With March coming back around and the seasons on the verge of changing over, spring migration is in swing for the birds of Northwest America! With that comes the return of the Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival! The festival, now in its 20th year, will take place March 17–19 around the coastal waters of Drayton Harbor, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo. There are tons of activities like guided field trips, speakers, live raptor shows, and more to enjoy, but we thought we’d give everyone a head start by introducing you to some of the birds you could spot during the festival!


Photo by Eric Ellingson

These gray-brown birds are in the sandpiper family, and look a bit like little round seagulls with long black bills. They walk mudflats and beaches and use their bills to forage for food in the ground. Most of the time you’ll see them in large flocks, which makes spotting them extra fun. In the air, the flocks will appear to swirl and move in rippling patterns, almost like a huge synchronized ballet in the air.

Black Oystercatcher

Photo by Eric Ellingson

These crow-sized birds forage rocky shores in pairs. They stand out against their habitats, with all-black bodies, pale legs, and red-orange eyes and bill. These guys are like flying otters; they find mussels and will sometimes crack them open to feed on them, leaving behind the open shells.

Double Crested Cormorant

Photo by Eric Ellingson

This larger, heavy-boned bird floats low in the water. It has a long neck and a wickedly curved bill, which it uses to catch fish as it dives underwater after them. Although almost matte-black from far away, through a good pair of binoculars you can see their orange faces and bright blue mouths.