USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Bird Checklists of the United States

The Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington

Spokane, Washington

Common Loon
Common in spring and fall on the larger bodies of water, such as Banks and Sprague Lake, or big sloughs in wet years. There are five known sightings in early July.
Pacific Loon
Rare fall migrant. Most sightings in the Banks Lake area and lakes near Spokane.

Pied-billed Grebe
In open permanent marshes, lakes and slow moving rivers. Individuals often winter over.
Eared Grebe
Common in summer on permanent marshes. Reardan slough has many pairs. A few individuals winter over when conditions are not too severe.
Horned Grebe
Like the Red-necked Grebe, this species favors bigger lakes, and reaches here the southern edge of its breeding range. It is an uncommon summer breeder. More visible during spring and fall when the species migrates. Sometimes observed in winter.

JPEG--Eared Grebe

The Eared Grebe can be  easily observed in summer.
Red-necked Grebe
This species favors large lakes in the forest area to the north. A common breeder only a few miles further north, it is almost rare in the scablands and only in lakes with forested shorelines such as in the Cheney - Medical Lake area, was also recorded at Blue Lake.
Western Grebe
Fairly common breeder along Banks Lake and Sun Lakes, where their spectacular display ballet can be observed in April. Seldom winters over but often individuals stay as late as the end of November.
Clark's Grebe
Breeds in the Pothole Reservoir area and perhaps in other lakes and backwater marshes. Seen here and there, but a rare species outside of the Pothole Reservoir.

American White Pelican
A recent arrival after several decades of absence. Non-breeding populations are present throughout the summer near Potholes Reservoir. They numbered about 200 individuals in 1994. A group of up to fifty summered at Sprague Lake and they were observed at Banks Lake also. At this date breeding appears to have taken place but has not been officially confirmed. The species nested successfully in 1994 on Crescent Island near Burbank.

Double-crested Cormorant
A very common and highly visible species that previously was confined to the Potholes Reservoir. It is however regularly observed at other locations such as along the Snake, Columbia and Spokane Rivers, or when in transit between those locations.

American Bittern
Very uncommon and generally rarely seen. Its habitat of reedy permanent shallow marshes is practically nonexistent in the scablands. Is no doubt present but very locally around irrigation fed large bodies of slow moving water. Observed regularly at Turnbull NWR.
Great Blue Heron
Relatively common and widespread. An opportunistic bird, it can be observed anywhere there is food. Several heronries exist where breeding takes place from April to late July. All have dispersed by August.
Great Egret
Once a rare bird, its breeding population at the Potholes Reservoir north shore has increased to about thirty pairs. Not known to breed anywhere else at this writing, but is often seen in the spring at other locations.
Snowy Egret
At least two confirmed records: Badger Lake and Potholes Reservoir.
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Probably uses unknown heronries in the spring, but is present i the largest numbers at Potholes Reservoir, where its numbers seem to have peaked at about 150 pairs and are now slightly declining. Widespread in the surrounding area.
Cattle Egret
Rare but the number of records is increasing in the area. Small groups have been seen at Othello and Banks Lake in recent years.
Green Heron
One record from the Columbia NWR.

White-faced Ibis
Although this species is becoming more common in central Oregon it is still a rare sighting in the scabland, with one or two a year. Has been observed at Turnbull NWR and Reardan slough, where birding activity is heavy. Several records for the Othello area, but a difficult species to locate. A possible breeder.

Tundra Swan
Very common on waters with reachable food in fall and spring. A few will winter in the south end of the scablands and even further north if waters remain open. The species was noted (17 ind.) on the 1994 Spokane Christmas Bird Count.
Trumpeter Swan
The possibility exists throughout the region that a trumpeter swan or two will be present in a flock of tundras. The last survivor of the Turnbull NWR flock still receives winter visits by one or maybe two Trumpeters that could be former Turnbull residents. Collared individuals have also been observed at Banks Lake in the fall.
Greater White-fronted Goose
Like trumpeters and tundras, the White-fronted Goose occurs regularly among migrating Canada Geese, but sightings are few and far apart. Has been noted at Turnbull NWR, Reardan slough, St. Andrews flats and other locations. By accelerating passages droughts reduce chances for observation.
Snow Goose
Every year a few Snow Geese are observed in the scablands, sometimes alone in very small puddles, sometimes in city suburbs. A hard to miss species if present. The best chance for observations is at Brook Lake near Stratford in October. A small flock spent several weeks at Reardan in the spring of 1995.
Ross' Goose
Very rare. A handful of records, the last in the fall of 1993 at Sprague Lake.
Canada Goose
Wild migrating flocks and non-migrating local breeders are present. At least five of the recognized races can be seen in the area. US Fish and Wildlife has an alert for Aleutian goose. Western, lesser and cackling are most common, although specialists can identify occasional Richardson and Taverner subspecies.

The following ducks are common breeders in the scablands. Their numbers are greatly reinforced in fall and spring by migrating populations:

Mallard Lesser Scaup
Gadwall Ruddy Duck
American Wigeon Cinnamon Teal
Redhead Blue-winged Teal

The following ducks are local and uncommon breeders and are mostly observed in winter or during migration:

Wood Duck Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck Hooded Merganser
Northern Pintail Common Merganser
Northern Shoveler Green-winged Teal
Barrow's Goldeneye
(Suspected breeder at Lake Lenore.)

The following ducks are not breeders in the Scablands and are present from late fall to early spring:

Common Goldeneye
Common in winter.
Common in winter and early spring.
Greater Scaup
Uncommon in winter and spring.
Eurasian Wigeon
Regular fall and spring visitor.
Other ducks:
Red-breasted Merganser
Regularly recorded at Banks Lake and near Spokane. Seen at Reardan in 1994.
Regular but rare winter visitor mostly on Banks Lake, sometimes seen in the Spokane area. Apparently occurs every year.
White-winged Scoter
A few are seen every fall at Lake Lenore and nearby lakes, and is sometimes seen on lakes near Spokane.
Surf Scoter
Occurs in lower numbers than the White-winged Scoter.
Tufted Duck
An apparently wild individual was at Reardan slough in April 1994.
Harlequin Duck
Several records from Spokane, Sprague Lake and Reardan.
The first Eastern Washington record was from the Tri-Cities in December 1994.

Turkey Vulture
Nests here and there in the scablands, more common where carrion is available. Avoids the 'sterilized' field country. Best area: cliffs along Rock Creek from Cheney to Rock Lake.

Very common nester not far north; nests are known along the Spokane and Columbia Rivers. Has nested at Sprague Lake.
Bald Eagle
In winter only, scattered individuals are present wherever water is open and fish or waterfowl is available. A few nest in forest sites farther north, but none in the scablands to our knowledge.
Northern Harrier
Common breeder in fallow or CRP land. Abundance follows rodent cycles. Readily identifiable by its low buoyant flight.
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Barely larger than a robin, this slender hawk is seen in winter around farms and small towns. Nests possibly in the wooded slopes and canyons near the Spokane and Columbia Rivers.
Cooper's Hawk
Perhaps less common but more noticeable than the preceding species, it may be nesting in large groves in or near towns. Seen sometimes in the spring in the most open part of the region.
Northern Goshawk
Nests at Whitestone Ridge north of the Columbia, but no part of the scabland is its habitat. Could be occasionally observed in farm towns and more regularly just west of Spokane in winter.
Swainsons's Hawk
Not very common and may be declining. Was very common in the coulee between Ritzville and Pasco and around Sprague, where it still can be found. Also noted west of Potholes Reservoir. They leave in late September and are back in early April
Red-tailed Hawk
Common hawk of the open country, found year-round.
Ferruginous Hawk
This magnificent bird is a rare resident of the scablands. Perhaps twelve nests, mostly in the south around the Juniper Dunes wilderness.Observed along Crab Creek between Stratford and Marlin, where the rare dark morph was noted. Also check the sky in April around Mohler, Washtucna, Palouse Falls and Pinto Ridge.
Rough-legged Hawk
This hawk breeds in northern Alaska but is common in winter in the scablands. Some individuals linger almost until the end of May. They perch on telephone poles along roads throughout the region. Pale heads, dark bodies and banded tails make their identification easy.
Golden Eagle
Very few nest in the region; several formerly occupied sites are now abandoned. A species of great concern. Reduction of prey species and increased human incursions are suspected reasons for its decline. Favors the limited areas in the scablands that are truly inaccessible. Can be seen soaring near cliff rims such as in the Grand Coulee and along the Columbia River in Lincoln County. More visible in early winter and spring when out of area individuals pass through eastern Washington.
  GIF--Red Tailed and Ferruginous Hawks  
  1  Pale Tail (reddish above).
2  Belly streaks.
3  Heavy wing pattern.
4  Black wing tips.
5  Distinctive "patagial" mark.
6  Dark head.
  1  White tail (pale rufous above).
2  Distinct Dark V (formed by thighs).
3  Lighter windows in wing appear bluish above.
4  White underneath.  Light wing pattern, appears broad chested.
5  Rare in winter.
  GIF--Swainson's and Rough Legged Hawks  
  1  Dark tail.
2  Wings appear longer, more pointed.
3  Dark flight feathers give a striking two tone appearance.
4  Hood to center of chest.
5  Absent in winter. 
  1  Light tail with dark band.
2  Dark belly contrasting with lighter thigh feathers.
3  Very white unmarked base of primaries.
4  Striking black wrist.
5  Pale upper body.
6  Absent in summer.
  GIF--Dark Morph Buteo and Accipiter Genus  
  1  White tail with black band.
2  Clean, white area at base of primaries.
3  Contrasting black wrist still visible.
4  Rufous tail.
4a Harlan's subspecies shows dirty white tail, white blotches and has finer marking on flight feathers.
5  Strong pattern on primaries.
6  Smooth dark brown in R.T. Typ.
  1  Soaring is brief.  Mostly to gain altitude.
2  Sharpshinned is small.  Often tilts in flight.
3  Cooper's and Goshawk have a disconnected tail look (due to white fluff in vent area).
4  Rounded wings with even banded pattern.

American Kestrel
This graceful little falcon is a common breeder around farms that have trees. They are seen perched on wires along roads. Although more common in summer some who no doubt have a secure food supply stay throughout the winter.
Only slightly larger than a Kestrel, but distinguished by its dark tail with light banding and darker coloration. The Merlin nests in a few locations scattered over Washington and the northern Rockies. Shows up in the scablands in August, when it chases migrating shorebirds, but is more commonly seen in winter, when it canvasses large areas.
Peregrine Falcon
A dark-headed dark gray (in the adult) "prairie falcon" is probably a peregrine. Several hacking sites have been established in or near the scablands where the species is occasionally seen. Let's not forget also that a falconer's bird may range nearly two miles from its launch. Wild birds are most often seen in July and August, when fast flying raptors at high altitudes should be checked.
In late winter when flocks of ducks are returning, one or two gyrfalcons may be present, mostly the gray morphs or the gray-brown immatures. Less frequently there is a fall sighting reported, and extremely rarely a white morph. A falcon shaped "buteo" is probably a "gyr." Again one should be alert for falconers' hybrids.
Prairie Falcon
This species breeds in cliffs and although a non-migrating species it ranges widely in winter when it is frequently seen hunting in open country. Like other winter raptors, it perches on telephone poles, but its trim build and protruding head should alert the observer.


The Gyrfalcon follows the early spring duck migration.

Gray Partridge
An introduced species, it was at one time the most common species in Lincoln County. Its numbers, which have peaked, fluctuate in accordance with climate and farm practices. Most visible outside the hunting season in winter when they gather near human dwellings and open roads.
Another non-native cousin, less subject to climate and human disruptions because of its arid and non-farmed habitat. Its abundance is variable. The bare slopes with brushy draws along the Sun Lakes chain south of Banks Lake, and along the Snake and Columbia Rivers are the traditional breeding areas. Not usually found in sagebrush.
Ring-necked Pheasant
Introduced but long established and highly managed; of little ornithological interest.
Blue Grouse
A montane species confined to the wooded slopes near the Columbia River.
Ruffed Grouse
A forest grouse found at the same location as the Blue Grouse, but more likely to be seen at other locations where dense cover is present.
Sage Grouse
Once common, it has dramatically declined in the last ten years. Loss of habitat seems the main reason, although other factors may be behind its decline. A few individuals show up hear and there, sometimes on a formerly active lek. It has even been observed on a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek. It is better for the welfare of Sage Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse not to publicize the locations of their leks until their numbers increase substantially.
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Never common in recent history, this Colombian subspecies is currently very rare. Some leks are still active on private lands and more may be unknown or undisclosed. A habitat restoration project is underway in the scablands as part of the Bonneville mitigating project, in cooperation with state and federal agencies. Although the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse is the target species, and although its vegetation requirements are somewhat different, the Sage Grouse hopefully will also benefit from that effort.
Wild Turkey
Between February 1985 and February 1990, ninety-five Merriam and seventy-one Rio Grande Wild Turkeys were added to a near vestigial population along the Columbia and Spokane Rivers. The Dept. Of Wildlife has increased the bag limit, which may indicate it is doing well.
California Quail
In towns, on larger farms particularly where linked with a stream bottom, and wherever brushy cover is present. Mostly absent from open country.

Virginia Rail
Present but secretive. Found in shallow weeds and cattails mostly at marshy ends of large permanent lakes or sloughs. Rarely seen in winter.
Found in similar habitat as the Virginia Rail, but easier to detect by its ringing call. Also difficult to observe. Both species can be best observed at dawn and dusk in August.
American Coot
A common breeder, most withdraw south in cold winter. Large northbound numbers use any water in late spring. Found from urban areas to open country.

JPEG--Virginia Rail

The Virginia Rail is a secretive resident of permanent marshes.

Sandhill Crane
Does not breed in the scablands. Large numbers rest in the area from March to late April. Favors the Edwall-Sprague area and in greater numbers the plateau west of Banks Lake. They cross the area more rapidly on their return flight in late summer. At that time flocks are sometimes observed but they seldom land. An estimated 12,000 cranes filled the sky above Soap Lake on September 15, 1992.

Shorebird numbers are directly affected by the availability of nutrient rich mudflats. The persistent drought of recent years dried out most of their former end of summer stopover sites. Irrigation fed reservoirs and permanent lake shores such as the north end of Potholes Reservoir, south of the Banks Lake dike, and remaining potholes in the Reardan slough are the best areas during a dry weather cycle.

Black-bellied Plover
Regular migrant in late summer when some individuals retain vestiges of their breeding plumage. Irrigation fed lakes are best in late summer and early fall.
Pacific Golden Plover
Not recorded every year; seen in late summer to early fall only. There are several records from September 4th.
Semipalmated Plover
Can be observed in September and more restrictively in the spring, sometimes in good numbers.
Once an abundant species, this attractive plover is in decline. It is still a relatively common breeder. The killdeer is the bane of birders as it takes pleasure to alarm and disperse more approachable species.

Black-necked Stilt
A beneficiary of irrigation drainage, this elegant shorebird is no longer a rare breeder throughout the scablands where permanent marshy habitat exists. Best areas are the Potholes Reservoir and the Winchester Wasteway. Numbers are off some years.
American Avocet
Early drying of the potholes has impacted the occurrence of this breeder. It still can be observed in good numbers in mid-spring, when it crosses the area on its way to breeding grounds further north. Bred at Reardan in 1994.

Greater Yellowlegs
Fairly common spring and fall migrant; more common in fall (July-Oct.). May be separated from Lesser Yellowlegs by clear three-note whistle given in flight.
Lesser Yellowlegs
Fairly common migrant, most visible from August to October. Generally passes through later than the Greater Yellowlegs.
Solitary Sandpiper
Rare spring and uncommon fall migrant, when it visits the edges of streams, lakes, and even puddles in wooded areas. One of the earlier fall migrants; late July is the best time for observation.
Spotted Sandpiper
Common breeder, found along sheltered streams and lake shores. Not as common as to the north and east of the scablands.
Long-billed Curlew
Fairly common breeder not dependent on bodies of water. A grassland species, it is most common in CRP and government native habitat restoration. Does not favor sagebrush. Good areas are near Rocklyn, Wilson Creek, and Marlin south to the rim of the Snake River.
Marbled Godwit
Barely enough scattered sightings to be listed here; most likely to be seen near the Tri-Cities in mid-August.
Uncommon migrant along lake shores. Easier to identify than most peps in nonbreeding plumage, as the whitish appearance and black shoulder smudge are distinctive.
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Uncommon migrant, separated from the more numerous Western Sandpiper in spring by the lack of rusty patches about the head and back and the thicker and shorter bill.
Western Sandpiper
Uncommon migrant in spring. More common in late summer, with the addition of juveniles.
Least Sandpiper
Uncommon spring and fall migrant. This smallest peep has yellowish legs. Outnumbered by Western Sandpipers in fall.
Baird's Sandpiper
Uncommon spring migrant seen during a short period in April; more commonly seen in fall along the higher and drier lake shores. Most migrate through the Great Plains.
Pectoral Sandpiper
Common migrant, more in fall in grassy areas. Seen later in fall than most other shorebirds.

Rare migrant. In spring black belly is usually present. Can sometimes be picked out among other shorebirds during fall migration by alert birders, since except for the decurved bill, breeding identification marks are no longer there. Known to winter in the Tri-Cities area.

JPEG--Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpipers migrate through the Scablands in good numbers.
Stilt Sandpiper
Very uncommon fall migrant, though regularly seen at Reardan, Potholes Reservoir and Soap Lake from late August through September.
Short-billed Dowitcher
Less common than Long-billed Dowitcher, but is has been identified often in small groups or among Long-billed Dowitchers. The call is different from the Long-billed Dowitcher, but identification by field marks is better left to experts.
Long-billed Dowitcher
Regular migrant in spring and fall. Passage during spring migration is brief. Some retain breeding plumage in early part of fall migration in late July.
Common Snipe
One of our few breeding shorebirds. Sometimes winters over. Irrigated pastures and brushy drainage ditches with flat banks are its habitat of choice.
Wilson's Phalarope
Once a common breeder, its fortunes are paralleling those of the American Avocet. The end of the cycle of dry breeding seasons would improve its status.
Red-necked Phalarope
Uncommon during a very brief and local spring migration (seven days in May!), when it sometimes passes through undetected. Returns more leisurely from August through September. Unmistakable plumage and behavior in both seasons.
Red Phalarope
Irregular, but there are several recent records—three from Reardan, and from Willow Lake, Soap Lake, Banks Lake and in the Quincy area.
The following shorebirds have been rarely recorded. They are very unlikely to be observed but the possibility exists for the sharp birder:
Piping Plover
One record from Reardan in mid-July.
Upland Sandpiper
One record near Reardan in spring migration.
A few spring and fall records.
Ruddy Turnstone
Four records
Red Knot
Four records in May, July and August.
Hudsonian Godwit
Two records from Reardan and Soap Lake.
White-rumped Sandpiper
Two records.
Snowy Plover
At least two old records from Reardan.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
A few August records from Reardan.
Three or four records in April and August.
At least two records, from Banks Lake and Dodson Road.

Franklin's Gull
An uncommon to rare summer visitor, observed in places as diverse as downtown Spokane and Banks Lake. Associates with other gulls. In nonbreeding bird not distinctive smudge on head. Also noted as a rare spring migrant.
Bonaparte's Gull
Uncommon but frequently seen in both spring and fall, singly or in small flocks. Larger concentrations have occurred during migrations over the Sun Lakes and along the Snake River.
Mew Gull
Missed by most observers, but occurs regularly in late fall and winter, sometimes in small groups. Shallow ponds and downstream of dams are good areas to check.
Ring-billed Gull
Our most common gull. Breeding colonies at Sprague Lake and Moses Lake. Ranges widely and is observed anywhere, anytime.
California Gull
Smaller breeding colonies, sharing sites with the previous species. Most leave the scabland in the winter, although the species is still found then only a few miles further west along the Columbia where it has a small permanent range.
Herring Gull
Does not breed very far away in central British Columbia. Can be called common in winter anywhere gulls gather.
Thayer's Gull
Occurs in winter occasionally near the Tri-Cities and at Banks Lake. Hard to identify.
Glaucous-winged Gull
Present in winter but far less common than Herring Gull. More common near the Tri-Cities.
Glaucous Gull
Rare winter gull, but not hard to identify.
Caspian Tern
A breeding colony near Moses Lake provides most of the summer sightings in the region. A possible breeder at Sprague Lake. Absent in winter.
Common Tern
For tern experts only. Sufficient accepted records to justify its listing here. Breeds east of the Rockies.
Forster's Tern
Breeds in the same area as the Caspian Tern, but in much smaller numbers. Common in the Winchester Wasteway and Potholes Reservoir, particularly in spring. Has been observed over most of the major lakes of the area. Becomes uncommon in late summer and spends winter along the California coast. Canadian Prairie migrants may pass through as late as October.
Black Tern
A true marsh tern and common widespread breeder in all permanent scabland waters. Cannot be missed. Most leave for South America before mid-September. Beware our three breeding terns display their winter plumage before leaving.
These species have been rarely recorded but the possibility exists for the sharp birder to find them:
Parasitic Jaeger
Old records from Reardan and the Sun Lakes.
Long-tailed Jaeger
No recent records. August and early September would be the best time.
Sabine's Gull
Recorded more often than the jaegers. Five or six records from late September and October, mostly around Banks Lake.
Black-legged Kittiwake
One was at Reardan in September, 1993.

Mourning Dove
A species of concern, it is a relatively common breeder yet around farms and wood lots. Some winter over.
Rock Dove
(Feral Pigeon) This introduced species occurs both as a near domesticated and as a truly wild year-round resident. It is very common, particularly around grain elevators. Wild pigeons occur on cliffs.

Barn Owl
Nocturnal habits make observations chancy. Judging from road kills and random flushings a small population resides throughout the scablands, not only in barns but in rock cliffs and dense groves as well. Due to structural differences is in a different family from the other owls.
Western Screech-Owl
Nocturnal, occurs in towns mostly.
Great Horned Owl
Common permanent resident, found in same widespread habitat as described for Barn Owl. Its massive bulk and daylight visibility make it easier to spot.
Snowy Owl
A winter visitor from the north. Rare some winters, more common others. Can occur anywhere in open country, but most sightings are in Davenport, St. John, Ritzville, Hartline quadrangle. Usually absent after mid-March.
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Can occur anywhere in winter where there is food and tree cover. Its breeding is limited to a few pairs in the north in the densely forest canyons adjacent to the Spokane and Columbia Rivers.
Burrowing Owl
Range is receding in the northeast. Many nest sites were lost due to habitat alteration. It is still a reasonably common bird south of Creston and in the Moses Lake-Winchester Way area. It will no doubt benefit from various government habitat restoration programs now underway. Arrives early in spring.
Barred Owl
A recent 1995 winter occurrence near Edwall in a very unlikely setting confirmed the suspected presence of this owl in the scablands. A relative newcomer to Washington from the northeast that was first recorded Oct. 2, 1965, this species breeds on the north side of the Spokane-Columbia corridor, and possibly in dense river bottoms south of it.

JPEG--Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owls nest in many locations but are more common  in the South Western part.
Long-eared Owl
Occurs here and there in isolated groves of trees in the open country and more commonly in the forested canyons south of the Columbia. This species leaves its nesting grounds in winter. Some go south, but a few winter over at communal roosts, often in abandoned farmsteads where rodents abound.
Short-eared Owl
Highly cyclical breeder. Quite common in spring when northbound individuals pass through the area. It is a permanent resident of the scablands when rodent populations are high, but is more spotty when they are down. Nests on the ground wherever there is short vegetation. Observations are easier when it hunts at dusk and dawn.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
A discreet nocturnal species that breeds in the dense wooded canyons along the Columbia. Widespread and widely spaced in winter when it can be found anywhere where there is cover and prey. Has also been noted passing through in May.
Flammulated Owl
This most discreet and our only true migrant owl passes through the scablands during its migrations. Several recent records were produced by investigating the alarm behavior of small songbirds. The remnants of a dead individual were picked up from a Spokane city street in 1986.
Northern Hawk Owl
Two winter records from the margins of the area: Bridgeport in 1981 and Spokane in 1992.

Common Nighthawk
Another species of concern. A summer breeder occurring locally, usually near stagnant waters where insects abound. Most visible at dusk when its whirring wing sound is heard. Best spots are the Columbia NWR, the Lakeview Ranch near Odessa, and other similar sites. Winters far south in Argentina. Large flocks assemble locally before starting their journey south.
Common Poorwill
Never about before nightfall, Poorwills arrive in mid-spring from their southwest wintering grounds. Their distinctive call is the best indication of their presence. Prefers arid canyons with scattered trees, therefore found in the northern fringe of the scablands. Has also occasionally been discovered in sagebrush.

Vaux's Swift
A summer breeder in the mountains that frame the scablands. It is mostly seen in the skies of the northern and southern areas when the weather provides heavy low clouds, but can be seen over the whole region when migrating.
White-throated Swift
Summer breeder, one of the fastest birds in the world. This species is doing well as it breeds even in downtown Spokane freeway bridges. In the country it is present near high cliffs at many places. The Interpretive Center at Dry Falls near Coulee City is a convenient observation point.
Black Swift
Five or six were observed near Reardan on May 26, 1980. It may occur without the prompting of a volcanic eruption!

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Common in surrounding areas, this species does not breed in arid country and is therefore practically absent in the scablands during the summer.
Calliope Hummingbird
This species also avoids the most arid scablands. It is common in river bottoms particularly in April after its spring arrival.
Rufous Hummingbird
Most breeding takes place in the surrounding forested area. Orchards, farms with conifer groves and small towns are the places to look for it; even open country during migrations.

Belted Kingfisher
Permanent resident. Leaves the area only when all waters are frozen. Its rattling call signals its presence. Can be observed near fishing resorts on lakes, along streams and on ponds wherever food is available.

Lewis' Woodpecker
Uncommon breeder along the north and west boundaries of the scablands, observed only during the early spring passage in open country. Is not attracted by towns or groves. This species is not doing well in our area.
Red-naped Sapsucker
Regular breeder in the northeast and southeast boundaries of the scablands. It occurs during spring passage wherever there are dense trees, but only seldom breeds there, mostly in the periphery.
Downy Woodpecker
Permanent resident in farm groves, in small towns and wherever dense trees are provided. It can be seen in open country in early spring as it feeds on strong weeds such as mullein or curly dock.
Hairy Woodpecker
Similar to previous species, but more restricted to tree groves. Distinguished from the Downy by the larger size and longer bill.
Northern Flicker
The Red-shafted race of this species is a common permanent resident, even in open country as its cavity requirements are very broad and its feeding requirements are not limited to tree trunks. Yellow-shafted races and YS x RS hybrids are to be watched for as they occur in early spring or late summer and more rarely as breeders.
Pileated Woodpecker
Has been noted in the wooded canyons near the Spokane and Columbia Rivers. It may wander from time to time as a May 1994 presence in the Davenport cemetery indicates.
The following species of woodpeckers are breeders locally in variable surrounding areas. Their occurrence in the scablands is incidental. They can be common for a short time at a specific location such as a recent burn.
Black-backed Woodpecker
Only in burns for a limited time. Has bred in a Spokane burn.
White-headed Woodpecker
Could be present in the south side of the Spokane River.
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Two recent records from Davenport and Liberty Lake.

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Uncommon spring and fall migrant in the northern fringe of the scablands. Breeds in mountains of northeastern Washington. Often gives its unique whip-three-beers song from the top of a conifer.
Western Wood-Pewee
Common breeder in the ponderosa pine woodlands. Noticeable as a bird that calls through the middle of hot midsummer days.
Willow Flycatcher
A fairly common migrant and breeder that is usually found in the vicinity of water. This and the five Empidonax species that follow are very similar to each other, and usually best identified by voice.
Least Flycatcher
A rare flycatcher that is apparently regular in the northern and eastern reaches of the scablands. It has been seen at Turnbull NWR, and there are three recent early summer records from the canyons of northern Lincoln County. It seems to like aspen and alder trees. Song is an incessant che-bek che-bek che-bek... A bird to look for.
Hammond's Flycatcher
Apparently the earliest migrant of the Empidonax flycatchers. Very difficult to separate from the Dusky Flycatcher, but usually sings from the tip of a conifer. Perhaps a breeder in some of the northern woods of the scablands.
Dusky Flycatcher
The most common Empidonax in wooded areas, it is usually active in the lower to middle levels of the canopy. Favors sunnier, more exposed areas than Hammond's Flycatcher.
Gray Flycatcher
Recently found to be locally common in the wooded scablands of Spokane and Lincoln Counties. This flycatcher is distinctly lighter than its relatives, and also has the distinctive habit of slowly lowering its tail.
Pacific-Slope Flycatcher
The Western Flycatcher has been split into this and the Cordilleran Flycatcher, which occurs to the east. This bird is an uncommon migrant and breeder in forested areas, where it prefers shady spots.
Say's Phoebe
A very early migrant for a flycatcher, this species may reach the scablands in early February. It is often seen around the rock faces of the channels or in the vicinity of farm buildings, where it builds its nest in a covered, shady place.
Ash-throated Flycatcher
A rare breeder in the southern parts of the scablands. Has been found in the Potholes area, near Washtucna, and along Crab Creek south of Harrington.
Western Kingbird
A common roadside bird often seen on utility wires in open areas. Noisy and aggressive around its nest. Comes into area in mid-April.
Eastern Kingbird
Arrives in the area in May a full month later than the Western Kingbird. Tyrannus tyrannus is often seen harassing hawks and other birds much larger than itself.

Horned Lark
In many agricultural areas the most common bird. It likes dry open country, and often nests in the middle of cultivated fields. When the ground is snow covered it is often seen on roads. However, wintering birds may not only be different individuals from the summer birds but different subspecies.

Tree Swallow
A common migrant and breeder in suitable habitat. Like most other swallows, it is often seen in the vicinity of water because of the concentrations of flying insects. A cavity nester, it often nests in snags just above steams and lakes. It may also nest in backyard nestboxes.
Violet-green Swallow
One of our earliest long distance migrants to arrive, its bright iridescence is an early sign of spring. In the southern part of the scablands it may be seen as early as February. It often nests on the faces of rock cliffs.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
A nondescript brown swallow that is usually associated with water. It excavates nest burrows in earthen banks, but is not as gregarious as the Bank Swallow.
Bank Swallow
A fairly common breeder, it occurs locally where steep sand banks or road cuts are utilized for the large nesting colonies.
Cliff Swallow
A common bird that is another colonial nester. However, rather than nesting in an excavated hole, it builds roundish mud nests with a side entrance. Seen in dense flocks where it nests along rock faces or under bridges. Abundant in the Grand Coulee basin.
Barn Swallow
A well-known swallow because of its affinity for farm buildings. Water must be nearby for the construction of the mud nests under eaves and along timbers.

Steller's Jay
A fairly common resident in its restricted habitat within the scablands. it is found in the timbered areas near the Spokane and Colombia Rivers. An accomplished mimic, particularly of Red-tailed Hawks.
Blue Jay
Wanders in rarely but regularly in winter from breeding areas east of the Rockies. Seen in the Spokane area, the Tri-cities and towns in the Palouse. Seems to be appearing in increasing numbers.
Clark's Nutcracker
An uncommon visitor and perhaps breeder in the woods of Spokane and Lincoln Counties. It acts similar to its jay relatives.
Black-billed Magpie
An often abundant resident, it is strongly associated with large domesticated animals. The magpie is omnivorous and a scavenger, and very successful.
American Crow
Another well-known bird that has successfully adapted to human's use of the land. Considered the most intelligent bird.
Common Raven
A common resident of the area, particularly in the northern part of the scablands. Ravens are interesting to watch for their aerial acrobatics and their conversations can be interesting, too!

Black-capped Chickadee
A common resident of timbered and brushy areas that is particularly noticeable in winter as a bold flocker and visitor to feeding stations. Chickadees nest in tree holes.
Mountain Chickadee
A common resident in the northern timbered areas, and a regular winter visitor in the southern scablands. The vocalizations of this species are usually hoarser than those of the Black-capped Chickadee.

Red-breasted Nuthatch
A common downslope migrant and resident in wooded areas. Often found through its loud nasal yank yank call.
White-breasted Nuthatch
Uncommon in the woods of the north and east, but not hard to find at Turnbull NWR. Males and females can be separated by subtle plumage differences.
Pygmy Nuthatch
A common but irregular resident of the pine woods. The twittering calls of moving flocks are a characteristic sound of the Cheney-Palouse tract of the scablands. These birds are not much longer than your finger.

Brown Creeper
A denizen of the north woods that moves to lower elevations in winter and is uncommonly seen in the scablands. A quiet tree climber, it typically works the trunks of conifers and cottonwoods by ascending spirally from the base.

Rock Wren
Common breeder in selected habitat and uncommon migrant. It comes north early in the spring and makes a home on the sunbaked rocky hillsides of the scablands. Most of the time it does not hold its tail cocked up, and so many give a different appearance from field guide illustrations. Look for the buffy tail tip. Gives a variety of wheezy musical trills.
Canyon Wren
Uncommon resident and downslope migrant, occurring locally on steep rocky slopes. It likes shady talus slopes and is often found near water. Usually discovered through its song, a beautiful series of notes descending the scale. It may be hard to see as it walks around the jumble of rocks it calls home.

JPEG--Rock Wren

Rock Wrens favor rocks and cliffs.  Some individuals winter in the area.
Bewick's Wren
A very local uncommon resident along the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers, near Rock Lake, and in the Tri-Cities area. Apparently expanding its range in the area.
House Wren
A well-known backyard bird and nestbox user, it also is a common breeder in the woods and brush of the scablands. Perhaps more common in the north. These busy birds are often seen raising more than one brood in a season.
Winter Wren
Uncommon migrant moving to and from its montane habitat surrounding the scablands. It looks something like a House Wren, but darker, and with a very short tail. Gives a call note similar to that of a Song Sparrow.
Marsh Wren
Another noisy and active member of the family. It is always found in or near a marsh, and makes its nest in the tall reeds. Some individuals are resident and may be found at any time of the year. Song is a frenetic jumble of trills, whistles, and buzzy notes.

American Dipper
Uncommon winter visitor from the fast flowing mountain streams where it breeds. Usually seen actively bobbing from a rock in the middle of the water.

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Regular migrant through the entire area. Kinglets are so small and so active they may be difficult to observe. They prefer coniferous habitats, but in migration may be seen almost anywhere, and at lower levels. Also present in winter.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Perhaps more common than the Golden-crowned Kinglet in migration; at least more noticeable because of its loud song. The male's "ruby" crown is often not seen, but when raised in threat or alarm can be startlingly brilliant. Generally absent in winter.
Western Bluebird
A beloved summer resident of the area that seems to be doing better than in past years, perhaps in response to nestbox programs. This is the bluebird with the red breast. It likes to nest at the edge of light pine woodlands. Females and immature birds are much duller, with some bright blue in the wings and tail.
Mountain Bluebird
Regular migrant and local breeder in the northern scablands. Most individuals breed in open areas at higher elevations. One of the early harbingers of spring. It is often seen hovering over potential insect prey.
Townsend's Solitaire
Uncommon migrant and occasional breeder in the canyons of the far north scablands. A nondescript arboreal thrush that flashes buffy wing patches when taking flight. Generally a shy bird, but coming upon a warbling flock in early spring is a surprising and delightful experience.
Uncommon migrant and local breeder in shady damp areas of far north scablands. Like many thrushes, furtive and hard to observe well. Song is a beautiful series of quickly descending notes.
Swainson's Thrush
Uncommon spring migrant and uncommon breeder in northern and eastern brushy areas. It appears this species generally makes an overflight of the area in migration, as fewer individuals are seen compared to the other thrushes. Song is a series of ascending notes.
Hermit Thrush
Uncommon spring and fall migrant on its way to and from its high mountain home. Distinguished from similar appearing thrushes by its reddish tail and habit of slowly raising and lowering it. Occasionally sings its famous song in migration, but usually silent when seen in the scablands.
American Robin
Despite its fame, primarily a migrant bird through most of the nonwooded scabland area. However, it is a common breeder around farms and in towns. Some individuals remain in the warmer river valleys through the winter.
Varied Thrush
Uncommon migrant and winter visitor. Usually quiet and easily missed as it perches on a horizontal branch. It is particularly fond of berries and fruit. Known as the Alaska Robin, or Mountain Robin.

Gray Catbird
Uncommon summer resident of dense riparian vegetation; perhaps less common than formerly. One of the latest migrants to arrive in spring. A fairly good mimic, but its presence is most often betrayed by the meow note.
Northern Mockingbird
A vagrant in this area, it is common far to the south and east. Most records are from late winter, but there is a recent breeding record from the Moses Lake area.
Sage Thrasher
A characteristic summer resident of the big sage areas of the scablands, where it reaches the northern limits of its North American range. Uncommon to fairly common, but very noticeable when it is singing from the top of a sage bush in spring.

American Pipit
Common migrant through the area, often seen in open fields. The size of a sparrow, but easily distinguished by its constant tail bobbing. On return from the northern tundra or the alpine habitat where it breeds it passes through the scablands in September through October.

Bohemian Waxwing
A highly gregarious wintering species that occurs irregularly according to food supplies. It is attracted to berries, particularly mountain ash, and it is common for a large flock to clean out a good tree in a day or two. Larger than the Cedar Waxwing, and has blotches of white and yellow on the wings. Unsuspecting people who see this bird just outside their window may be surprised by the beauty of this crested bird!
Cedar Waxwing
A common summer resident of the scablands, particularly around the pothole lakes. It engages in flycatching as well as berry and fruit eating. The call is high-pitched, thin zeee.

Northern Shrike
Fairly common winter visitor, often seen perched on utility wires in open areas. The earliest individuals to come down from the north in October are often immature birds, which are browner and more heavily barred than the adults. It captures rodents and small birds as well as insects, commonly using a hovering technique.
Loggerhead Shrike
Uncommon breeder in the arid sagebrush areas of the scablands. Slightly smaller and darker gray than the Northern Shrike. The more complete dark mask also gives this bird a different look than the preceding species. Typically perches fairly low on a bush. Shrikes gained the moniker "butcherbirds" from their habit of impaling prey on thorns and barbed wire.

European Starling
Highly successful invader form Europe, Sternus vulgaris is used to people and their structures, and also very good at competing with native birds for nest holes. It also nests on basalt cliffs. Regrettably numerous on farms and ranches.

Solitary Vireo
Uncommon migrant and local summer resident in the more densely wooded sections. Two-note song is distinctive.
Warbling Vireo
The most commonly encountered vireo in the scablands, it is perhaps most commonly seen in migration, but breeds in stands of deciduous trees. Although it sings throughout the day, it is very drab and may be hard to locate as it moves slowly among the shimmering aspen or alder leaves.
Red-eyed Vireo
Very uncommon local breeder in fairly dense waterside vegetation. Favors tall deciduous trees.

Tennessee Warbler
Rare post-breeding straggler from breeding area in British Columbia. Records from Davenport cemetery, west Spokane, and Moses Lake.
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common migrant and summer resident. It likes dry brushy hillsides and forages low in the brush. One of the most common warblers; its weak descending trill is often heard in the right habitat. However, numbers of this and other warbler species seem to be dropping recently, perhaps due to problems they encounter as neotropic migrants.
Nashville Warbler
Fairly common migrant and breeder in brush and open timber at the edges of the scablands. May arrive in early April.
Yellow Warbler
Common summer resident of lowland deciduous vegetation. Its sweet song is constantly heard in appropriate habitat.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
The earliest migrant warbler and a common one. Some individuals may winter in the warmest river valleys, such as in the Tri-Cities. A few birds of the "Myrtle's" subspecies, with a white rather than yellow throat, are occasionally seen.
Townsend's Warbler
Common spring and fall migrant; less common in fall. In its montane breeding habitat, the Townsend's is usually high in a tall conifer, but while passing through the scablands may be seen at lower levels.
American Redstart
Rare migrant. An uncommon breeder north of Spokane.
Northern Waterthrush
Uncommon breeder north of the scablands. Very discreet during passage outside of breeding grounds. Noted in Spokane, Davenport and Turnbull NWR in late summer.
MacGillivray's Warbler
Fairly common migrant and summer resident of dense brush over moist ground. Usually seen near or on the ground.
Common Yellowthroat
Common summer resident of specialized marsh habitat, where it inhabits the tall reeds and thick brush. Three-part witch-i-ty song is distinctive.
Wilson's Warbler
One of the most common migrant warblers. Another northern woods breeder.
Yellow-breasted Chat
Uncommon over most of its range in the scablands, but locally common in selected habitat. A summer resident that is always found in dense brush, usually near streams. It reaches the northern limits of its range here, and when the riparian vegetation is allowed to grow unchecked in the hot and dry gullies this bird responds. Gives a variety of loud calls and whistles.

JPEG--Yellow Breasted Chat

The Yellow Breasted Chat is a summer resident of dry canyons near water.
There are several eastern warblers which occur rarely in the area as vagrants. These include:
Palm Warbler
In a given winter, one or more may be found on the coasts of Washington and Oregon. Records from the Dishman Hills, west Spokane, and Davenport.
Blackpoll Warbler
Two fall records from Davenport, and one spring record from Spokane.
Black-and-white Warbler
A handful of records scattered over the years.
Few records, recent ones at Palouse Falls State Park and Davenport.
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Dodson Rd 1983 and Desert WRA 1985.

Western Tanager
Fairly common migrant and breeder in the coniferous timbered areas of the northern and eastern scablands. Despite its bright colors, may be hard to see as it quietly forages in the tree tops. Song sounds like a hoarse Robin.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Very rare vagrant from east of the Rockies. A recent summer record from Turnbull NWR, and two records from Spokane.
Black-headed Grosbeak
Fairly common migrant and breeder in mixed woods at edges of the scablands. Arrives in May. Often detected by its song, which sounds like a frenetic Robin.
Lazuli Bunting
Common migrant and breeder that favors dry bushy draws. More numerous in the southern areas of the scablands. The males are often seen singing from the tops of bushes, while the drab females are easily missed.
Indigo Bunting
One recent fall record from the Hangman Valley in Spokane.

Rufous-sided Towhee
Common resident of brushy areas, although winter retreat to lower elevations is common. A scratcher in leaf litter under the brush, but like other sparrows quite approachable. Juveniles are mottled brown.
American Tree Sparrow
Uncommon winter resident. May be found near isolated bushes in open areas. The chestnut wing patches may be the first signal that this is not a more familiar sparrow.
Chipping Sparrow
Common resident and migrant through the scablands. A characteristic bird of the "edge" habitats in moderately timbered areas.
Clay-colored Sparrow
May wander into the scablands. A pair was recently found breeding in the Spokane Valley, and it has been seen in west Spokane. Also, an adult and immature were found near Rocklyn in July.
Brewer's Sparrow
Common summer resident of the sagebrush areas. Easily identified by its remarkable loud song, a long yet regular series of different vocalizations.
Vesper Sparrow
Common summer resident, arriving in late March. This is the common sparrow of the bunch grass plant communities. Its white tail feathers allow identification from a distance.
Lark Sparrow
Uncommon summer resident of the desert and pastures with open ponderosa pine stands. A handsome bird with a buzz in its song. Found near Moses Lake, in northern Lincoln and Douglas Counties, and western Spokane County. Also the most common songbird in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness.
Black-throated Sparrow
Rare but regular postbreeding wanderer from the Oregon desert. Apparently comes north in mid-summer, when it is found at the western and southern edges of the scablands along the Columbia River. Found in numbers recently on the north side of the Columbia across the river from the Hanford Reservation.
Sage Sparrow
An aptly named uncommon species of the big sage country. Arrives in mid-March in Moses Coulee, Grand Coulee, and the desert southwest of Moses Lake. A master of evasion.
Savannah Sparrow
Common migrant and summer resident of grasslands. Often seen in irrigated agricultural areas.
Grasshopper Sparrow
Fairly common summer resident in grasslands and CRP fields. Has a flat forehead and a short tail. Song is a dry thin insect-like trill, without the final musical note of the Savannah Sparrow.
Fox Sparrow
Uncommon migrant in riparian brush. Breeds in higher elevation mountainous terrain.
Song Sparrow
Common well-known resident of stream-side brush. Although a hardy species, numbers drop off in winter due to withdrawal.
Lincoln's Sparrow
Fairly common migrant through April and September. Similar to the Song Sparrow, but look for the buffy wash across the breast and the buff cheek mark. This is a furtive species that breeds in the mountains.

Swamp Sparrow
Rare winter visitor to marsh habitats throughout the area. Records from Park Lake, the Spokane River, and McNary NWR. Probably more numerous than formerly thought because it is so secretive and quiet in winter.

JPEG--Lincoln's Sparrow

In August the Lincoln's Sparrow can be found during its migration.
White-throated Sparrow
Very uncommon migrant, particularly in fall. Seen in brushy areas often near water. Both the tan-striped and the white-striped forms have occurred. In life it is more distinctive from the White-crowned Sparrow than on the printed page because of a more hunched, horizontal posture.
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Uncommon migrant, but more common in spring. Similar to the White-crowned Sparrow, but passes through a little later in May. Fall birds appear in early September with the White-crowned Sparrows.
White-crowned Sparrow
Common to very common spring and fall migrant; occasionally winters in the warmer canyons. Sings its wheezy song while passing through. In fall most of the individuals are immatures, with brown and gray head stripes.
Harris' Sparrow
Occasional fall migrant and winter visitor. Apparently individuals stray from the main migration route through Central Plains. When seen in our area is apt to have reduced black areas on the forehead and breast. A large sparrow.
Dark-eyed Junco
Very common migrant and winter visitor; common breeder in the northern wooded scablands. In winter hybrids of the "slate-colored" form are also seen. Though breeding birds seem to have an affinity for trees, they nest on the ground like other sparrows.
Lapland Longspur
Uncommon migrant and winter visitor. A few visitor. A few individuals are seen annually among the flocks of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings in the farm country. Spring males may be in breeding plumage.
Snow Bunting
Uncommon in winter over most of the scablands, but locally common on the high windswept fields of Lincoln and Douglas Counties. Encountered along gravel roads in small groups, or in flocks containing hundreds of birds. The large white wing patches make identification from inside a passing vehicle possible.

GIF--Passerines in flight
Dark overall.  Furtive.  Note white in tail.  Usually single in winter.   Light brown above, whitish underneath.  Square black tail (outer white feather not noticeable).  Jerky low flight (usually in flocks).   Appears very white.  Black wing tips.  Forked tail.  May form large flocks in early winter but usually in small flocks.   Appears all dark, unless well lit.  Usually in small flocks, but when in large flocks, they progress in a roll over or leap frog fashion.

GIF--Lincoln, Grasshopper, and Sage Sparrows

Distinct Combination of grey, tan and brown. Finely streaked on chest and sides. Brown crown with grey central stripe. Brown cheek patch with eye line and black point. Very noticeable tan malar stripe. Migrant only. Rarely sings then.   Flat profile. Brown crown with whitish central stripe. Plain breast adult. No malar stripe. Prominent eye in face faintly patterned. Barely audible tik-buzz song.   Furtive, difficult to observe. Brown back, grey head. Prominent eye ring. White puffs above eye. White malar stripe. Bordered in black. Clear, simple song.
GIF--Vesper, Savannah, and Brewer's Sparrows
Distinct eye ring. Streaked crown, no central stripe. Whitish chin. Pale malar stripe. Ringing song.   Faint eye ring. Yellow lore and eyebrow (not always). Brown crown with pale median. Bolder streaking than vesper. Weak buzz song.   Finely streaked crown. Faint eye ring. No streak on chest in adults. Complex, loud song.

One spring record from south of Sprague.
Red-winged Blackbird
Common to abundant resident of marshy areas and other places with dense vegetation. Forages on the ground in nearby open fields. In winter forms large flocks that visit feedlots, landfills, grain elevators, etc. in southern part of area. Males set up on territory in cattails in February.
Western Meadowlark
Common summer resident and partial migrant through area. Some winter in southern scablands. A characteristic bird of the grassy scablands, whose music should be known and appreciated by all. The nest is rarely found, though placed on the ground.
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Locally common summer resident and migrant. May winter in the lower basin. The habits of this bird are similar to the Red-winged Blackbird, as it is also highly gregarious and a communal nester, but it is even more restricted to marsh habitats. One wonders how attractive the loud, raucous cry of the male is to a female about to choose a mate!
Rusty Blackbird
Rare fall migrant. Usually found near water. Breed in the far north. Brewer's Blackbirds in postbreeding plumage are often mistaken for Rusty Blackbirds, but in the fall Rusty Blackbirds are usually quite "rusty" looking.
Brewer's Blackbird
Very common resident, retreating to warmer, more southerly areas in winter. Numbers have probably increased in response to agriculture, as it needs just a little brush for nesting. Not quite as gregarious as some of the other blackbirds while breeding, but joins the postbreeding mixed blackbird flocks that may number in the thousands.
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common summer resident and migrant through the scablands, often in the presence of cattle and horses. Cowbirds are increasingly seen as a serious threat to other nesting species because they are a brood parasite. The cowbird nestling is usually larger and stronger than the true offspring also in the nest. The bubbling liquid song is a good identifier.
Bullock's Oriole
Common summer resident. In March 1995 the Bullock's and Baltimore Orioles were restored as separate species. Arrives in May, building a strongly woven bulbous nest in a deciduous tree. Often found near farmsteads in the scablands. First-spring males have pale bellies and lack the large white wing patch.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Uncommon downslope migrant and winter visitor. An approachable species that usually gathers in small flocks for the winter. Sometimes it is seen in large flocks, and one numbering in the thousands was encountered several years ago near Hartline. Often found around human settlements and a visitor to feeding trays. They use the gaps under eaves for winter roosts. Otherwise they are found near cliffs with holes that provide their roosts. Rosy Finches have recently been resplit into three species.
Pine Grosbeak
Occasional winter visitor from the northern woods, sometimes in small groups. Most individuals seen are females and immatures. Occurs irregularly, mostly along the northern fringe of the scablands.
Purple Finch
Uncommon fall visitor to the western edges of the scablands; occasional winter visitor in the south. A common breeder on the east slope of the Cascades, but not in the Okanogan Highlands.
Cassin's Finch
Fairly common migrant and local breeder in the coniferous areas of the scablands. Similar to the previous species, but not restricted to the western mountains. Like other finches, nomadic and irregular. Many males are not as bright as illustrated; look for the brighter red in the forehead.
House Finch
Common resident of the entire area, including residential areas. One of the most common visitors to birdfeeders. In the fall forms flocks which can be quite large and which may appear almost anywhere. Usually close to human settlements.
Red Crossbill
Common irregular resident and visitor. Flocks search far and wide in areas with coniferous forest for good cone crops. Although it may be abundant in an area one year, if the cone crop is poor over the entire region the next, this species may not be present. Often seen hanging upside down on cones, using their unique bills to extract the seeds.
White-winged Crossbill
Very rare winter visitor to the north edge of the area. Northern cousin of the Red Crossbill, irregularly common in the high mountains of the Northwest.
Common Redpoll
Uncommon winter visitor. Like other members of the group, an irregular wanderer. Usually found in canyons and other areas with alders and birch, whose catkins provide a favorite food.
Pine Siskin
Common migrant and summer resident in woodlands, some years irregular. Although it looks like a small-billed sparrow, there is usually a trace of yellow in the plumage. Forms flocks that can be identified by the upslurred zzzheet call.
American Goldfinch
Common resident and wanderer through the scablands. With retreat in winter, much fewer numbers in the north. Although individuals may arrive on the breeding grounds much earlier, they usually don't get down to the business of nesting until June or July. The state bird.
Evening Grosbeak
Uncommon migrant over most of the area; breeds irregularly on northern fringe of scablands. Occasionally flocks of this striking species invade a town, causing a mild stir. They love sunflower seeds.

House Sparrow
As in the rest of the country, a very common resident in towns and on farmyards. Generally absent away from human settlements.

Return to Bird Checklist of the Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 18:38:01 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]