Bird Watching in Central Washington is one of the best locations for birders in the Pacific Northwest. Tucked away far from any major cities, in the cold winter months we host some of the region’s hottest birding. Late winter is prime time for viewing bald eagles in our area.
The best place to view bald eagles is northeast of Ellensburg in the Fairview and Naneum areas during calving season, from February through late April. In addition to the late winter/spring visits, bald eagles also can be found here in the fall feeding on salmon.
Where’s your favorite spot to birdwatch? Share your favorite shots and recommendations with us!
Acquisition of the Colockum began in the mid-1950s using federal Pittman-Robertson funds to expand winter range for deer and elk herds and to perpetuate and improve upland game bird habitat.
East Cascades Ecoregion and Birding Sites
The 54,070-acre L.T. Murray unit is about 15 miles west of Ellensburg. WDFW owns 39,305 acres, DNR owns 14,424 acres currently either leased to WDFW or under WDFW management and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) owns 341 acres in the Taneum drainage. Lying in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, the eastern end receives less than 16 inches of precipitation, but the westside gets up to 100 inches of snow. Elevations range from 2,000 to near 4,500 feet. The L.T. Murray extends in a band about 11 miles wide from south of Cle Elum to the top of Manastash Ridge. The lower portions of two major drainages, Taneum Canyon on the north and Manastash Canyon on the south, are within the unit. The streams in these canyons flow west to east and empty into the Yakima River. Numerous smaller perennial and intermittent stream channels feed these two major drainages. The timbered portions of the L.T. Murray form the upper watersheds that culminate in Taneum and Manastash Canyons, and the agricultural lands of the eastern Kittitas Valley.
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Ellensburg, WA 98926
The trail leaves behind the highway and clusters of anglers and rolls up past an old homestead (complete with an overgrown, brambly apple orchard) and leads into pristine desert wildlife habitat.
The Umtanum Creek Trail in the Yakima River Canyon is a good location to find golden eagles and other birds.
Yakima River Canyon just south of Ellensburg
Wenas Wildlife Area supports a significant population of California big sheep, and also Rocky mountain elk and mule deer. The area is used heavily as a stopover by migratory birds during springtime, and supports many resident bird species year round. During winter, bald eagles are common residents in the Yakima Canyon and tributary canyons. Rattlesnakes are relatively common during late spring and summer at lower elevations.
Central Washington — Yakima