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Bird Checklists of the United States

Washington Spokane District
Birds of the Yakima River Canyon

Wenatchee, Washington

The Yakima River canyon is one of Washington states most scenic areas, through which the Yakima River winds amidst basalt cliffs from just south of Ellensburg to Selah, Washington.

The birdlife of the canyon consists of a diverse array of species, some ranging widely through the area, others localized in their distribution to certain habitats.

The area is perhaps best known for its nesting birds of prey. No fewer than 21 species of raptors, as birds of prey are known, have been recorded in the Yakima Canyon. Ten of these raptor species are known to breed locally. Spring brings the courtship cries of Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons and American Kestrels about their nesting cliffs as they commence breeding. August and September bring migrating Sharp-shinned and Copper's Hawks from the north, as well as an influx of other species. Winter brings the magnificent and endangered Bald Eagle to patrol the river banks for spawned chinook salmon, a fishery hopefully being augmented as a result of intense fish enhancement projects.

The riparian habitats along the Yakima River and feeder streams are host to many songbirds dependent on this habitat. The river itself is important for birds which prey on fish, such as Common Mergansers, Bald Eagles, and Belted Kingfishers.

No less important is the surrounding shrub-steppe, a vanishing habitat which is home to some species that are becoming rare in the state such as Sage Thrasher, Long-billed Curlew, and Sage Sparrow.

Loons, grebes, and many species of waterfowl and shorebirds occur in greater numbers and diversity in southcentral Washington than this guide implies. Because of the limited still water habitat in the canyon, many individuals of these groups simply overfly the Yakima Canyon during their spring and fall migrations.

Explanation of Symbols:


ABUNDANCE Click on family names highlighted for additional information!

LOONS SP S F W ___Common Loon R - U R
GREBES SP S F W ___*Pied-billed Grebe U U U - ___Horned Grebe R - U R ___Red-necked Grebe - R R - ___Eared Grebe - O O - ___Western Grebe R - U -
CORMORANTS SP S F W ___Double-crested Cormorant - R R -
HERONS SP S F W ___American Bittern O O O - ___*Great Blue Heron C C U U ___Great Egret X - - - ___Green-backed Heron X - - - ___Black-crowned Night Heron R R R -
WATERFOWL SP S F W ___Tundra Swan U - - - ___*Canada Goose A U C O ___*Wood Duck U U U - ___Green-winged Teal U - O - ___*Mallard C U C O ___Northern Pintail C - U R ___*Blue-winged Teal O O R - ___*Cinnamon Teal U U R - ___Northern Shoveler C O C R ___Gadwall U O U R ___American Wigeon C O C R ___Canvasback U - U R ___Redhead U O U R ___Ring-necked Duck C O U U ___Greater Scaup R - R - ___Lesser Scaup U - U R ___Oldsquaw - - - X ___Surf Scoter - - R - ___White-winged Scoter - - R - ___Common Goldeneye C - U C ___Barrow's Goldeneye ? ? ? R ___Bufflehead U - U R ___Hooded Merganser - - U - ___*Common Merganser C C C U ___Ruddy Duck U U U -
VULTURES SP S F W ___*Turkey Vulture U U U -
OSPREY, EAGLES, HAWKS SP S F W ___Osprey U O U - ___Bald Eagle C - U C ___*Northern Harrier C U C U ___Sharp-shinned Hawk C - C U ___Cooper's Hawk U R U U ___Northern Goshawk R - R R ___*Swainson's Hawk U U R - ___*Red-tailed Hawk C C C U ___*Ferruginous Hawk R R - - ___Rough-legged Hawk U - U U ___*Golden Eagle C C C U
FALCONS SP S F W ___*American Kestrel C C U R ___Merlin R - R R ___Peregrine Falcon ? ? ? - ___*Prairie Falcon C C U U
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS SP S F W ___*Gray Partridge O O O O ___*Chukar C C C C ___*Ring-necked Pheasant U U U U ___*?Ruffed Grouse O O O O ___*Sage Grouse U R U R ___*Wild Turkey U U U U ___*California Quail C C C C
RAILS SP S F W ___*Virginia Rail U U O R ___*Sora U U O - ___*American Coot U U U O
CRANES SP S F W ___Sandhill Crane I - I -
SHOREBIRDS SP S F W ___Semipalmated Plover - - R - ___*Killdeer C C C R ___Greater Yellowlegs U C U - ___Lesser Yellowlegs O U O - ___Solitary Sandpiper - O - - ___*Spotted Sandpiper C C U - ___*Long-billed Curlew U R - - ___Western Sandpiper U C C - ___Least Sandpiper U C C - ___Baird's Sandpiper - U U - ___Pectoral Sandpiper - R U - ___Stilt Sandpiper - O R - ___Long-billed Dowitcher U U U - ___*Common Snipe U U O R ___Wilson's Phalarope R R - - ___Red-necked Phalarope U O U -
GULLS AND TERNS SP S F W ___Bonaparte's Gull R - R - ___Ring-billed Gull C C U R ___California Gull C C C - ___Herring Gull - - - O ___Caspian Tern - U O - ___Common Tern - - O - ___Forster's Tern O O - -
DOVES SP S F W ___*Rock Dove C C C O ___*Mourning Dove C C C R
OWLS SP S F W ___*Barn-Owl U U U - ___*Western Screech-Owl U U U ? ___*Great Horned Owl C C C C ___*Burrowing Owl U U U - ___*Short-eared Owl I I I I ___*Long-eared Owl O R O U ___*Northern Saw-whet Owl U R U R
GOATSUCKERS SP S F W ___*Common Nighthawk C R - - ___*Common Poorwill R U R -
SWIFTS SP S F W ___Vaux's Swift R - R - ___*White-throated Swift C C R -
HUMMINGBIRDS SP S F W ___*?Black-chinned Hummingbird O O - - ___*Calliope Hummingbird U U - - ___Rufous Hummingbird R U - -
KINGFISHERS SP S F W ___*Belted Kingfisher U U U R
WOODPECKERS SP S F W ___*Lewis' Woodpecker U U U R ___*Downy Woodpecker U U U U ___Hairy Woodpecker - - I O ___White-headed Woodpecker - - - R ___*Northern Flicker C C C U
FLYCATCHERS SP S F W ___Olive-sided Flycatcher U - - - ___Western Wood-Pewee C C U - ___Hammond's Flycatcher U - U - ___Willow Flycatcher U U ? - ___Dusky Flycatcher U O - - ___*Pacific-slope Flycatcher U U O - ___*Say's Phoebe C U O - ___*Ash-throated Flycatcher R R - - ___*Western Kingbird C C U - ___*Eastern Kingbird C C R -
LARKS SP S F W ___*Horned Lark C C C U
SWALLOWS SP S F W ___*Tree Swallow U U U - ___*Violet-green Swallow C C R - ___*N. Rough-winged Swallow C C O - ___*Bank Swallow U U - - ___*Cliff Swallow C C - - ___*Barn Swallow C C U -
CORVIDS SP S F W ___Stellar's Jay - - R O ___Clark's Nutcracker - - I I ___*Black-billed Magpie C C C C ___American Crow - - U - ___*Common Raven C C C C
CHICKADEES AND BUSHTITS SP S F W ___*Black-capped Chickadee C C C C ___Mountain Chickadee - - - I ___Chestnut-backed Chickadee - - I - ___Bushtit R R R R
NUTHATCHES AND CREEPERS SP S F W ___*Red-breasted Nuthatch C C C C ___White-breasted Nuthatch - I I - ___Brown Creeper - U - U
WRENS SP S F W ___*Rock Wren C C U R ___*Canyon Wren U U U U ___*House Wren C C U - ___Winter Wren U - U R ___*Marsh Wren U U O R
DIPPERS SP S F W ___American Dipper - - - U
KINGLETS AND THRUSHES SP S F W ___Golden-crowned Kinglet C - C U ___Ruby-crowned Kinglet C - U R ___*Western Bluebird C C U - ___*Mountain Bluebird C C U - ___*Townsend's Solitaire U - U I ___*?Veery O O - - ___*?Swainson's Thrush U U - - ___Hermit Thrush C - C - ___*American Robin C C C U ___Varied Thrush U - U I
THRASHERS SP S F W ___*Gray Catbird U U - - ___*Sage Thrasher C C U -
PIPITS SP S F W ___Water Pipit C - C -
WAXWINGS SP S F W ___Bohemian Waxwing - - - I ___*Cedar Waxwing C C U R
SHRIKES SP S F W ___Northern Shrike R - U C ___*Loggerhead Shrike U U U R
STARLINGS SP S F W ___*European Starling C C C C
VIREOS SP S F W ___Solitary Vireo U - U - ___Red-eyed Vireo R R - - ___*Warbling Vireo C C U -
WARBLERS SP S F W ___*Orange-crowned Warbler C C U - ___*Nashville Warbler C U U - ___*Yellow Warbler C C U - ___Yellow-rumped Warbler C - C - ___Townsend's Warbler - U - - ___*MacGillivray's Warbler - C U O ___*Common Yellowthroat U U O - ___Wilson's Warbler C - U - ___*Yellow-breasted chat U U - -
TANAGERS SP S F W ___Western Tanager C U O -
GROSBEAKS & BUNTINGS SP S F W ___*Black-headed Grosbeak C C R - ___*Lazuli Bunting C C R -
TOWHEES & SPARROWS SP S F W ___*Rufous-sided Towhee C C C O ___American Tree Sparrow - - - R ___Chipping Sparrow U U U - ___*Brewer's Sparrow C C O - ___*Vesper Sparrow C C O - ___*Lark Sparrow U U O - ___*Sage Sparrow U U O - ___*Savannah Sparrow C U C - ___Fox Sparrow O O O - ___*Song Sparrow C C C U ___Lincoln's Sparrow U - U - ___Golden-crowned Sparrow C - U R ___White-crowned Sparrow A - C U ___Harris' Sparrow - - - R ___*Dark-eyed Junco C - C U
BLACKBIRDS & ORIOLES SP S F W ___*Red-winged Blackbird A A C O ___*Western Meadowlark A C C O ___*Yellow-headed Blackbird U U O - ___*Brewer's Blackbird A A C O ___*Brown-headed Cowbird C C O - ___*Northern Oriole C C - -
FINCHES SP S F W ___Rosy Finch O - O O ___Pine Grosbeak - - I I ___Purple Finch - - I - ___Cassin's Finch O O U - ___*House Finch C C C C ___Red Crossbill I I U R ___White-winged Crossbill - - X X ___Common Redpoll - - I I ___Pine Siskin U O U R ___*American Goldfinch C C C U ___Evening Grosbeak U - U O
WEAVER FINCHES SP S F W ___*House Sparrow C C C C

This checklist was developed by Andrew Stepniewski as a volunteer project with the Bureau of Land Management. If you are interested in helping develop similar interpretive guides or are interested in general volunteer opportunities with the BLM, we would like to hear from you. We can be reached at: Bureau of Land Management, Wenatchee Resource Area Office at 1133 N. Western Avenue, Wenatchee, Washington 98801, (509) 662-4223.
This resource is based on the following source:
Stepniewski, Andrew.  Washington, Spokane District, Birds of the Yakima River 
     Canyon.  No date.  United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of 
     Land Management.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
Stepniewski, Andrew.  Washington, Spokane District, Birds of the Yakima River 
     Canyon.  No date.  United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of 
     Land Management.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife 
     Research Center Online.
     (Version 10JUL2001)

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