On Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, which borders the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and Willapa Bay, spot a pelagic species like a sooty shearwater as hundreds of thousands of waders like black-bellied plover work the wet sand. If you are very lucky, you may see an enigmatic marble worm in an old western red cedar tree, a sea bird that only nests in mossy, mature trees.
Meanwhile, red-winged blackbirds and purple martins flock to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on the Columbia River. Larger sage hens congregate near the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Great Crested Grebes, a red-eyed black and white relative of the flamingo, come into the Klamath Basin near Klamath Falls, Ore.
“Spring is always so fun because we get all of the migrants back,” said Jackie Ferrier, project manager at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Washington. “I mean swallows, ospreys, woodpeckers, warblers, turkey vultures. People think, ah, turkey vulture, but I look forward to seeing them every year. “
Dianne Fuller can relate. After a long career in nursing, Ms. Fuller retired to Loomis Lake on the Long Beach Peninsula, Washington. At the age of 73, she has been observing birds since she was 20.
In spring there is nowhere else she would rather stroll in the early morning dunes or paddle a kayak through the shallow water and point out the kingfishers to her miniature Australian shepherd, Beau, who is stowed on board.
“Medicine is like detective work and it’s the same with birds,” said Ms. Fuller. “If you really watch them, study the length of the bill, the size of the feet, the shape of the wing, all of a sudden you find that this bird fills a niche in this part of the world and it’s just amazing.” TIM NEVILLE