Updated May 10, 2024 - Things to Do

Why Seattle in spring is a great place for bird-watchers

A Swainson's thrush bird stands on a rock.

The song of Swainson's thrush is considered among the most lyrical to be found in the lowland forests of Puget Sound. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Seattle area is home to a wide range of native birds, as well as migratory visitors who make their way to Puget Sound in spring.

Why it matters: Research shows that a connection with nature improves our mental and physical health, and that watching and listening to birds provides special healing results.

The latest: Birds Connect Seattle, formerly known as Seattle Audubon, is hosting numerous bird outings and hikes at Green Lake, Seward, Magnuson and other spots over the next few weeks.

  • The organization's annual fundraising Birdathon, tied to how many species a single birder sees, is also this weekend.

The intrigue: The Seattle area's wide range of microclimates — from old-growth forests to wetlands and shores — make it a great place to spot a variety of species, Hanae Bettencourt of Birds Connect Seattle told Axios.

  • This time of year, Seattle-area birders are likely to see and hear regional residents like the black-capped chickadee, Anna's hummingbird and Pacific wren — as well as migrants such as Wilson's warbler, Swainson's thrush and the rufous hummingbird.

Top spots for local bird-watchers include many of the city's parks and golf courses. Try the Washington Park Arboretum, Marymoor Park, Discovery Park and Camp Long in West Seattle.

The big picture: Bird-watching enjoyed an explosion of interest during the pandemic and continues to lure newcomers, according to Birds Connect Seattle.

  • It's inclusive, has a low barrier to entry and can be enjoyed equally during walks or from bedroom windows, wrote Birds Connect Seattle chapter member Monique McClure in a blog post.

Plus: Listen to the lyrical song of a Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus).

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include this month's Birdathon and hikes.

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