Monday, January 16, 2012

Where should I go birding in February?

I don't know about you, but I find February a hard month to decide where to go birding. This last month of winter has no new bird movements. This can actually be a good thing, as any rare bird reported in the last several weeks is likely sitting tight wherever it is, waiting for spring.

There is one group of birds for which February is often the best time... gulls. Because they are difficult to identify in their immature plumages, many birders "don't do gulls." But there are known concentration points, such as landfills, sewage lagoons, and city parks, where these birds gather in late winter. They allow close study (and photos).

One such place is Westmoreland Park in Portland, Oregon. (See Birding Oregon info.)

Where are you planning on watching birds in the coming month and what species do you hope to see there? Are you a field trip organizer? We want to hear what you offer (fee or free). Leave your response in the Comments section as ideas for others.

I am scheduled to give a presentation at the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls, February 19 (see below). I hope the passes over the Cascades are free of ice and snow! My second wish is for sunny weather for photos that weekend--as I haven't birded in this area in many years!

Bird Festivals:

San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival
February 10-12, 2012
Mare Island, California

Winter Wings Festival
February 17-19, 2012
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Begun as the Klamath Falls Eagle Conference over 30 years ago, this is the longest-running festival in the United States! Naturalist, birder, and author Kenn Kaufmann and international photographer Darrell Gulin will be the keynote speakers.

Whooping Crane Festival
February 23-26, 2012
Port Aransas, Texas

California Duck Days
February 24-25, 2012
Davis, California

Cove Palisades Eagle Watch
February 25-26, 2012
Madras, Oregon

Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival
February 25-26, 2012
Stanwood, Washington


  1. I find gulls as interesting as any other birds as well. A few years ago there was a flock of Bonaparte Gulls in the Lilliwaup Bay here on the Hood Canal. It was fascinating to watch how they worked together to find food.

  2. February is a great time to study waterfowl. The males are in full breeding plumage, and the hunting season is over, making observation much more pleasant (and safe). I am teaching a Willamette Valley waterfowl class/field trip for Portland Audubon Feb. 23 and 25. Info available at

  3. Jeni, Bonaparte's Gulls are so delicate and graceful compared to the larger gulls. They certainly are a joy to watch.

    Great idea, John!

  4. Winter Wings festival in Klamath Falls is awesome! See the largest wintering congregation of Bald Eagles in the lower 48! Went a couple years ago and saw 56 eagles in less than an hour. Lots of workshops and field trips. Well organized and a lot of fun.

    Also, just before this cold front hit, I saw a small flock of what I first thought were Cedar Waxwings but when they flew I clearly saw red on their heads. Didn't have my field glasses, darn it. Do you think we've had visitors here in S. Oregon high desert from way south due to the long dry spell?

    Love the blog!

  5. Thanks for the comments, Susan. That's exactly the type of comments I was hoping to generate. As far as your birds, I cannot be sure. Any more southerly crested birds with red on their heads do not flock like waxwings! House Finches, Cassin's Finches, and Red Crossbills all have red heads to varying degrees and could be your flocking birds, but they do not have crests.

  6. Ever since I learned about the Raptor Road Trip, I have loved Sauvie Island in February. This year's RRT is on Feb 4 and I will be there volunteering!

    I am leading a birding trip to Sauvie Island on Wednesday, Feb 15 with Portland Parks and Recreation. Details here:
    Transportation is provided from Portland. On last year's trip we saw 35 species - not too shabby!

  7. Thanks for the tip, Elvira. And mid-February is perfect on Sauvie Island for Sandhill Cranes, too!

  8. I just learned of a new bird festival in Edison, Washington.

    Edison Bird Festival, February 11-12, 2012.