The Pacific Northwest is a paradise for birds and mammals in winter. This five-day extended weekend visits one of the best wintering areas for bird life in the state of Washington. Large concentrations of birds are attracted to the area's abundance and variety of winter food in a relatively mild climate.
Our itinerary concentrates on Northwest Washington and a vast area of islands and salt water known collectively as Puget Sound. The habitats we visit in search of birds are quite varied, ranging from open water, tidal currents, mud flats, eelgrass beds, oyster beds, rocky beaches, and harbors, to ephemeral ponds, agricultural fields, and humid forests with gigantic trees. We'll concentrate on four principal groups: raptors, seabirds, waterfowl, and some passerines. Target birds include Merlin, Rough-legged Hawk, Pacific and Red-throated loons, Brandt's and Pelagic cormorants, Rhinoceros Auklet, Trumpeter and Tundra swans, Snow Goose, Brant (dark-bellied form), Greater Scaup, Eurasian Wigeon, Dunlin, Northwestern Crow, Harlequin Duck, Barrow's Goldeneye, Ancient and Marbled murrelets, Common Murre, Surf, White-winged, and Black scoters, Mew and Glaucous-winged gulls, and maybe even a Thayer's Gull or Yellow-billed Loon. And, if we are lucky, we may encounter a Barn Owl, Gyrfalcon, or Snowy Owl along the way.
We anticipate seeing approximately 100 species of birds and a minimum of 10 species of land and marine mammals. But the sheer number of birds concentrated in this area is astounding and the reason we call this tour the "Best of the Pacific Northwest."
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