Oregon and Washington: Spring 2022

Spring 2022: 1 Mar–31 May

Eric Heisey

Adrian Hinkle

Christopher Hinkle

Recommended citation:

Heisey, E., Hinkle, A., Hinkle, C. 2022. Spring 2022: Oregon-Washington. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gEV> North American Birds.

Many migrants arrived a bit earlier than normal, despite a rainy and at times cool spring. The biggest highlights were state-firsts of Common Crane and Cave Swallow in Oregon. Unusual numbers of coastal shorebirds found inland provided mid-spring excitement in the Willamette Valley. By the end of the season, an expected handful of vagrants showed up on the Eastside.

Sub-Regional Compilers

Tim Rodenkirk (Coos and Curry Cos, Oregon).



Two late adult Emperor Geese were found after an excellent fall and winter showing. One was in Merlin, Jackson Co 8–12 May (Lance Pozolski) and one was at Wireless Road, Clatsop Co 17–20 May. There are a handful of late May and even summer records for the Pacific Northwest, but the Jackson Co bird marks a new southernmost May record. California’s latest sighting is 22 April. At least five Black Brant were found between Finley N.W.R. and Sauvie Island between early March and 16 May, with a sixth in Ridgefield, Clark Co. Trumpeter Swans lingered in the Willamette Valley into May for the second straight year. One unbanded individual was in Arlie, Polk Co until 20 Apr. At Finley N.W.R., two adults with neck bands, up to two unmarked adults, and two juveniles lingered 3 Apr to 3 May. Washington’s second Whooper Swan lingered around Monroe, Snohomish Co until 16 Mar. A stunning male American Wigeon x Green-winged Teal hybrid was photographed at John Wayne Marina, Clallam Co 25 Mar–2 Apr (Bob Boekelheide & Gary Bullock). There are few reports of this rare hybrid, with Washington furnishing most of the sightings. A Tufted Duck at Broughton Beach, Multnomah Co 2 Apr was likely one of the two males (one with long-tufted, one short) seen off Wintler Park, Clark Co 30 Mar to 5 Apr (Jim Danzenbaker).

A White-winged Dove at Wireless Road, Clatsop Co 18 May (ph., Eric Konkol) was the only sighting of the spring. Many Band-tailed Pigeons were reported in six eastern Washington counties with a high count of 20 in Klickitat, marking a continuation of their expansion. Black Swifts peaked with over 500 observed over New River, Coos Co 17–21 May (Tim Rodenkirk). Numbers peaked at 297 on 20 May. A Common Poorwill in Newhalem, Whatcom Co 21 May (Lin Stern) was a rare sighting for the westside, one of only a couple spring western Washington sightings in the last decade. Three Common Poorwills were reported outside of Moxee, Yakima Co on 29 Mar (Debie Brown), rather exceptional given that they are less than annual in March in both Washington and Oregon—though likely overlooked when they first arrive in underbirded parts of the state. One westside Black-chinned Hummingbird, a male, was in Salem 10 May (Dave Budeau). A dapper male Costa’s Hummingbird, Washington’s 15th, returned to the same neighborhood in Ellensburg, Kittitas Co 4–26 May (Walter Szeliga) where it first appeared in summer 2021. Oregon’s first Common Crane was at Burns Foley Road, Harney Co 20–23 Apr (Lynn Fox).

Much less common in spring than in fall, an American Golden-Plover staged for a week around Dungeness, Clallam Co 1–9 May (Bob Boekelheide, Michael Barry). Grant Co’s first Snowy Plover was found at Gloyd Seeps Wetland, on 29 May (Matt Yawney), only a day after an individual was reported at Casey Pond in Walla Walla Co, 27–28 May (Liam Hutcheson).

Bar-tailed Godwit has become regular on the south coast of Washington, with two at Bottle Beach, Grays Harbor Co 10–17 May (Anonymous). However, they remain exceptional away from this region, and one in Blaine, Whatcom Co 11 May (Phil Wegener) was less expected.

It was an excellent spring for Hudsonian Godwit in the Pacific Northwest, with five sightings between British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Both of Washington’s sightings were from the eastside, with one at Gloyd Seeps Wetland, Grant Co 13–14 May (Marilyn Hedges), and another at McNary NWR (Two Rivers Unit), Walla Walla Co 21 May (Mike & MerryLynn Denny).

Stilt Sandpiper can sometimes be found in flocks in the fall, but are very rare in spring. One at Sunnyside WMA in Yakima Co 20 May (Eric Heisey) was one of a handful of spring records for the state. In addition to several inland Ruddy Turnstones were at least 9 Red Knots between five inland Oregon locations 2–9 May. A Wandering Tattler was found at the Philomath Sewage Ponds, Benton Co 8 May (Doug Robinson).

A Thick-billed Murre was photographed on a pelagic trip offshore Westport, Grays Harbor Co 23 Apr (Westport Seabirds), the 26th record for the state. A Horned Puffin was spotted offshore Seattle from various locations in King Co 19–21 May (Anonymous). Double digit numbers of inland Sabine’s Gulls were reported across the region, which is well above the recent norm of one or two. Fall is typically far better. In Oregon all sightings were 5–9 May, but Washington had a wider spread of records. One at Fish Lake, Chelan Co 28 May (Richard Carlson) was the most interesting location and date. Central Oregon’s first Little Gull was at Hatfield Lake, Deschutes Co 17 May (Matt Cahill) only to show up at Crook Co’s Crooked River Wetlands a few hours later. It was not seen the next day. A Black-headed Gull loafed around the Federal Way area with many Bonaparte’s Gulls, King Co 2–10 Apr (Raphael Fennimore). Four Forster’s Terns spotted at the Montlake Fill, King Co 28 May+ (Adrian Lee) contribute to only a handful of previous spring westside sightings in Washington.

Yellow-billed Loons were reported from four westside locations, with an exceptional record coming from Potlatch SP in poorly covered Mason Co 15 Mar–2 Apr (Bill Tweit & Whittier Johnson). A couple dozen Short-tailed Shearwaters observed offshore Westport, Grays Harbor Co 27 Mar, 23 & 28 Apr (Westport Seabirds) were the only individuals reported in the region this spring. A quick fly-by Manx Shearwater offshore Westport, Grays Harbor Co 23 Apr (Shep Thorp) was Washington’s only report this spring of this rare and poorly-known suspected breeder. Snowy Egret is surprisingly rare in Washington, and an individual seen at Millet Pond in Walla Walla Co 15–22 May (Shuang Deng) was a less than annual sighting for the eastside.

White-tailed Kite was once a regular breeder in southwestern Washington but is now on the state review list. An individual at Tsoo-Yess Beach, Clallam Co 30 Apr–17 May (Jason Vassallo & Will Brooks) was an excellent record for Clallam Co. Least Flycatchers made a good showing on the westside, with singles in Mason, San Juan and Whatcom Cos. It was a banner year for Gray Flycatcher on the westside in both Oregon and Washington, with 15 individuals reported from seven westside counties highlighted by Clallam Co’s first record at Hobuck Beach, 16 May (Brad, Kevin & Dan Waggoner). A Dusky Flycatcher in Neah Bay,  Clallam Co 15 May (Brad, Kevin & Dan Waggoner) was only the second coastal record for WA. A stunning male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Multnomah Co’s second, was along Marine Drive by Portland International Airport 22 May (Erick Shore).

Adding to a spate of recent eastside sightings was a Hutton’s Vireo east of Chiloquin, Klamath Co 26 Apr (Frank Lospalluto). Loggerhead Shrike is exceptionally rare near the coast, and an individual on Brady Loop, Grays Harbor Co 21 Mar (David & Teri True) joins a handful of records this far west in the state. The region’s first Cave Swallow was well documented at Philomath Sewage Ponds, Benton Co 13 Mar (Nolan Clements). Blue-gray Gnatcatchers appear to be breeding in Wahkiacus, Skamania Co 24 May+ (Samual Holman) for the third straight year; this is one of the few locales they have ever consistently bred in the state.

Secretive Veery are rarely seen in migration, and an individual coming to a seep at Snively Canyon in Benton Co 22 May (Nancy & Bill LaFramboise) was a lucky find. The highlight of the spring for many Washington birders was surely the state’s third Red-flanked Bluetail visiting a yard in Sheridan Heights, King Co 17–29 Mar (Nancy Morrison). This was the first chaseable individual in the state, as the other two records were on private property in Whatcom Co and a dead individual in San Juan Co.

Two Cassin’s Finches were photographed at a house on Phinney Ridge, King Co 30 Mar–2 Apr (Matt Dufort). They are very rare in Seattle, and this may be the first documented record for the state’s largest city. Common Redpolls lingered in unusual numbers throughout the eastside, with a few also reported in Portland and around Seattle. But the real storyline was lingering White-winged Crossbills. While they’ve attempted breeding in Oregon and can occur any time of year (winter is best), large numbers in the southern Cascades and southern Blue Mountains were unusual. Up to 25 were at Odell Lake, Klamath Co in the end of March, 22 were roughly 20 miles NE of Burns, Harney Co on 14 May, and 37 were at Mud Springs Horse Camp Campground, Crook Co 28 May. Now annual in southwest Oregon, a Lawrence’s Goldfinch was in Roseburg 8 May (Greg Bastian). A Benton Co first Hooded Oriole was in Corvallis 6-8 May (Duncan Evered).

Grasshopper Sparrow was found in three westside counties in Washington this spring, including a first county record for Wahkiakum Co at Skamokawa on 10 May (Jake Bonello). Two Clay-colored Sparrows in late May on the Oregon coast were unusual. A rare westside Black-throated Sparrow was found at Shillapoo Lake, Clark Co 29 May+ (Liam Hutcheson). A Common Grackle was photographed coming to a backyard outside of Burlington, Skagit Co 12 Mar (Faye Whitney).

Eastern passerine vagrant season towards the end of May on the eastside was average. Sightings in Oregon of one Ovenbird, three Black-and-white Warblers, and two American Redstarts were unsurprisingly all from well-covered Harney Co during the last 10 days of May. One Tennessee Warbler was in Union Co. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were reported from three scattered locations in Oregon, while the Harney Co highlight of the spring was an immature male Blue Grosbeak at the Field Station 8–16 May (Sevilla Rhoads).  The Dickcissel found in December on the Sequim CBC continued to 8 Mar in Jamestown, Clallam Co.

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 08 Jan 2023.

Photos–Oregon and Washington: Spring 2022

A stunning male Green-winged Teal x American Wigeon hybrid was photographed this spring near Sequim, Clallam Co 25 Mar 2022. There are few reports of this rare hybrid, with Washington furnishing most of the sightings. Photo © Bob Boekelheide.

Unlike some long-staying Common Cranes that have shown up recently in the Western U.S., Oregon’s first only stayed for a few days outside Burns, Harney Co. It was photographed here on 22 April 2022. Photo © Owen Schmidt.

Gray Flycatchers were found in higher numbers than usual on the westside of the region, this one photographed in Neah Bay, Clallam Co Washington 16 May 2022 represented a first for Clallam Co. Photo © Brad Waggoner.

Oregon’s first Cave Swallow was a half-day wonder at Philomath Sewage Ponds, Benton Co 13 March 2022. Photo © Nolan Clements.

Washington’s third Red-flanked Bluetail graced a Seattle neighborhood in March, marking the first chaseable record of this species in the state. The other two records were on private property in Whatcom Co and a dead individual in San Juan Co. Photo from Seattle, King Co 20 Mar 2022. Photo © Ruben Stoll.