from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
Many birders travel far to see their feathered friends. In fact, itâ€™s not uncommon for hardcore birdwatchers to venture to exotic locales just to find them. But local fans of the winged species will be happy to know that thereâ€™s some great birdwatching (and listening) close to home.
West Seattleâ€™s plethora of parks creates an ideal habitat for many species. From Fauntleroy Park on Barton to Schmitz and Lincoln, if you take the time to look and listen, youâ€™re
sure to discover many a bird and a new song or two.
What are you are likely to see? The small, brown Bewickâ€™s wren for one, as well as little green Annaâ€™s hummingbirds and golden-crowned kinglets. â€œSmall birds with a whitish chest, olive back, and gold markings on the head, golden-crowned kinglets look like theyâ€™re wearing little crowns,â€ says Linda Gresky, a volunteer for the Seattle Audubon Society and
Fauntleroy Watershed Council.
But thereâ€™s more than just these three. Head toward the water to witness ducks and an array of birds of prey. Itâ€™s not uncommon to see buffleheads (ducks with white markings resembling small, white hats), harlequin ducks (with spectacular markings and white slashes across the head and shoulders), and the infamous surf scoter with a bill so brilliant orange youâ€™d think you were spotting him in the tropics. (Or cormorants, as seen in this WSB-published photo:)
Bald eagles and osprey also fit the bill. â€œBecause they are such great fishers, the osprey is also known as the sea hawk,â€ explains Gresky. â€œIn fact, I once saw an eagle trying to pirate a fish from an osprey at Lincoln Park.â€
Entertainment for all seasons, birding is enjoyable for people of every age. â€œBirdwatching is almost like a scavenger hunt to kids,â€ explains Gresky. â€œItâ€™s a great way to let them explore, check their findings against the field guide, and feel like theyâ€™ve found something special.â€
For beginning birders, Gresky has helpful advice. â€œThe birds may be difficult to identify at first, but if you have patience and stick to it, youâ€™ll get it,â€ she smiles. â€œAnd when you do, itâ€™s exciting.â€
Likening birdwatching to a release that brings one back to center, Gresky reflects, â€œIt is one of most peaceful experiences there is. Nowhere else are you more in the moment than out there in nature birdwatching.â€
One of the best ways to get into birding is with a field trip. Local group trips offer the expertise of master birders, a chance to meet others with similar interests in nature, and a fun yet educational excuse to get outside. Visit the Seattle Audubon Society website for more info at www.seattleaudubon.org.
Youâ€™ll want to bring field glasses or binoculars, a Northwest bird identification book (Birds of Seattle & Puget Sound recommended), and a notepad for sketching. Whether they are surfing the waves, perched in a tree, or soaring high above, birds from the common loon to a yellow-bellied sapsucker make their homes in West Seattle. Next time youâ€™re out and about, look out and up for the feathered phenoms of the neighborhood.
Where: West Seattleâ€™s parks such as Fauntleroy, Lincoln, and Schmitz
Price: Free; BYOB (bring your own binocs)
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.