North Oregon Coast
Shorebirding goes through four phases
during the year:
Winter - Some shorebirds spend the winter
along our coast and can be seen for much of the year. Examples of
birds you might see from Sept to April (approximately) are:
Semipalmated Plover, Black Oystercatcher (year-round), Black Turnstone,
Surfbird, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Snipe.
Plenty of other species are seen from time to time in the winter, too.
Spring (northward) migration - April and
May are when most of the spring migration takes place. Since the
Pacific Coast is an important migration corridor you can see almost
anything during this time.
Summer - There are very few shorebirds
around in June, but they start trickling back as early as July in most
years. Black Oystercatchers and a few stray peeps or sandpipers
are about all you are likely to find during this time.
Fall (southward) migration - Usually gets
going in late August and is pretty hot through September, though it
spreads out much longer as the juveniles often wander through later than
When to look:
Most shorebird activity is related more to the tides than
to the time of day. Ebbing tides expose river and ocean shorelines
and expansive mudflats in the estuaries. Flooding tides cover them
up again. When the tides are out the shorebirds are scattered all
over the place feeding at the water's edge or on the mudflats. As
the tide comes in it pushes all of those birds higher and higher until
they are squeezed right off of the beach or up onto dry beach where there
is no food for them. When this happens they go to certain areas
which are often known to birders as "shorebird flats" or
"shorebird ponds." Since it can be very difficult to find
them when they are out feeding, and it can be very easy to find them at
their flats or ponds as they wait out the high tide, it is best to look
for shorebirds during high tides. And the higher, the better because
that reduces the amount of available beach and muddy shoreline even more.
Where to look:
are some good locations to find shorebirds in our area. Most are
where shorebirds are known to congregate and wait out the high
tides. The numbers below are keyed to the blue numbers on the map to
Columbia River estuary. If you go to parking lot
D of Ft. Stevens State Park and look northwards from the parking lot
you will see one of the premier shorebird flats on the coast.
There are a couple of ponds there and a lot of flat around it.
It's protected from the ocean by the jetty to the west and the river
is just over the small dune on the north side of the flats.
Necanicum River estuary. You can see the estuary
from Hwy 101 between Seaside and Gearhart, but the best access for
shorebirding is off the end of G street in Gearhart.
The rocks at (north to south) Ecola, Chapman Point
(Bird Rocks), Haystack Rock, Silver Point, and Hug Point are good
places to see Black Oystercatchers. There are only about 300 of
these shorebirds in Oregon and we're lucky to have many of them right
Cannon Beach sewage ponds are a good place to find
phalaropes, especially after stormy weather. They're at the east
end of 2nd street in downtown CB.
The Nehalem Bay shorebird flats are very difficult to
access unless you have a boat. However...
The Nehalem sewage treatment ponds and the surrounding
fields are another good location for shorebirds in the Nehalem Bay
area. To get there, take the first right after crossing the
Nehalem River bridge (hwy 101) southbound or the last left just before
crossing it if you are northbound. That puts you on Tidelands
Road. You'll pass under the bridge and the sewage ponds are only
about 1/4 mile farther on the left.
Birds & Birding