Audubon Washington Chapters and Centers Map

Washington Audubon provides an interactive map that links to other Audubon chapters where often regional birding maps and sightings information are provided. (Map Link)



The Great Washington State Birding Trail Maps

birdmap-collage-128-AFind the best places for bird watching in the Evergreen State on The Great Washington State Birding Trail maps, created by Audubon Washingto
n.Each of the Birding Trail Maps provides detailed information and directions to numerous birding sites and natural areas in a region of the state. Like the birding trails in other states, the Great Washington State Birding Trail is a series of driving loops, each with many stops. Each stop is a special place to view birds and other wildlife or the start of a walking trail along which birds may be seen.

Black Hills Audubon Society is proud to help sponsor The Great Washington State Birding Trail and its maps.

See location of each maps –

the Cascade Loop,
the Olympic Loop,
the Southwest Loop, (see more details below)
the Coulee Corridor
the Sun and Sage Loop
the Palouse to Pines Loop
the The Puget Loop

These maps are now available for purchase, with the proceeds going toward reprinting of the popular publications and promoting the trail overall. The retail cost? Just $4.95 for each map (plus tax and shipping).

The full-color maps feature original artwork of birds along the routes, plus descriptions of habitat, access, and when to go.

For example, the Trail Map for the Southwest Loop provides information on 54 birding sites in the region from Olympia south to the Columbia River and west to the Pacific Ocean. It takes travelers from the wetlands of south Puget Sound out to breaker-washed coastlines of the Pacific Ocean and then retraces some of the 1805 Lewis and Clark journey along the Columbia River.

There are stops at sheltered bays that are the winter havens of waterfowl, costal spots to see hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds, and inland lakes, streams, and prairies for spring and summer birding. Special thanks to Kristin Stewart and Bob Morse from Black Hills Audubon for helping develop the Southwest Loop Trail Map.

To order maps, please see the Audubon Washington shopping cart for maps web page.


Grass Lake Refuge

Grass Lake Refuge was acquired by the City of Olympia in 1989 after a heated battle between what is now Friends of Grass Lake and land developers who had already begun to plow their tractors into the area before receiving permission. Through persistence by Friends of Grass Lake, the refuge was acquired for 1.8 million dollars and is now approximately 165 acres of wetlands, coniferous forest, meadows as well as dozens of other microhabitats–both native and non-native. The area is home to over 200 species of plants and 98 species of birds.

(Bird checklist)

Grass Lake is a seasonal wetland which fills up in fall and winter, and almost completely empties during summer. The excess water from the three main bodies of water (Grass Lake East, Grass Lake West and Lake Louise) drain out into the Kaiser wetland and into Green Cove Creek which eventually empties into Puget Sound.


Road Map for Grass Lake (6 Kb)Grass Lake can be reached by taking Mud Bay Rd and turning north onto Kaiser Road. The refuge is directly off Kaiser and is designated only by a gated entrance with a “No unauthorized vehicles” sign and a sign asking to keep all pets on a leash. No bikes, motorbikes vehicles or unleashed pet are allowed in the refuge.


Natural History

Grass Lake Refuge contains a large diversity of plant species, some of which cannot be found in another single area in Thurston Co. Species such as Oregon White Oak, Oregon White Ash, Pacific Ninebark, Rattlesnake Plantain, Pacific Willow, Black Cottonwood, 4 types of Sedges (Carex), Western Trillium, and Fairy Slippers can be found in different areas of the refuge due to the wide variety of habitats. The large number of plant species offer diverse food sources for the birds.

Grass Lake Refuge plays a key role for migrating birds, both for those that only stop for a few hours, as well as those who spend a couple of weeks there before moving on to other areas. Due to the level of water dropping off significantly in summer and early fall, shorebirds and waterfowl can be found on Lake Louise, which is the main lake directly off the Kaiser Entrance. Species such as Common Snipe, Hooded Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Green-winged Teal, and Greater Yellowlegs are commonly seen before the lake fills up in mid to late fall. In the forest, many Spotted Towhees, Winter Wrens, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Kinglet sp., and the occasional Bewick’s Wrens can be found. As the water level increases, numbers of wintering birds move into the lake and the shorebirds, no longer able to feed on the muddy lake bed, begin to leave. Pied-billed Grebes, Bufflehead, and American Coots are among the few to move into the lake first as well as Purple and House Finches in the brambles along the path to the lake.Grass Lake Refuge is an excellent Neotropical birding site, hosting Black-throated Greys, Wilson’s Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Orange-crowned Warblers, Solitary Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Swainson’s Thrushes, Barn Swallows, Violet-green Swallows, Tree Swallows, Western Tanangers and Black-headed Grossbeaks. (by Jim Lynch)

(Grass Lake – City of Olympia Web Site)

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge: A Basic Guide, by Phil Kelly

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is a great place to spend a day, or a couple of hours. I’ve been leading a weekly bird walk at the refuge for 12 years now and here are some of my tips on how to get the most out of your visit.

First off, understand that the refuge is managed differently at different times of the year. During the late Fall and Winter the refuge is managed for wintering waterfowl. That means flooding some of the fields and increasing the water levels in some of the ponds to facilitate waterfowl roosting and foraging. Upwards of 20 species of waterfowl are present on the refuge at this time of the year and flocks of shorebirds (mostly Dunlin) overwinter outside the dike.

Birds of prey also increase on the refuge during this time of the year as food becomes more abundant and visible. Bald Eagles are always present and gather in good numbers in January and February along the Nisqually River to coincide with the salmon runs.

In the Spring and Summer, the refuge is managed for migrating passerines or songbirds. Water levels drop and grasses are allowed to grow up to shoulder height. Warblers, sparrows and thrushes are the stars of the show then. Look for males singing on territory April through early May in the riparian areas of the refuge. The twin barns loop is a good place to start for passerines.

April and May are a good time to search outside the dike for migrating shorebirds where up to a dozen species may be seen.

There are several ways to enjoy the refuge. I would start at the visitor center observation deck and check out the area there. There are usually a few waterfowl on the pond and the big fir tree behind the pond is often used as a roost by a raptor of some sort.

If time is short, walk the mile-long main boardwalk (the “twin barns loop”), which is wheelchair accessible. Check out the large pond, and a branch to the east accesses a riparian area. From late January through early March, a pair of Great Horned Owls with babies might be visible—look for the crowd of observers to find them. A side-trip to the twin barns observation deck gives a great view of the entire refuge—never know what you might see from there. If time permits, visit the orchard near the education center. It often holds a nice variety of woodpeckers, thrushes and sparrows.

From the main boardwalk, you can access the dike trail, a gravel path leading westward to the estuary boardwalk. Going out to the estuary boardwalk and back makes the total walk about 2.5 miles and gives you good looks at the tidally influenced reclamation area and interior freshwater marsh. Again, what you see depends on the time of year and the tide. An incoming tide is best as it pushes the birds closer to the trail.

If you have the time, add the mile-long estuary boardwalk, which follows McAllister Creek out toward Luhr Beach and has good views of the Sound. This increases your total distance to 4-5 miles or so. You can add a lot of species to your list that you won’t see in the interior of the refuge.

Whatever you do enjoy your time on the refuge. The visitor center is open 9:00 to 4:00 Wednesday through Sunday. They have loaner binoculars and field guides and have passes for sale as well as a book store and gift shop.

The refuge is walking only and there is a $3.00 parking fee unless you have a pass. Please, no pets allowed on the refuge.



All are welcome to join me on my Wednesday morning walk that starts at 8:00 AM at the visitor center, or come on one of the weekend walks Spring through early Fall.


“BirdingWashington.Info provides information an out-of-state birder might find useful in planning a birding trip to Washington State. An in-state birder who has not planned his or her own trips might also find this useful. It acts as a portal, or gateway, to other websites and resources. A birder who is new to this state has many wonderful resources available to learn about the birds and birding areas in the state. However, this information is scattered and there is no one website that gathers it together and provides an organized view of that information. BirdingWashington.Info attempts to do that.” (by Randy Robinson, site creator)  (BirdingWashington Site Link)