Fishing and Ornithology

Go Fish

Language, its a virus
I first got into bird watching when I puchased a house
on Mission Lake. The ducks, osprey, eagles, etc. were amazing
to watch. This hobby goes quite nicely with Fly Fishing and I
would be suprised if most FFishers don't have a basic knowledge
of most common birds. When I go fishing with a group I'm the one
that gets asked "what kind of bird it that?" Now don't get me wrong,
I do not keep a log of every bird spotted...but if I see something
unusual I'll try to look it up in Audubon or Sibleys when I get home.

What are the more rare or unusual birds you have spotted in the NW.

Thanks, David


Active Member
Unusual, hmmmmm. I saw a bittern walking along the bank of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish once; the only time I've actually seen one, though I've often heard them particularly while fishing eastside lakes. Last year, floating the Yakima, my trip apparently coincided with the peak of the yellow-rumped warbler migration; a lovely, little blue-gray, white and yellow bird. We must have seen hundreds of them, active in the riverbank trees, between Ringer and Umtanum. On a March float of the Yakima this year, we saw two great horned owls perched in trees along the river.

Sometimes, particularly on float trips when I have enough room to carry it, I'll take along the Audubon or Sibley guidebook.


Sculpin Enterprises
When camping along the Elwha, I love to watch the dippers dive into the slack pools in search of insects. And the Elwha is a great place to see Harlequin ducks, one of my favorites.

I usually make two trips to Leech Lake each summer. Each morning, I walk the trail that runs around the lake, past the talus slope, and into the wooded hills above the lake with my bird book and binocs to identify all the mountain birds. In a three-day trip, I'll usually identify 30 - 40 species of birds; last summer, I watched a pair of flickers that were courting, a synchronized dance of neck bobs and calls. The mammals are pretty cool too. The pikas that live in the talus slope are a kick and occasionally there are otters or minks along the shore. The only downsides of that walk are the cross-country runners from the resort who spook the birds during their training runs and the hordes of mosquitoes that emerged the night before and see me as their first meal.


Chester Allen

Fishing addict and scribbler
I haven't seen rare birds as much as birds doing rare/weird things. Such as:

Bald eagles walking around the beach at Westport.
Great blue herons stalking garter snakes along the Yakima and Deschutes rivers.
Puget Sound Sea gulls herding a confused sea-run cutthroat trout that was caught in a small stream at low tide.
Crows laying their heads sideways on a asphalt parking lot to sip spilled coffee.

I agree that an addiction to fly fishing can lead to a birding addiction. I started carrying a guide book because I wanted to know the names of the birds I saw while on the water. However, I've learned that even the best guide book cannot help me identify juvenile sea gulls....

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Red shouldered hawk in Kent. Also saw avocets down there one year - not common on the wet side. Red knots at Grays Harbor. I really like the cacophony from the RWBB, YHBB and marsh wrens on the dry side. One of my favs is tha canyon wren call. I also get a kick out of watching the aerial displays from the sand hill cranes.

David, I would agree that a good share of us enjoy all aspects of being out. I have really gotten into the desert wildflowers, which started about two - three weeks ago.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
My wife has a pretty good set of feeders and we attract lots of birds. Most are probably fairly common locally but there are a few that really entertain us. Hummingbirds galore, and recently a pair of Starlings have arrived. I know that they compete with many such as woodpeckers for nests, but they are an interesting addition. We have several varieties of woodpeckers and lots of the usual. My personal favorites are the flickers and the woodpeckers. Fun to watch with my daughters. We also keep the Audubon guidebook handy for identification, sometimes we will even hike with it. That has proven to be good when we run into various herons along the shores and owls in the woods. We have an Osprey nest in our neighborhood and during one period of many missing cat reports I've seen a bald eagle in one of our larger cedar trees in the back yard.

Rob Ast

Active Member
I have been birding with my wife for years before I started fishing. I would have to agree that it is usually the behaviors that are interesting to observe where I fish, not the species. I will definitely be bringing my binoculars on my upcoming trip to the dry side lakes. Of note, my binoculars are way more expensive than any of my rod/reel combos (but then I guess I only have 1 pair of binoculars).
For me it is what you see birds doing while fishing.

1. The Goshawk diving out of the tree trageting the mallard ducklings. Momma mallard with wings flared charging the hawk. Momma wins.
2. The bald eagle chasing down the canadian goose in the air. The explosion of feathers. The goose landing in the lake and swimming away. Goose brused but alive.
3. The Peregrin Falcon smoking by us in Sitka sounding like a small jet and the explosion as it hit the sea bird. Sea bird dinner.
4. And, of course, all the osprey - The successful and mostly unsuccessful hunts.

1. The Canadian loons. Males charging the pretenders and chasing them all around the lake to protect their breeding rights. For hours a day.
Ok...I am lousy at this.
2.The Southern Greebs dancing on New Zealand lakes

1. The cry of the loon carrying her baby on her back whenever an eagle or hawk flys over.
2. The coots that form a tight flock and follow the poor fellow you have on the end of your fly line almost to the boat.

Really cool stuff. W

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
I have heard and seen Bittern on the East side. Peregrine on the east side. Goshawk flying down the private dirt road I live on. Green Heron on a fork of a small local river.

One bird that always makes me smile is the Water Ouzel (American Dipper). I have watched them while snorkeling in fast mountain streams. For the Ouzel there is no apparent difference between air and water. They will walk down one side of a rock, across the bottom and up the side of another rock without breaking stride. If you watch closely, every time they bob up and down they wink at you.


Scott Salzer

previously micro brew

We have flickers - a ton of them, pileated, downy, hairy woodpeckers and red breasted sapsuckers at our feeder. I look forward to the return of our local neotropical black-headed grosbeaks - which should arrive any day now. Had a pair of eagles in one of our hemlocks on Dec. 26, 2007 - pretty darn cool.

The barred owls have been very noisy lately, they can actually wake you up with their calls. They have a great variation in calling. Have also had great horned owls and a family of screech owls in our maple one year.



Active Member
A few of my favorites, all from Montana. The first time I saw white pelicans on the Missouri I was fascinated. A Great Blue Heron rookery on the Madison was also impressive in the setting sun. Finally, my favorite yellow headed black bird.