By Irene Perry
Find your favorite winter weather gear and grab your binoculars for some of the best birding of the year in Skagit County. February is a great time to see our feathered friends flocking to the flats. But let’s not forget the loons, grebes and sea ducks visiting our shorelines too.
Some of the best birding can be found on the Samish and Skagit Flats. For raptors, spend your day visiting Samish between Padilla Bay and Alice Bay. Drive near the open fields and look for Northern Harriers flying low hunting. High in the trees there are Bald Eagles pairing up as they start courtship and nesting. American Kestrel, the smallest of five falcons found on the flats, is plentiful this winter and easily viewed. A winter favorite is the Rough-legged Hawk, which is sure to be found in the trees near the West 90 parking area. For the awe inspiring spectacle of thousands of snow geese and hundreds of beautiful swans, head over to the Skagit Flats. One of the best locations to view these birds is the Fir Island Farms Reserve. Snow Geese and Swans can be seen in Skagit Bay and in the surrounding fields. Hunting on the Samish and Skagit Flats ends January 30.
Take a day in February to visit a Skagit shoreline. Red-throated Loons are plentiful near Deception Pass. Plan a visit during ebb tide to view their feeding behavior. Near Green Point in Washington Park, look for Red-necked and Horned Grebes. This is a good location to look for Long-tailed Ducks too. For Brant, head over to Samish Island to the Beach Access where they are commonly seen along with a variety of seabirds to add to your list. Find directions to these locations and other birding sights under Birding on our website skagitaudubon.org.
February is also the time for bird festivals. Two local festivals where you can find Skagit Audubon volunteers are the Arlington Eagle Festival, 2/4 and the Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival, 2/25-26. In addition, there is a Samish Flats field trip scheduled for 2/18. Look for more information under Activities on our website.
There are so many birds to see in February. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful snow-capped mountains that provide a pristine back-drop. Join us for one of the above activities or get out on your own to take in the views of Skagit.