Palouse to Pines Loop
Ed Newbold
Under the watchful eyes of a live Great Horned Owl and Red-tailed Hawk, the sixth route of the Great Washington State Birding Trail, the Palouse to Pines Loop, was unveiled in the Cherberg Building on the state capitol campus Jan. 26th. The owl and hawk are species of birds regularly seen on this part of the birding trail that winds through eastern Washington. 

"The Palouse to Pines Loop will bring new visitors and new dollars to our rural areas, and gives us yet another reason to be good stewards of our lands and waters," said Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. "The birding trail is a guide to many of the special places along our state's eastern corridor." 

She received a framed copy of the map at the unveiling event from Audubon Washington Birding Trail Program Director Christi Norman. According to Norman, birding "trails", now offered in more than 30 states, are 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 Palouse to Pines Loop, which features 215 of Washington's 346 annually recorded bird species. 

Year-round, Boreal Owls and Boreal Chickadees tuck away in alpine forests; Pygmy Nuthatches and White-headed Woodpeckers favor old-growth Ponderosa pines. Black Terns and Common Nighthawks arrive in spring along with thousands of feathered migrants that come courting: Mountain Bluebirds, Yellow Warblers, Black-chinned Hummingbirds - plus swallows, sparrows, and shorebirds. Common Loons nest on hidden lakes. American White Pelicans visit in summer followed in fall by hundreds of Tundra Swans, and in winter by extravagant numbers of waterfowl. 

Millions of years of plate tectonics, lava flows, glaciation, and cataclysmic floods have sculpted eastern Washington's stunning terrain. The region enjoys distinct seasons: winter snow, spring wildflowers, summer heat, fall harvest. Evergreen and leafy trees, pothole lakes, shrub-steppe, rivers large and small, and irrigation channels nourish flora, fauna, and farms. 

The Palouse to Pines Loop of the Great Washington State Birding Trail was developed and funded by Audubon Washington, the Washington State Department of Transportation, Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and individual contributors. Like the first five maps, the new publication features original artwork by noted Washington wildlife painter Ed Newbold. 

Palouse to Pines Loop
The live birds featured at the Palouse to Pines unveiling ceremony came 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 the 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, and the Sun and Sage Loop in 2009. One additional route covering the Puget Sound area will complete the birding trail 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.

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Copyright  2013 National Audubon Society, Inc