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Soaring Views of Autumn: Birdwatching in Central Washington

September 5, 2023

As the vibrant hues of summer fade into the warm tones of fall, Central Washington undergoes a transformation that bird watchers eagerly await. The changing landscape, combined with the seasonal migration of birds, makes fall an ideal time for bird watching enthusiasts to flock to this picturesque region. From the banks of the Yakima River to the heights of the Cascade Mountains, bird watchers can explore the captivating world of bird watching in Kittitas County during the fall months. Click here to view Birding locations


Fall is a time of movement and change in the bird world. As temperatures begin to drop in the northern latitudes, many bird species embark on a remarkable journey south in search of milder climates and abundant food sources. Central Washington serves as a crucial stopover for these migratory birds, offering them a haven to rest and refuel before continuing their journey south.


The skies come alive with the majestic silhouettes of raptors during the fall and winter months. Eagles, hawks, and falcons take advantage of the region’s thermals to glide effortlessly in search of prey. The Yakima River Canyon is a prime location for spotting these magnificent birds of prey as they soar above the rugged landscape. Click here to view Birding locations.


As the leaves change color and rustle in the breeze, songbirds add their melodious tunes to the sounds of fall. A walk through the woodlands and forests of Central Washington during this season offers the opportunity to encounter a variety of songbird species. Listen for the sweet calls of sparrows, warblers, and thrushes as they forage for insects and seeds among the foliage.


The wetlands and lakes of Kittitas County become bustling hubs of activity during the fall migration. These areas attract a diverse range of waterfowl, from ducks and geese to swans and shorebirds. Bask in the serene beauty of places like the Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park, where you can observe waterfowl gracefully gliding across the water’s surface or foraging along the shores. Click here to view Birding locations


While there are many places to go bird watching, here are a few of our favorites.
Click here for a list of Bird Watching locations.

  • Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park: This park along the Yakima River is a haven for bird watchers. Explore the riverbanks and the diverse habitats it offers for various bird species.
  • Ellensburg Canyon Winery: Combine wine tasting with bird watching as you observe birds in the vineyard and along the river.
  • Umtanum Creek Recreation Area: Traverse the trails that wind through diverse habitats, from grasslands to riparian zones, providing opportunities to spot a wide range of bird species.
  • Kachess Lake: Venture into the higher elevations of the Cascade Mountains to spot waterfowl that gather at this pristine alpine lake.


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  • Binoculars: A pair of quality binoculars is essential for getting a closer look at the birds in their natural habitat.
  • Field Guide: A field guide specific to the region’s birds will help you identify the species you encounter.
  • Seasonal Awareness: Familiarize yourself with the migratory patterns of birds during the fall season to know which species you’re likely to see.
  • Patience: Bird watching requires patience. Find a comfortable spot, observe quietly, and allow the birds to come to you.

When engaging in bird watching, it’s important to prioritize conservation and respect for the birds and their habitats. Keep a safe distance, avoid disturbing nesting sites, and adhere to ethical birding practices that prioritize the well-being of the birds and their environment. We hope you enjoy and appreciate your time in Central Washington, Please Recreate Responsibly and take the Plan to Play Pact with us! Learn more about our Plan to Play Pact here.

Kittitas County’s fall landscape offers a front-row seat to the remarkable world of migratory birds. As these winged travelers grace the skies and natural habitats with their presence, bird watchers are treated to a spectacle of nature’s beauty and diversity. Whether you’re an experienced birder or someone just beginning to explore the world of avian enthusiasts, Kittitas County in the fall promises an unforgettable journey into the realm of feathers, songs, and awe-inspiring migrations. So, grab your binoculars, don your hiking boots, and venture into the captivating world of bird watching amid the stunning autumn backdrop of Kittitas County.

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