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Grays Harbor Birds — Violet-green Swallow

Way back in 1965, my toddler-aged daughter and I visited my parents in their Boston Harbor/Olympia home for a week. While hanging diapers on the clothesline I was the object of intense interest by a large flock of Violet-green Swallows. They swirled around me and perched on the clothesline examining me, cocking their heads and chattering away, talking up a storm…discussing me I am sure. Thus began a love affair with these small, beautifully colored birds that has lasted all these years. According to one quote, “…we will call them children of heaven.” (Dawson 1923) I hope you like this photo by Mike Hamilton as much as I do.

Grays Harbor Birds — Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax trailii)

I know what you are thinking; this has to be a common bird to our area because we have a LOT of willow, we have a lot of water, and we have a lot of bugs…perfect, right? Not so fast bug-breath! It turns out they are fairly UN-common to the coast but can be found inland a bit. Still, I have heard their distinctive “FITZ-bew” call in the woods at Grays Harbor College, as well as in the red alder forest out at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge; there is no other bird that sounds like that….well, unless a crow or a Steller’s Jay is now imitating them.

Grays Harbor Birds — Western Tanager

Western Tanagers are the only tanager regularly found in Washington and are common to our area throughout the summer. But if you see one you can consider yourself lucky; they are pretty hard to spot, despite the male’s brilliant plumage of yellow and black with a bright orange-red head.

Grays Harbor Birds — White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow is a true bird of the Pacific Northwest, residing here year-round, and considered one of the most common and abundant sparrows of Washington. Here in Grays Harbor, we most often see the subspecies pugetensis, foraging with other White-crowned Sparrows, but also mixing with Golden-crowned, Fox, and Song Sparrows.

Grays Harbor Birds — Bald Eagle

For those of you keeping track of the birds in this column, you’re probably saying, “Hey, didn’t you just do a piece on the Bald Eagle?” And you would be right … I did. But, I am doing so again to make a point. I get asked several times a year about Golden Eagles out on the beach, and while I have learned never to say never, we just don’t see Golden Eagles in Grays Harbor County.
 

Grays Harbor Birds — Long-eared Owl

From time-to-time, I stray from the path of Grays Harbor Birds to show something out of the ordinary, remarkable, or just plain interesting. This qualifies, but the possibility is we may yet see this bird in our neck of the woods. There are changes taking place in the traditional habitats, and there are exciting discoveries being made, drawing large crowds to observe the unusual. Gregg Thompson found and photographed two of these visitors to the west side of the Cascades. Now if we can just convince them to try our woods, I bet they would stay.

Fish & Wildlife Weekender for January

For Washingtonians, the start of the new year is prime time to hunt for ducks and geese, fish for hatchery-reared steelhead and enjoy the annual spectacle of bald eagles, snow geese, elk, big-horn sheep and other wintering wildlife.