Count birds this month and save dates for coming events

“Crossing Paths News Notes”  from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Backyard birdwatchers can help researchers create a real-time snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter by participating in the 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) Feb. 18-21.

The GBBC is always conducted in February to see where birds are just before spring migrations begin in March. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each of the four days. It doesn’t matter whether you report five species coming to your backyard feeder or 75 species you see during a day’s outing to a wildlife refuge. Tally the highest number of each species seen together at any one time, then report them through an Internet online checklist.

As the count progresses, you can explore what’s being reported from your own town or anywhere in the United States and Canada. You can also see how this year’s numbers compare with those from previous years.

The GBBC is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Many other on-the-ground, local wildlife events are coming up this spring that are worth marking on your calendar now.

February 26 – 27 is the 6th annual Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival, sponsored by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, Stanwood Chamber of Commerce, Island County, Camano Island Chamber of Commerce and many others. For details on all events, including talks by Vasiliy Baranyuk from Wrangel Island Nature Reserve and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Waterfowl Manager Don Kraege.

March (dates to be determined) is when volunteers are needed for the 13th annual Oregon spotted frog egg mass surveys at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Glenwood Valley of Klickitat County, just southeast of Mount Adams, about 1.5 hours east-northeast of Portland. WDFW coordinates this volunteer monitoring effort to learn more about this amphibian species at greatest risk of extirpation in the Pacific Northwest. For more information, contact .

March 19 is the 9th annual “Wings Over Water” Northwest Birding Festival in Mount Vernon, sponsored by the Washington Brant Foundation, dedicated to conservation of and education about brant and other marine bird species in the Pacific Flyway.

March 19 is also the Tundra Swan Festival at Calispell Lake in northeast Washington’s Pend Oreille County, sponsored by the Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance with pre-and post-swan-viewing talks at the Camas Center for Community Wellness at Usk.

March 25-27 is the 14th annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival in Othello, sponsored by the Greater Othello Chamber of Commerce and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), and supported by the City of Othello, Othello School District and Othello Community Schools. Details will soon be available for scheduled wildlife tours and events, including a traditional Saturday night banquet with keynote speaker.

April 29 – May 1 is the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival Grays, sponsored by Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and the City of Hoquiam.
This annual event celebrates the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor estuary on their migration northward, some coming from as far south as Argentina and heading for the Arctic for a round trip of over 15,000 miles!

May 14 is International Migratory Bird Day and there are several events around the state on or around the date:

  • 11th annual Tukwila Backyard Wildlife Festival, sponsored by City of Tukwila, National Wildlife Federation, Puget Sound Energy, REI, King Conservation District, and Ed Hume Seeds.
  • 9th annual Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest, May 12-15, sponsored by many local organizations and businesses.
  • Several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges in Washington, like Nisqually near Olympia and Turnbull near Spokane, conduct International Migratory Bird Day events.
  • May 20-21 is a Point Defiance Park “BioBlitz” in Tacoma, sponsored by the Pierce County Biodiversity Alliance, Tacoma Metro Parks and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. A “BioBlitz” is an intensive 24-hour biological survey using volunteer citizen scientists to list all living things (birds, mammals, fish, insects, plants, etc.) in a given area to create a management data base. Contact Craig Standridge for more information at