusiasts Will Want to Know About


Behavior

Birds have adapted to thrive in their surroundings just as humans have. Humans living in the city have very different daily plans for those who live in more rural areas.

It stands to reason that city-dwelling birds have learned to be resourceful when it comes to finding food. 

These birds have learned how to adapt to their surroundings so that they flourish in the city that they call home. 


People’s Effect on their Behavior and Adaptations

Gulls that pass through the city can often be seen raiding trash cans, while gulls that live in more vast surroundings will catch fish. 

Many birds take advantage of the skyline buildings and incorporate them into their nests. 

The Peregrine Falcon used to primarily nest on top of cliffs. With so many high story buildings about, they can now be found nesting on top of them. 


Population

With over 500 birds calling Washington State their home it would be normal to presume that they all thrived here. 

However, 189 of these species are threatened by factors including climate change. The change in clean air, water and land have led to many birds becoming endangered.


Endangered Species

The Osprey has the scientific name Pandion Haliaetus, and it’s a fish eating raptor.

They have a striking appearance and their dense, oily feathers prevent them from getting waterlogged. 

Chemical pollutants caused issues to their production. Although, their numbers are on the rise, they’re still scarce in some areas. 

The Ruffed Goose has the scientific name Bonasa Umbellus, it’s a non-migratory bird that likes to habitat forest areas. 

See Also: State Bird Of California


FAQs – The Short Answers

Do you still have lots of questions about the birds of Washington State?

In that case you should read on, as I’m going to cover the most frequently asked questions. 


Question 1 – What is the State Bird of Washington State?

The state bird is the American Goldfinch. This colorful bird has been the official state bird since 1951.

The male has a bright yellow body, while the female is a less vibrant shade of olive-yellow.

In the winter months, the male’s plumage changes to similar plumage as the females. 

These chirpy little birds are energetic, sociable and can often be seen in gardens and parks feeding on seeds. 


Question 2 – Where are the Best Bird Spotting Areas?

There are many different bird-watching trails you can take. For a chance of seeing upto 225 different species of birds take to the Cascade Loop. 

This walk takes you along inland coastal areas and then through conifer forests. If you’re lucky you might spot the Trumpeter Swan and Lazuli Bunting. 

If you want to stroll through meadows, hillsides, and forests then the Sun and Sage Loop is for you. 

Look out for the Black-Crowned Night-Heron and the Lewis’s Woodpecker. 


Question 3 – Which Birds Visit Backyards?

Many birds in Washington State frequent gardens and backyards. It’s common to see hummingbirds, chickadees, warblers, wrens, nuthatches, sparrows, and starlings.

Plant some flowers and add a bird-feeder or two and sit back and let the birds come to you. 


Overview

A thrush

I hope that you now know everything that you need to about the birds of Washington State. 

From puffins, blackbirds, thrushes, herons, sea ducks, sparrows and swifts, this state has plenty of adorable and quirky birds to look out for.

Whether they like to hop around gardens or parks, or are more at home in the wild areas there is no doubting that they’re crucial to our ecosystem.

Birds are clever creatures that have learned to adapt to their surroundings.

With them about the world is certainly a far brighter and more interesting place to be.