West Seattle, Washington
Reported by Sara: “I chased off a couple coyotes from 41st and Portland around 9:00 this evening. Both were skittish, thankfully! Another good reason to keep kitties inside.” Not sure what to do if you see one? Wondering what you can do to keep them at a distance? Read this. (See past sighting reports by scrolling through this WSB archive.)
We start this bird gallery with a sighting northeast of The Junction. We heard about those birds from two people this week, including Ian, who sent the photos.
Other recent photos (thanks for everyone who continues sending bird pics) start with two charming Steller’s Jay views by Jerry Simmons:
Two more backyard birds – a Northern Flicker, photographed by Samantha Wren:
And a Red-breasted Nuthatch, from Jon Anderson:
And two waterfowl – a Western Sandpiper, photographed by James Tilley:
And Gene Pavola‘s photo of a Great Blue Heron:
Thanks again to everyone who shares photos, from birds to breaking news – if not urgent, email is the best way, email@example.com, but otherwise, you can also text us 24/7 at 206-293-6302.
That’s the first live seal pup of the season reported to Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network – a season that normally begins in June. The report and photo are from Seal Sitters’ David Hutchinson:
Just a reminder to your readers that we are still in harbor seal pupping season, which in our part of Puget Sound typically runs from June – September. The 2023 season has gotten off to an unusually slow start on our West Seattle beaches. Yesterday, Seal Sitters had our first response to a live pup on a local beach. Volunteers watched over this vulnerable young seal from mid-afternoon until dark. These animals are protected by federal law and if you come across one onshore, we ask that you keep back, keep people and pets away, and call the Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325. Operators are on duty 7 days a week from 8 AM – 8 PM. If you call outside of those hours, please leave a message including the type of animal and its location.
Resting on a beach is normal behavior for harbor seals but the young pups haven’t learned to be discriminating about where they do this. You may encounter them on any of West Seattle’s public or private beaches. It’s particularly important that dogs are not allowed to run off leash on our beaches. While harbor seals are quick and graceful in the water, they are pretty slow while moving on land and would have trouble escaping from a curious dog. Even a small injury can quickly become infected and could be fatal for pups with developing immune systems.
Please note that the accompanying photo was taken with a telephoto lens from behind the tape perimeter. These photos are taken to provide a closer look at the animal to see if there are any external wounds or other signs of poor health and for ID purposes.
Thank you for sharing the shore with our marine wildlife neighbors!
Two of the latest reader-reported coyote sightings were pairs:
FAUNTLEROY: A texter reported tonight, “Coyote spotting…10:30 p.m. Two full-sized on Tillicum Rd across the street from Lincoln Park near Cloverdale.”
GENESEE HILL: Tim reported that on Tuesday night, “I believe I saw two coyotes crossing 55th Ave SW near Andover St about 9:30 PM … It appeared the coyotes were coming up the power line right of way that goes down the bank. That same night, in that same area, Rob saw this one, and sent us the photo via Twitter/X:
If you haven’t read up on coexisting with coyotes yet – especially how to avoid unintentionally feeding them – here’s the state Fish and Wildlife Department‘s advice.
First, one that came in late tonight, with photo, via text (206-293-6302 is our hotline):
Just wanted to share that a rather large coyote was spotted on 47th and Dakota around 9:30 pm.
This morning, Tom emailed about his sighting late Friday night: “I just wanted to report that last night I saw a coyote trotting down Jacobsen Road about 11:30. I’m not surprised given all the rabbits that have taken up residence around here.”
They do eat wildlife, but they also eat food that humans have provided, however inadvertently, as this study noted. So you can do your part to keep them at a distance by reducing those potential food sources.
Thanks again for sending your coyote-sighting reports. Got another one this morning, from Steph, who emailed to say, “saw a Coyote this morning on Atlas Pl SW around 6:45 a.m.” That street on the slope between Beach Drive and Seaview is in a greenbelt area, but they can roam far from greenbelts too. Wherever you are, here’s info about coexistence – including encouraging them to keep their distance by not providing food (from pet food to unaccompanied pets), They otherwise will find food such as rodents, small wildlife, and fruit.
The photo is from Abigail G., who spotted two coyotes – including that one – around 1:30 am today. She first saw them at 34th and 102nd and “followed them for a block before I could get a good photo. They were both in the middle of the road when I turned the corner and one took off down 102nd and the other one went into a yard.” This continues the recent resurgence in sightings (you can scroll through our archives here). So it’s a good time to learn about coexistence – including encouraging them to keep their distance by not providing food (from pet food to unaccompanied pets) – they can live just find by foraging for everything from fruit to rodents.
Continuing to chronicle the resurgence of coyotes in our area, we received this report from Yma in Gatewood: “Big, healthy-looking coyote trotting up the sidewalk tonight – about 10:20. Gatewood: Portland St between California & 41st.” Remember that you can best support a keep-our/their-distance coexistence by not providing food – from pet food to unaccompanied pets.
West Seattle wildlife biologist Kersti Muul wonders if anyone else is seeing or hearing the birds whose calls she heard earlier today:
Much to my surprise this morning, I had what’s called overlapping/and multiple ‘keer’ calls of marbled murrelets at 0750. A friend heard them also at 0830 and says she’s been hearing them for about a week.
They were flying ENE from 5627 Beach Drive -ish and directly over the house, low.
This is of interest for many reasons, and I’d like to know if anyone is seeing or hearing them, especially on that inland trajectory. Catching them in flight is next to impossible. If anyone can record them, that would be even better!
They are endangered, and on an exponential decline in Washington. They do hang out off West point sometimes, but nest sparsely on the peninsula. They only nest in old growth.
Here are some sounds. Call number two is what we were hearing this morning.
The marbled murrelet is of particular interest to Kersti, as she spent the summer surveying them on Tiger Mountain after receiving a certification in April.
That’s video sent by Kevin showing what he believed was the same coyote in Seaview noted by Steph in our previou report on readers’ sightings; he saw it last Saturday morning on 48th SW between SW Juneau and SW Raymond. We have two more, as coyotes’ apparent resurgence in our area continues: Leslie emailed today to report, “I spotted a coyote this morning around 6:00 am entering the woods that line the Riverview Playfield, just north of the tennis court.” And Gregg reported that last Saturday night, “At 11:10 pm while walking my dog, I spotted two coyotes running on 55th Ave SW and SW Dakota Street. They took a right on SW Dakota street from 55th Ave SW then a left on 56th Ave SW and continued south on Hillcrest Ave SW. I am guessing they were making their way toward Me-Kwa-Mooks Park and probably looking for rabbits.” Gregg added, “It’s been a few years since I have seen a coyote in the Genesee Hill area.” Since many people have moved here since the days of frequent sightings, we’re reminding you about advice on how to co-exist – especially avoiding providing food sources (from pet food to unaccompanied small pets) – from rabbits to rats, the coyotes can find plenty on their own.
Thanks to everyone who’s continued sending views of our feathered neighbors this summer. We’ve featured some with our daily preview lists, but as the weekend wraps up, we have a moment to share a gallery – starting, above, with Jerry Simmons‘ catch, a gull apparently getting warned off by a crab. The star in another gull’s bill wasn’t so lucky, Theresa Arbow-O’Connor shows us:
Other birds just grab their prey from the water and take off, like this Osprey photographed by James Tilley:
James also caught the brilliant color of a Purple Martin:
Another brightly colored bird – this Anna’s Hummingbird photographed by Jon Anderson:
From Jamie Kinney, a Barred Owl:
And a Great Blue Heron:
A closer view of another heron – via long lens – from David Hutchinson:
And another photo from Jerry Simmons – a young Northern Flicker getting fed:
Thanks again to the photographers. And be mindful of our winged neighbors as summer continues – it doesn’t take a desert-style heat wave for bird baths to dry out quickly!
10:22 AM: We’ve had a resurgence of coyote sightings lately, and we’re publishing the reports because it’s important to understand how to co-exist with them. This morning, Steph and her dogs encountered one in Seaview: “Cayote sighting this morning at 7 a.m. at corner Juneau and 49th. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. Not sure if it is newsworthy, but sure took me by surprise as I was walking my dogs.” And on the High Point side of SW Juneau, Zac reported this sighting Tuesday night: “Didn’t get a pic but saw a coyote trot down SW Juneau St from 35th toward the P-patch … 11:30-ish pm.” The state’s “co-existing with coyotes” advice is here. Biggest advice is to not inadvertently leave food out for them (and that includes unaccompanied small pets) – they can find plenty on their own, such as rodents.
NOON: Since publishing that, we received this from Kari:
This coyote ran right behind us on 50th and Spokane Thursday night, just after nine. I did let my neighbors know to spread the word.
ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: We also received this today:
My name is Matt and I live near the Whole Foods in the Junction. This morning I saw a coyote on 40 Ave SW at 4:30 am; it went toward Hudson and turned heading to Fauntleroy.
Some WSB readers have asked about the status of the Caspian Terns – those prehistoric-sounding, angle-winged seabirds heard passing overhead in the past, when they nested on a roof along the Duwamish River – where a heat wave had catastrophic effects in 2021. Then they lost that nesting site entirely. West Seattle-based wildlife biologist Kersti Muul has continued to research and monitor them. Attention is now on a colony in north Puget Sound that is being ravaged by yet another problem. Kersti tells us:
It brings me great sadness to report that a fragment colony (more than 1,000) of nesting Caspian terns on Rat Island (Port Townsend) is being decimated by avian influenza (HPAI) and hundreds have died already. WDFW has collected over 800 adult carcasses so far and and over 150 chicks.
The nesting colony I’ve been researching since 2018 didn’t really materialize here this year; about 100 or so showed up in April and I spent the following months trying to locate them.
Their historical nest site was demolished in January and the Coast Guard had USDA put deterrents up where they attempted to nest last year. They weren’t in any other alternate sites. I went out with the Port of Seattle last month and went up river to investigate derelict barges also, but no nesting.
I had wondered if the colony got hit with HPAI in migration areas and just didn’t come back in the big numbers (colony was 4000+).
There are some nesting currently on Rat Island and somehow bird flu popped up with a vengeance. The area is closed and being closely monitored by WDFW. So far we have not had any positive pinniped cases, but has happened elsewhere in the world at these kinds of preserves where they share close spaces with nesting seabirds. It may be a matter of time. Three deceased seal pups were tested, but they continue to be negative, and no eagles yet either. They will be doing another body collection and count early next week. There are some oystercatchers nesting there as well and still have not been infected. That may change when WDFW assesses nest week.
This is the 3rd year in a row that has been catastrophic for the terns. As you remember, 2021 heat killed a lot of babies (over 200). 2022 total nesting failure, as they were flushed from nesting site and nested late. I hypothesize that embryonic development was corrupted by heat. 2023 local HPAI outbreak, and colony is being wiped out during nesting…. This colony fragment had become the largest and most important in the region. Last September I collected fish bones from the Coast Guard roof for diet analysis by NOAA Fisheries.
I spoke with Steve Hampton yesterday, Kitsap Audubon Conservation Chair, and now a docent at Fort Flagler, for the specific situation. He says adults are still coming in with food, which means there are still chicks to feed. They are nesting in a swale but it is impossible to see them from there.
It is likely that some of this colony is part of the colony that nested at T-106, and the Coast Guard roof respectively. The colony this year there is the biggest it has ever been. But we are still missing 3000+/- birds.
Rat Island also had an almost complete nesting failure last year as the colony was completely flushed on the 4th of July at low tide by human harassment, and then again in August when they attempted to nest again, via coyote predation on chicks. There were around 500 adults nesting and only 10 chicks were successful unfortunately after the second, very late attempt.
Rat Island remains closed and WDFW requests people refrain from going to the area. As you know, HPAI is highly infectious and can be moved to new areas on shoes and clothing, and dogs can be infected by inhaling viral particles of infected birds or carcasses.
Thanks to Mark for the photo of a state Department of Fish and Wildlife officer in action. He wrote, “Nice to see the checking for fishing licenses and catches at Lincoln Park!” You might have seen them elsewhere in West Seattle – at Don Armeni Boat Ramp on busy fishing days, for example. Here’s how WDFW explains its enforcement activities.
Thanks to Kevin Freitas for sending the video and photo. He reports, “Yesterday morning while on a run, my partner recorded this brief video showing the area coyote out and about. This was shot at 36th/Graham about 7 am. Control that bunny population, friend!”
This is the fourth coyote report we’ve received in a month, after a year without any (which of course doesn’t mean they haven’t been around). As we always note, we don’t publish these as a warning, but rather an educational FYI. As Kevin’s comment suggests, they eat a lot of small wildlife, but small domestic animals left alone are susceptible too, so take that into consideration. Advice on how to coexist with coyotes by keeping them at a distance is part of this state-produced Living With Wildlife guide.
Two reader-provided videos of West Seattle wildlife to share this afternoon. First, Manuel and daughter were out along Longfellow Creek when they got this view of three of its beavers:
Two years ago we wrote about a city plan to keep beaver dams from blocking creek flow; checking back on the city website, it looks like a related project remains in the planning phase.
On to the shores of Puget Sound – Stewart L. shared this video of a river otter, dining:
If you’re new around here – yes, river otters are the ones you’ll commonly see in the saltwater around here, not sea otters.
Continuing our resurgence in coyote sightings – a texter reported just after 10 pm, ‘Just spotted a cute coyote on Belvidere Ave SW and SW Lander Street. Had my dogs with me so was a bit nervous, but he ran off in the other direction.” Earlier this week, we received a report we didn’t publish at the time – Ted reported, early Tuesday morning, “I just heard a coyote barking pretty close to my house near 37th/97th in Arbor Heights.” That was five days after this Upper Fauntleroy sighting, with photos. A reminder – this isn’t cause for panic, just an FYI; this state-produced Living With Wildlife guide has lots of info on co-existing with them.
In the comment section for this morning’s traffic watch, Ellen posted an alert about an “injured peregrine falcon” on the low-bridge path. A short time ago, we received this report and photo, sent by Tracy, explaining how the situation turned out:
This morning at 5:30 am on the Spokane Street Bridge bike path, a small group of morning bike commuters assisted in helping a fledgling peregrine falcon that had flown down from the nesting sites on the higher West Seattle Bridge.
We were able to place the young bird into a box with the help from volunteer Jenn from the Urban Raptor Conservancy. Patti from URC said, “She is now at PAWS to eat quail and grow her wings. We hope to release her to her parents in a few days.”
Thanks to everyone who stopped to help this morning.
Thanks to Rosalie Miller for sharing four wildlife views from today’s low-low tide. Above, a Blood Star. Below, a Graceful Decorator Crab:
Next, a Lined Chiton:
And a Stiff-footed Sea Cucumber:
Rosalie says she saw them all on Alki today. Tomorrow (Thursday) you have one more chance at a low-low tide, out to -3.0 feet at about quarter till 2 pm; Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out again too.
As noted here two days ago, another stretch of low-low tides has begun. Misti was out during today’s low-low tide and shares the amazing video you can see above – describing it as “My mic drop achievement, catching a nudibranch fight on a video. Think mama was protecting her eggs, which are the cluster of white spots you see.” Misti saw these near the Fauntleroy ferry dock, and shared other low-tide wildlife images on Twitter, which has had some turmoil today, so apologies if you can’t see it – here’s another eye-catching image, identified by Misti as a sea pen:
Tomorrow’s low-low tide is -3.2 feet at 10:38 am; Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists will be out too (see when and where here).
Want to turn bird-watching into science? Here’s an opportunity we were asked to share with you:
The Puget Sound Seabird Survey is looking for birders in West Seattle and throughout Puget Sound to join this established Community Science program.
Volunteers are asked to conduct 7 surveys with a small team of fellow surveyors at specific locations. All surveys are synchronized to take place once per month on the first Saturday, October – April. You will be provided training in the survey technique, and ideally will have good seabird identification skills. However, there are roles on the survey teams for birders of all levels. Now in its 15th season, you’ll be contributing to valuable science that monitors
wintering seabirds across Puget Sound and informs important management decisions.
Previously, the project was part of Birds Connect Seattle’s (formerly Seattle Audubon) science program but transitioned to its new home at Puget Sound Bird Observatory in 2022. More information can be found on our website and if interested in taking part, please reach out to Program Manager Toby Ross
If you’re staying home for the extended holiday weekend, you might factor beach walks into your staycation. The next round of low-low tides is almost here. Saturday through Thursday will be prime dates for beach exploration. On Saturday, the tide will be out to -2.4 feet at 9:54 am; on Sunday, -3.2 feet at 10:38 am; on Monday, -3.8 feet at 11:24 am; on Tuesday (the Fourth of July), -4.0 feet at 12:11 pm (this summer’s lowest low tide); on Wednesday, -3.8 feet at 12:59 pm; and next Thursday (July 6th), -3.0 feet at 1:48 pm. Here’s the full chart. If you want expert guidance, Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation Park (63rd/Beach Drive) and Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) Sunday through Thursday – see the schedule here.
Thanks for the photos! For the first time in a long time, we’ve received reports of a West Seattle coyote sighting. Very early this morning, in Upper Fauntleroy, along 37th SW – the photo above is from William, and the one below is from Adam.
As we routinely reminded readers back when we received and published many such sightings (you can scroll through the archives here), this is not something to be alarmed about. Yes, coyotes eat smaller animals, sometimes even roaming cats, but more often, their diets have been found to include what you might consider nuisances/pests – like rodents. William, in fact, reported seeing the coyote after it “had just finished his unsuccessful pursuit of a squirrel.” Advice on how to coexist by keeping them at a distance is part of this state-produced Living With Wildlife guide.