Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail

In Washington, flocks of colorful birds rule the sky, luring birders to catch them in flight.

The Northwest's diverse landscapes play both pit stop and destination to a myriad of avian species. Novice and expert birders can play “I Spy” all along Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail, shown on a series of maps available through Audubon Washington. There are some 300 stops in all; here’s what to expect along the way.

THE SOUTHWEST LOOP

Expect diversity of both birds and landscapes: pelicans over open water, herons in wetlands, and falcons gliding over mountains. Along the sandy coastline, watch for dunlin and sanderling shorebirds.

THE COULEE CORRIDOR SCENIC BYWAY

The shrubsteppe and semi-arid desert in east-central Washington is a refuge for avian sunseekers. Keep watch over Eastern Washington’s talus slopes to see rock wrens, prairie falcons, and golden eagles soaking up the rays.

THE PALOUSE TO PINES LOOP

More than 350 bird species have been recorded in Washington—and 215 of them reside along this trail. Most notably, the mighty rivers, ponderosa pine forests, and lake-graced deserts of Eastern Washington draw tundra swans by the thousands.

THE SUN AND SAGE LOOP

Ogle great horned owls and red-tailed hawks swooping above wildflower-dappled meadows and deep canyons. In the heart of Washington’s wine country, the Whitman Mission National Historic Site just outside Walla Walla offers 98 acres of all-season beauty and birding.

CASCADE LOOP BIRDING TRAIL

This North Washington loop welcomes seabirds, bald eagles, snow geese, and trumpeter swans to the Skagit Valley, inland coastal waters, and the Cascade Mountain Range. Choose your backdrop: tranquil bays; the jagged, rocky peaks of the Cascades; or sagebrush-and-grassland plateaus.

THE OLYMPIC LOOP

Circles through hushed rain forest and raucous Pacific coastline. Marbled murrelets hide in the Olympic National Forest’s old-growth Douglas firs, and wandering tattlers search for an evening’s dinner along surf-thrashed shores.

About the Author

Lora Shinn