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Birding in the mountains

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Old Thursday 25th April 2019, 04:24   #1
pnw_hiker
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Birding in the mountains

Hello all!

I do a lot of (day) hiking around the Cascades and Olympic ranges. I do not have much luck finding birds on these hikes.

My best luck is sub alpine meadow areas. But along forested trails, even on quiet days during the week, I will see little and hear not much more.

Do you have tips?

Thanks!
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Old Thursday 25th April 2019, 07:44   #2
Simon Wates
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Know your woodland habitats and for better birding avoid plantation forest and concentrate your efforts in original, or at least semi-natural forest
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Old Thursday 25th April 2019, 09:34   #3
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Hiking and birding in large forest areas is difficult. First the birds are spread over a huge area, so unless you come across a mixed feeding bird wave you are unlikely to see a huge number. Secondly, you are a big, noisy, blundering, moving, potential predator (no offence, we all are). I'd be tempted to concentrate on forest edges, where the habitat is mixed (and vision is easier). Oh, and from personal experience, watch your feet, I once stepped off the edge of a (fortunately shallow) gorge by looking for birds at exactly the wrong moment...
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Old Thursday 25th April 2019, 11:30   #4
Andrew Clarke
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The best tip I ever had regarding upland birding is to (get comfortable somewhere and) spend ages scanning the horizon. Hopefully you’ll pick something up eventually.

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Old Thursday 25th April 2019, 19:49   #5
nartreb
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Problem with the wooded parts of the Cascades is, you don't see the horizon unless you go above treeline.

You get a lot of very large evergreens in those areas, with no middle story and not much at ground level besides ferns. Insects and other bird food are mostly up on the canopy, too far away for you to see smaller birds. You still get some ground-feeders (e.g. thrushes, grouse), some owls (very hard to find), some woodpeckers (pretty easy: large and loud), some jays. There really isn't much diversity of birds in habitats where there's not a diversity of food sources, nest sites, etc.

Try the eastern part of the range where it's drier, more open, for easier spotting and more ground-level wildflowers to provide food.
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 03:46   #6
pnw_hiker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
Problem with the wooded parts of the Cascades is, you don't see the horizon unless you go above treeline.

You get a lot of very large evergreens in those areas, with no middle story and not much at ground level besides ferns. Insects and other bird food are mostly up on the canopy, too far away for you to see smaller birds. You still get some ground-feeders (e.g. thrushes, grouse), some owls (very hard to find), some woodpeckers (pretty easy: large and loud), some jays. There really isn't much diversity of birds in habitats where there's not a diversity of food sources, nest sites, etc.

Try the eastern part of the range where it's drier, more open, for easier spotting and more ground-level wildflowers to provide food.

Exactly. All the way up, you can't see the canopy.
I will have to make my way to the eastern side some this year. Most of our hikes are around Rainier.

Bird watching is not the only reason I am up there, by any stretch! But I just feel stuck on the trail and wondering if I am missing something not far off!

Appreciate the advice.
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 10:11   #7
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I'd like to add that it also depends on the time of day; usually at least some types of birds can be found more often at dawn, either singing or foraging. The exception being large raptors, which are easier to spot at noon when they use thermals (provided you can see the sky, and it's not raining of course).
Also, is there a canopy walk in your area? Failing that, your best bet is mixed habitat, as said above (clearings, forest edges, creeks, anything near water bodies etc.).
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Old Saturday 27th April 2019, 15:46   #8
pnw_hiker
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Sangahyando,

No canopy walks. Yeah, a hope this year is to do some camping up in the mountains, to be in the meadow above the tree line in the morning.
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Old Friday 10th May 2019, 14:30   #9
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Heading to Lassen Volcanic NP for a couple days of backpacking the end of next month. This won't be a birding trip, but since I live in Texas, I'm hopeful to grab a few lifers along the way. It looks like my best bets will be woodpeckers and possibly flycatchers.
It will probably be for the best that birds are somewhat sparse on this trip. It can be hard to turn off the birding mode switch and just be present and enjoy nature in general.
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