Washington State offers incredible birding opportunities, and the state? birding checklist includes roughly 500 species. Washington also offers picturesque landscapes with environments varying from seacoast, rainforest, steep mountains and semi-arid inland with copious amounts of sagebrush.
The Washington Ornithological Society (WOS) provides a forum for birders from throughout the state to meet and share information on bird identification and birding sites. Their annual 2015 conference will be held this summer August 20 to 24, 2015.
For those, like me, who want insurance of spotting birds when vacationing you can head to Woodland Park Zoo with certainty of seeing a wide range of birds.
Woodland Park Zoo
Zookeeper Seth Wagner of Woodland Park Zoo has been working with birds since 2002. He worked at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and Alaska SeaLife Center prior to joining Woodland Park Zoo located in Seattle, Washington. Wagner currently presents daily keeper chats in the flamingo and marsh exhibits.
“We have a very extensive bird collection with lots of species from all over the world,?Wagner said. “Many of these are endangered and bred here at the zoo for the Species Survival Programs (SSP).?Due to the SSP, Woodland Park has many species that are not often seen at other zoos, giving guests a unique opportunity.
The Willawong Station at Woodland Park exhibit transports visitors to the world of the Australian parrot and the Australian grasslands habitat. The aviary includes approximately 100 free-flying birds, primarily small colorful Australian parrots. In Wagner? main exhibit there is a duck food feeder that allows guests to feed the waterfowl in the marsh.
“The avian flight show put on by the raptor staff is also a great opportunity to see birds in flight and learn about raptors here in Washington,?Wagner adds. The Raptors in Flight show is offered twice daily Thursday through Tuesday.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Heading around 45 miles south on I-5 you will encounter another unique birding opportunity at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Currently, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium features a live animal program, which includes birds as well as other animals. This educational show encourages guests to try outdoor activities.
“You?l be so entertained, you won? realize you?e learning, too,?said Suzanne Akerman, staff biologist. While not every bird in the collection performs in every show, you might have the chance to see a green-wing macaw, an eagle owl, or a king vulture flying overhead at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater.
“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a variety of birds, including owls, a Harris?hawk, a red-legged seriema, and a kookaburra,?Akerman said. “My favorite bird species seems to change every week! If I had to choose, I think the king vulture is my favorite right now, but ask me again next week.?lt;/span>
Akerman has been working with birds since 2005. The show at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, entitled Indiana Bones and the Golden Treasure, highlights 10 to 12 different animals to captivate audiences through an engaging storyline. The hi-tech production is an immersive experience, complete with costumes, sound effects and explosions.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers unscheduled animal encounters, during which a handler will take a live animal on zoo grounds for visitors to meet. “Keep an eye out for burrowing owls, a bald eagle, a barn owl, or many other fascinating animal ambassadors,?Akerman said. “Additionally, stop by the Budgie Buddies aviary, where guests can feed these colorful little birds with seed sticks, or just enjoy the flock? bustling and chattering.?lt;/span>
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium just earned the title Best Family Outing of 2015 from King 5 News local voters. You can help birds by partnering with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium? citizen science programs. One program you can do: Learn how to become a purple martin nest-box monitor through the Spot the Swallows course, so you can help scientists track purple martin populations.
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