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Catching Sight of Birds on Oregon's Coos, Curry Coast Good Right Now

Published 12/21/20 at 4:35 AM PDT - Updated 12/21/20 at 3:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Catching Sight of Birds on Oregon's Coos, Curry Coast Good Right Now

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(Port Orford, Oregon) - It's wild and wet out there, but it's still a birdwatcher's paradise, says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). (Above: pigeon guillemots in their summer plummage, courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium)

Winter storms along the Oregon coast may make birdwatching impossible, but before and afterwards you may have some good to great luck. According to ODFW, storms can drive birds normally far offshore closer onto beaches and rocky areas, in particular around the southern Oregon coast. The agency said it should be fairly easy catching sight of pigeon guillemots, fulmars, harlequin ducks and many others near the mouths of bays. Point Adams at Charleston is one good example.

Farther down the shore into Coos County, there are lots of songbirds that winter in that area.

Fulmar, photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

“Meadow larks, killdeer and juncos are commonly seen in large groups in the winter,” ODFW said. “Most of the songbird species that summer in the Coos County area have migrated south and will not be seen again until spring.”

ODFW said waterfowl are in abundance between Port Orford and Brookings as well, such as large groups of ducks in the area's bays. They also gravitate towards newly-created ponds: as in when heavy rainstorms near the southern Oregon coast create new ponds a ways inland. When things dry up, they have a habit of leaving for the saltwater areas once again, especially if the inland areas begin to freeze.

Around the entire Oregon coast, ODFW said to keep an eye on bays, jetties, spits and beaches for all kinds of birds.

“At the coast, you can spot birds of prey, waterfowl, seabirds, songbirds, and shorebirds,” ODFW said. “The diversity of birds is highest during spring and fall migrations.”

When waterfowl pile up together in large formations in the water it's called rafting, and there's lots of that in estuaries and bays during the fall migrations. The Coquille, Necanicum, Trask, Yaquina and Alsea rivers – for example - and their estuaries are where you want to keep your eyes peeled.

“Common species during migrations include surf scoter, bufflehead, American widgeon, northern pintail, ring-necked duck, Brant, merganser, canvasback, redhead, greater and lesser scaup, goldeneye, green-winged teal, and ruddy duck,” ODFW said. “Some less common species include long-tailed duck (in Yaquina Bay), Harlequin duck, brown pelican, Eurasian widgeon, white-winged and black scoters, and an occasional Eider.”

When it comes to seabirds, you'll find them in bays, but ODFW said you'll have more luck with common murres and pigeon guillemots on rocky islands or ocean cliffs. Right after large storms is a good time to catch them.

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Brown pelican, courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Guilemots, photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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