A stellers jay, a black and blue bird with a tufted head, stands on a rock
(Image credit: Dave Hutchison Photography)

Our avian friends are an endless source of visual and auditory joy. Bird watching is popular around the world, but the Pacific Northwest birds are truly special. The birds of Washington state, Idaho, and Oregon run the gamut from tiny songbirds to ferocious predatory varieties. Many of the region’s birds are aquatic and thrive on the area's abundant fish. Lush forests, beaches, rivers, and treed cities provide plenty of habitat for northwest birds.

A diversity of environments makes the Pacific Northwest ideal for birds. Many species of borers, hummingbirds, songbirds, fishers, and predatory birds make their homes there. Our national bird, the eagle, features prominently in the region. Great herons, Anna’s hummingbird, flickers, and several charming varieties of chickadee call this part of the United States home.

Oregon Birds

Oregon’s coast provides habitat for many fishing birds. The common gull is a frequent sight, but there is also the Brandt’s cormorant, tufted puffin, Northern storm petrels, and the occasional brown pelican. Many birds are migratory and only seen in the warmer periods of the year. A forest walk will find cavity nesters like the Chestnut backed chickadee, and the downy and hairy woodpeckers.

The backyard is also an important and easy space to view the local birds. Depending upon the types of plantings, existence of trees and other factors, the garden could see many types of songbirds, quail and mourning doves. Several varieties of peanut-loving jay birds will liven the landscape with their cacophony of sounds. Bushtits, house finches, spotted towhee, and the dark eyed junco will also perfume the garden with their chatter and song. Hummingbirds flirt with butterflies while the rat-a-tat of the flickers announces their presence.

Idaho Birds

Idaho boasts mountains, rivers, and broad swaths of farmland. It is a cooler state than Oregon and Washington but still houses many species of bird. In the woods there are numerous types of cavity nesting birds. These live in snags and holes in trees. The always fascinating owl category sees barn, barred, flammulated, and boreal owls.

The slightly comical woodpecker group found in the forest includes acorn, downy, hairy, black backed, and Lewis’ woodpeckers. Fly catchers, falcons, wrens, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice of various species will also be present. If you are lucky, you might also spot a turkey vulture.

Near waterways are many species of duck such as the Barrow’s goldeneye. Trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, and the black-crowned night heron are their neighbors. Of course, the well-recognized robin could be in any site, as well as many songbirds and hummers.

Birds of Washington State

The variety of waterfowl in Washington is astounding. More than 500 species of bird have been cataloged. Ross, Canada, greater white-fronted, emperor, and snow geese are common components of lakes, rivers, and streams. Joining them are many varieties of teal, swan, duck, widgeon, loon, osprey, scoter, and goldeneye.

In forested areas there are many arboreal and terrestrial birds. Quail, grouse, pheasant, ptarmigan, chukar, and partridge reside both in forested and grassland. Anywhere you look you will find pigeons such as Eurasian, band-tailed, rock, and mourning doves.

Coastally plovers, sandpipers, gulls, puffin, terns, and oystercatchers pepper the sky and sands. Many varieties of hawk, eagle, falcon, and owl are the primary predatory birds. The rich variety of habitat between the coastal and eastern parts of the state offer ready glimpses of diverse bird life.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.