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Birding at the Beach
Where to see birds
on the north Oregon coast.

Nesting Brandt's Cormorants.  Actual view through my spotting scope.  Oswald West State Park, June 16, 2000.


North Coast birding map.

   There are lots of good places to see birds on the north Oregon coast.  Here are some of our favorites.  (Keyed to the red numbers on the map.)  Keep in mind that the birds at a particular spot will vary with the seasons.

1.  South Jetty, Columbia River.  (SJCR)  This is one of Oregon's premier spots for finding rare and unusual birds.  Almost completely surrounded by salt and fresh water as well as tidal marshes SJCR is an excellent place for spotting sea birds, shorebirds, and ducks. And it is a long point of land making it a good migrant trap. Parking lot C has a viewing tower (use binoculars or spotting scope!)  View encompasses the ocean (sea birds, whales) some of the river estuary (sea birds, diving birds), excellent shorebird flats, and grassy hummocks (raptors, sparrows.) Once an interesting bird is spotted, you can try to get closer to it on the ground. Parking lot D has a viewing bunker overlooking tidal flats where you can see many kinds of ducks and shorebirds.

2.  Ecola State Park. From the viewpoint: whales, sea lions, pelagic and shore birds. Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons nest in the park and can often be seen hunting sea birds here. Good view of Bird Rocks with a scope. Lots of coastal rainforest habitat. Good for forest owls.

3.  Bird Rocks. Nesting site of approximately 28,000 Common Murres each year. Also many Brandt's Cormorants. When the birds are nesting there are so many of them that it looks like the rocks have a flattop haircut!

4Haystack Rock, at Cannon Beach.  Nesting site for Tufted Puffins, Western Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, and Pigeon Guillemots.  No climbing!  Please stay off the rock.  While in Cannon Beach, be sure and check out the treatment ponds at the east end of second street.  A viewing tower has been built and you can sometimes see very interesting birds in or around the ponds. Green Herons have nested there as well as Wood Ducks.  When winter storms blow and during migrations are good times to look for other unusual birds.

5.  Oswald West State Park. A large, natural park with varied beach, cliff, and rainforest habitats.  Most birds which can be seen on the north coast can be seen here.  Great views from the Neahkahnie viewpoint (right on Hwy 101) for pelagic birds, Bald Eagles, Peregrine falcons, and whales.  Numerous trails lead through coastal spruce and hemlock forests with sunny clearings, rocky outcrops, beaches, streams, etc. You can usually find Pileated Woodpeckers and many other arboreal species, American Dippers along the streams, Rufous Hummingbirds, and many songbirds.

6.  Nehalem Bay State Park occupies most of the Nehalem River spit.  It is pretty long and narrow with the ocean on one side and the bay on the other.  The boat ramp is a good place to park.  You can walk around in the scrub or just sit and watch the diving birds out on the bay.  Be sure and get there when the tide is coming in. You can also park in the day-use area and walk out to the end of the spit. Birds are numerous in the brush and seasonal ponds.  You may see Great Blue Herons, Northern Harriers, various sparrows and warblers, etc.  If you go clear out to the end of the spit, you will see hundreds of Harbor Seals.  But don't get too close to them!  They are easily disturbed and that can cause them to expend valuable energy or even roll over and crush their young.  And it is illegal to harass them.  Just take your binoculars and look from the dunes.

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