nisqually nwr

yesterday i decided to head up to the nisqually national wildlife refuge just north of olympia, washington.   i got distracted for a bit near the cowlitz river... a tree full of chickadees was fun to watch...

i finally arrived at the refuge,  and i was really afraid it was going to be terrible because it was practically on the highway and there were a million people milling around.. i made my way up the first trail i came across.. and this guy popped up about 30 feet in front of me to cross a main trail:

i don't remember ever being this close to a coyote outside of my car... that was pretty cool.

the gravel trail winds around a corner past two old barns (the twin barns) and the landscape opens up.  i spotted this guy close to the barns:

a third year bald eagle!

further up the trail a mother and her son (maybe 12 years old) were setting up a scope and camera.. the boy was scanning for maybe 30 seconds when he found this scene:
towards the right is a great blue heron and to the left sitting up on some moss is an owl!  even the mom was like "how the heck did you find that??"   here's another zoomed-in picture:

so cool.  probably a short-eared owl! (thanks, laura!)

i was leaning on a fence taking pictures until a little kid ran up and jumped on the fence and yelled "spider!" i looked down and they were everywhere! oops.

looks like some brown-headed cowbirds.

a red-tailed hawk.  there were a few of these guys flying around- unfortunately it was pretty far away and my pictures are mostly blurry....
red-tailed hawk in the tree, and a northern harrier in flight.

oh and of course there were a bunch of canada geese...

a spotted towhee...

i believe this is the same eagle i had photographed earlier...

this one is super blurry (it was only 3:00 but the clouds made it seem like twilight) but you can see the head markings pretty well...

 i loved my visit to this place despite the masses of people and children running and yelling (thanks for scaring off the river otter, kids, thanks a lot).   i took tons more pictures of just scenery- the clouds and sun were just perfect that day.

thanks to nicole for the recommendation!!


  1. Love your blog! I'm gonna send Laura of Laura Goes Birding over here to ID those hawks for you. She knows her stuff!! Looks like a fun day. I like your scenic photos at the end of the post.

  2. Hi Jen,
    What a fun blog you have! Wonderful photos! Your luck with coyotes is impressive.
    Let me help you with a few IDs. Your Swainson's Hawk is a 3rd year Bald Eagle. They don't get the full set of white head and tail until they're 4th year but show more and more white each year til it's complete.
    Your potential Northern Hawk Owl is a Short-eared Owl, a relatively common day flying owl. Leave it to a kid to spot the owl every time!
    The flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds could also be Brewer's Blackbirds but I can't tell from the photo.
    The next shot of a Harrier is actually a Red-tailed Hawk - they show golden splotches on the back. It also does not show the characteristic white rump of the Harrier. However, the shot after that shows a Harrier in flight and a Red-tail perched. Great!
    That's great that you're getting out so much! I'll enjoy checking in to see how much more you don't hate birds.
    Laura aka Birdnerd

  3. PS. You might consider buying the book Birds of the Willamette Valley Region by Harry Nehls. Since it's only birds that occur here it narrows your choices greatly. The region officially extends way up into Washington, down to Eugene and between the Coast and Cascade Ranges and includes around 200 species. It's a great reference.


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