Washington Birding Trail Expands to Puget Sound
Visitors with binoculars bring dollars, and conservation incentive to city and shore
Jan. 25, 2012
More information: Christi Norman, Director, Great Washington State Birding Trail,
(206) 652-2444 x 104
OLYMPIA – Under the watchful golden eyes of a live Great Horned Owl a species of bird regularly seen in Puget Sound, the seventh and final route of the Great Washington State Birding Trail, the Puget Loop, was unveiled in the United Churches of Olympia Jan. 25th.
“The Puget Loop will bring new visitors and new dollars, and gives us yet another reason to be good stewards of our lands and waters,” said Dave Brittell, Washington Fish and Wildlife Assistant to the Director. “The birding trail is a guide to many of the special places along Puget Sound.”
He showed a framed copy of the map at the unveiling event.
According to Audubon Washington Birding Trail Director Christi Norman, birding “trails”, now offered in more than 30 states, are usually self-guided driving tours to places where birds are likely to be seen.
With 40+ million Americans describing themselves as interested in bird watching, developers of the Great Washington State Birding Trail hope to entice both local residents and out-of-state visitors to the Puget Loop which features 220 of Washington’s 346 annually recorded bird species.
Cities embrace stately old-growth forests. Freeway exits lead to quiet wetland ponds. Boats ply inland seas to sheltered shores. Busy urban lifestyles find balance in Puget Loop’s exquisite natural areas – some within neighborhoods, some within a day’s journey – that include parks large and small, meadows and mountain tops, and water! Fresh and salty, still and flowing: lakes, rivers, estuaries, intricate bays, and channels.
Year-round stars of the Puget Loop avian show are Bald Eagles, with a supporting cast of Pileated Woodpeckers, Pacific Wrens, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and Pigeon Guillemots. Also featured are Black Oystercatchers on coastlines, Wood Ducks on lakes, and Sooty Grouse and Clark’s Nutcrackers in the alpine. The mild, misty days of fall through spring promise waterside spectacles: migrating Black-bellied Plovers, Western Sandpipers, and Dunlins; wintering Arctic, Pacific, and Common Loons; Harlequin Ducks; rafts of Surf and White-winged Scoters; Western and Red-necked Grebes, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Marbled and Ancient Murrelets, plus Brant and Trumpeter Swans; Heermann’s, Mew, and Thayer’s Gulls; Caspian and Common Terns.
Around much of the Puget Loop, you don’t need a car. You can catch a bus, or bike, or paddle to and through many of the best birding sites. And birders of all ages enjoy front-row seats from the state ferries that crisscross the Sound and weave through the San Juan Archipelago islands, islets, rocks, and reefs.
The new map can be seen online here.
The Puget Loop of the Great Washington State Birding Trail was developed and funded by Audubon Washington, and Seattle Audubon Chapters, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Horizons Foundation, Puget Sound Energy Foundation, and individual contributors. Like the first six maps, the new route features original artwork by noted Washington wildlife painter Ed Newbold.
The Great Horned Owl featured at the Puget Loop unveiling ceremony comes from Vashon Island’s Wolftown, a nonprofit facility that rescues and rehabilitates injured native birds and other wildlife, and offers them for educational presentations.
Together with its local chapters, Audubon Washington produced its first map of the birding trail in 2002, the Cascade Loop. The Coulee Corridor followed in 2003, Southwest Loop in 2005, Olympic Loop in 2007, the Sun and Sage Loop in 2009, Palouse to Pines in 2010, and the Puget Loop in 2011. All maps contain information about habitat, bird species, access, and best seasons for birding. Signs marking birding trail sites will be installed in coming years.
Copies of the Great Washington State Birding Trail maps can be ordered online