Spring is Prime Bird-Watching Time Near Olympia, WA

Spring brings an amazing variety of migratory birds into the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater area – in addition to the many resident songbirds, raptors, herons, Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles.  There’s even a maternity colony of bats (yes, mammals, but they fly!) at Woodward Bay. From in-city parks to wilderness areas, bird-watchers can view migratory and resident species at:


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

100 Brown Farm Rd, Olympia (Exit 114 off Interstate-5)

360-753-9467; www.fws.gov/Nisqually

  • 3,000-acre preserve for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors and wading birds
  • More than 200 bird species, highlighted by Great Horned Owls and many raptors
  • Established in 1974 to protect migratory birds – viewable from trails & photography blinds
  • Seven miles of hiking trails; kayaking & canoeing permitted outside Brown Farm Dike


Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area

Off Woodard Bay Road NE, 9.6 miles north of Olympia

360-577-2025; www.dnr.wa.gov/nap/nrcadesc.html

  • Washington State’s only Natural Resources Conservation Area in Thurston County
  • 678 acres of shoreline, wetland and mature second-growth forest habitat on Henderson Bay
  • One of the most significant heron rookeries in WA State, plus shorebirds, songbirds, Bald Eagles – and a maternity colony of bats! Wintering habitat for Scoter, Bufflehead and Wigeon.
  • Two hiking trails: one overlooking Woodard Bay and a forested loop trail (closed until May 15 to protect nesting Bald Eagles)


Capitol Lake

In the heart of Olympia (Exit 105 off southbound Interstate-5, Exit 104 off northbound Interstate-5)

360-704-7544; www.visitolympia.com

  • In-city lake with Tumwater Falls Park, Marathon Park, Heritage Park, plus interpretive center
  • Bird sightings: Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Dipper, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Belted Kingfisher, Thayer’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls, American Wigeon, Coot, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Loons, American Coots, and ducks including Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall and Wood Ducks.


Other abundant bird-watching locations near Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater include Black Lake Meadows, Chehalis Western Trail, Grass Lake, McLane Creek, Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, Mud Bay/Perry Creek, City of Olympia waterfront, Priest Point Park, Watershed Park and Fort Lewis Prairies. For details on most of them, visithttp://www.blackhillsaudubon.com/bestplaces/index.html.



Julie Gangler
Media Consultant
Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau
(206) 789-6647

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