Take caution and check for road closures due to wildfires in the North Cascades.
| 01/06/2024 | Updated | Adventure - Outdoors, Bird Watching |   

March Is Great for Birdwatching in Whatcom County

Washington State’s northwest corner is on the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America. The flyway extends all the way from Alaska down south to Patagonia. That means you’re in a prime location for birdwatching, wherever you are in Whatcom County. Though you can spot birds all year long in Washington, March is an especially great time for spotting birds in Bellingham, WA. 

Wings Over Water NW Birding Festival, March 15-17, 2024

The annual Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival is packed full of fun-filled activities for the avid birder, novice, and children alike. 

The festival spotlights migratory birds that pass through the Blaine, Birch Bay area on the Pacific Flyway from Alaska.

The birding expo features local vendors, kids’ activities, live bird seminars, live presentations with Sardis Raptor Center, and more! Taking place at Blaine Pavilion Community Center, Blaine Marina Park, Semiahmoo Spit, and Birch Bay. 

See Great Blue Herons

Near Fairhaven Village in Bellingham, WA, the Post Point Heron Colony has attracted Great Blue Herons for more than two decades. 

You can typically view the herons between February and August, which makes March a great time to catch these majestic birds. The birds use the location for nesting, roosting, loafing, foraging and staging. If you can't spot them in their nests high up in the trees, look to the sky - you can often spot them soaring overhead on their way to find food. 

Grab a Guide Book from Village Books

In Fairhaven Village you'll also find Bellingham's beloved indie bookstore, Village Books. Here you can browse and purchase a variety of birding books, guides, and maps of the area, along with other natural history reads. 

While you're there, fuel up with a meal at Colophon Cafe or a pastry and coffee from Evolve Chocolate + Cafe

See our main bird watching page!

This area is officially recognized as the most northerly “Important Bird Area of Washington.” This pristine, shallow marine habitat with extensive intertidal mudflats is adjacent to the U.S.-Canadian border in Blaine, WA. Loons, Brant, Dunlin, Great Blue Herons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, mallards, ducks, grebes and many other migrating aquatic birds are common here in great numbers, carefully eluding Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons who nest high in the surrounding evergreens. 

Semiahmoo Bay is noted by Audubon Washington for supporting “large flocks of all three scoter species; Greater Scaup, four grebe species, many duck species, including Long-tailed and Harlequin Ducks; and small numbers of alcids. Up to 650 loons have been counted here in a single day. Five surveys conducted throughout one winter in Drayton Harbor showed a total of more than 15,000 loons. The highest recorded counts of Red-necked Grebes and Horned Grebes on the Washington Coast occurred in this census.”  

This state park features walking trails on 1.5 miles of saltwater shoreline and 3 miles of freshwater shoreline on Terrell Creek. Acrobatic Dunlin flocks can number in the thousands each winter, alongside Black-bellied Plovers. Brant migrating from Mexico to their arctic breeding grounds also stop here to refuel on the plentiful herring that spawn in the shallow seawater. 

Birch Bay was named for its black birch trees by Archibald Menzies, a member of the 1792 Vancouver expedition. The park’s sweeping views look north to the Canadian Gulf Islands.  

This wildlife area in Ferndale, WA offers visitors their own “birds-eye view” from a 50-foot tower over looking a shallow lake surrounded by extensive wetlands, open fields, forest and riparian zone. The 150 species frequently observed here include honking Canada Geese, stately Great Blue Herons and majestic Bald Eagles, as well as multiple species of owls, hawks and woodpeckers.  

Trails at Tennant Lake include a one-mile long, wood-plank boardwalk loop over the water, meandering under a canopy of Alder and five species of water-loving Willow trees. Listen carefully for Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds and Virginia Rail. In the tall water grasses, Marsh Wren use cattail fluff to build their nests. Washington’s state bird, the American Goldfinch, is a common visitor in summer months. In the winter months, snowy-white Trumpeter Swans are also common at Tennant Lake.  

Be advised that the boardwalk is closed during hunting season and hours of darkness. Dogs are not permitted on boardwalk. Check here for more information. 

This enchanting city park in Bellingham, WA features five miles of wide trails through 209 acres of conifer forest and freshwater wetlands, including Scudder Pond, an urban wildlife preserve owned by the North Cascades Audubon Society and located inside the park. The pond is surrounded by tall grasses and cattails, sheltering Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Green and Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Virginia Rails, and Soras. Look carefully for ducklings, which are a common spring delight.  

Rounding out Whatcom County’s best birding locations is Larrabee State Park, spanning 2,683 acres, including 8,100 feet of saltwater shoreline on Samish Bay, tidelands, coves and two freshwater lakes. Established in 1915 as Washington’s first state park, Larrabee occupies most of the west side of Chuckanut Mountain and is connected to Bellingham city limits via the well-maintained Interurban Trail

The park’s topographic diversity from sea level to 1,940 feet elevation supports a variety of bird habitat. Great Horned, Western Screech, Northern Pygmy and Barred Owls are year-round residents. This is common territory for Pileated Woodpecker and Red-breasted Sapsuckers, as well as wintering Bald Eagles. Marine birds include Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Great Blue Herons and colorful Harlequin Ducks.

Located along the Nooksack River on the Mt. Baker Highway, Deming Homestead Eagle Park is a 100-acre preserve owned by the Whatcom Land Trust and known locally for its spectacular access to wintering Bald Eagles, as five species of salmon use the river for spawning. The cedar-lined river banks are also home to Evening Grosbeaks, Steller’s Jays, American Dippers, Harlequin Ducks and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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