Sunny Walter's
Washington Nature Weekends

Wildlife Viewing Locations - Greater Seattle Area

Excerpted from * Nature in the City, Seattle by Maria Dolan and Kathryn True
[with additions by Sunny Walter and local Audubon chapters]

Arboretum to the Central District
  • Frink Park  (S Jackson and 31st Ave S)
    9 wetlands --
    songbirds, raptors, towhee, downy woodpecker
    Best time to go -- spring, summer; April -- rhododendrons
  • Nora’s Woods  (29th Ave and E Columbia St)
    Native-species park, remnant orchard, fern gully, meadow, forest
    Sharp-shinned hawk, rock doves, warblers, bushtits, kinglets, flickers, downy woodpeckers
    Best time to go -- winter, spring
  • Interlaken Park (trail -- 19th and Galer)
    Giant redwood and other mature trees, salmonberry, ferns
    Stopping point for migratory birds; male birds flock to park in search of nest sites in Feb.
    Nesting band-tailed pigeon, downy woodpecker, northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, several warblers, and wrens
    Western pocket gopher mounds
    Best time to go -- winter, spring
Queen Anne and Magnolia
  • Queen Anne Boulevard Tour
    • 10th West – Scarlet oaks from Halladay to Newell streets; Eastern gray squirrels gather acorns 
    • 8th Ave west between W Fulton and Ray– yellow birches – brilliant yellow in fall
  • Mount Pleasant Cemetery  (Queen Anne  -- 700 W. Raye St)
    Birds – nuthatches, varied thrushes, downy woodpeckers, red-breasted sapsuckers –
         also eagle overhead
    Linden trees, lots of lichen species
  • Discovery Park Beach Walk  (Magnolia)
    Free nature walks on weekends and some weekdays; go to
    Events for schedule;
    Best time to go to beaches -- low tide
    • North Beach – fertile tide pools, cormorants, wigeons, Western grebes, gulls (18 species)
      Sea lions, harbor seals, orcas in winter
    • Gravel path above beach – pond ringed with cattails and red osier dogwood – native species, muskrat
    • Just outside gates to Discovery Park – eagle nest – scopes starting in early April – adults feeding young eaglets
    • South Beach – geology, cliffs with pigeon guillemots and kingfishers, red-tailed hawks high on wind
  • Kiwanis Ravine Heron Colony  (Magnolia -- go past Fisherman’s terminal, right on 21st Ave W (curves to left and becomes Commodore Way), parking lot on right at 34th Ave. W. (south side of locks). Walk east to 33rd Ave W and W. Harley and go up hill. In a short block, see an alley to the right that end at a pedestrian bridge over the railroad track.)
    34 heron nests, 56 other bird species
    Best viewing is on the north side of the bridge looking toward Discovery Park. 
    Best time -- late Feb to May     (Sunny Walter: try March for best views - less foliage)
  • Magnolia’s Madrones  (Magnolia Boulevard Viewpoints)
    Madrones (flowers in spring)
    Summer - hummingbirds; fall - band-tailed pigeons, varied thrushes, cedar waxwings, Bewick’s wrens; nesting – northern flickers, crows. 
    Fall -- warm, glowing bark at sunset, fruits instead of flowers
Ballard, Fremont, and Northwest Seattle
  • Carkeek Park  (950 NW Carkeek Park Rd)
    Piper’s Creek: coho salmon - 1st week in Nov, chum salmon – 2nd or 3rd week in Nov
    Wetland area – summer – tree frogs, salamanders, dragonflies
  • Hiram M. Chittenden Locks  (3015 NW 54th St)
    Carl S English Botanical Garden
    Sockeye, salmon, chinook, coho, steel head

    Best time to go -- late summer, fall
  • Golden Gardens Park  (Shilshole Bay)
    California sea lions migrate thru Puget Sound in late summer, fall – gather on buoys or platforms outside rock jetty in front of marina

         (>1000 male sea lions gather in Everett – peak in April)

    North Beach – walk north along beach and east to wetlands trail – ducks
  • [Sunny Walter -- Pillings Pond -- Exotic Waterfowl  (just off the 1600 block of North 90th Street)
    Though tucked behind a rusting wire fence, the pond remains in full view of passers-by]
Greenlake, Ravenna, and the University District
  • Green Lake – lots more birds species in winter
    Great blue heron (early morning only), pied-billed grebes (summer nesting on west side of lake)
    Red-winged blackbirds (most vocal in late winter and early spring), wigeons, nesting bald eagles
    Stand of pine on north end – red-breasted sapsuckers; mulched area to east of pine –
         snags attract woodpeckers in winter and spring,
         summer - nesting black-capped chickadees and downy woodpeckers.
    Bathhouse Theater – platform of gulls.
  • Ravenna Park and Creek  (NE 55th St and NE Ravenna Blvd)
    Skunk cabbage (early spring); 30+ bird species
  • Montlake Fill  (Union Bay Natural Area) – canoe trail (start at UW Waterfront Activities Center)
    Red-winged blackbirds, various duck species, great blue heron, green heron, bittern
    Marsh and Foster islands on south side of cut – several turtle species, white water lilies (summer),
         grebes, crows (winter evenings)
    Best time to go -- spring, summer
  • Union Bay Natural Area  - walking  (start near UW Urban Horticulture Bldg)
    150 species of birds visit here – migrating shorebirds come in late summer to early fall;
         waterfowl from late fall to early spring
    SE corner – turtles
    Best time to go -- fall, spring
  • [Sunny Walter: Foster Island / Montlake Fill Canoe Trip
    Herons, waterfowl, turtles, cormorants, grebes, red-winged blackbirds
    Rent canoes at UW Waterfront Activities Center
    Best time to go -- spring]

South Seattle
  • Dead Horse Canyon  (0.5 mile west of Rainier on 68th Ave. S)
    Taylor Creek, urban forest, ferns, native plants
    Osprey, pileated woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, cutthroat trout, raccoons, opossum, coyote
    Best time to go -- fall
  • Kubota Garden  (Renton Ave S & 5th Ave S)
    Beautiful Japanese gardens
    15 bird species (pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, cedar waxwings, Anna’s hummingbirds,
         Cooper’s hawks, downy woodpeckers)
    Might see raccoons, bats, foxes, deer, frogs, salamanders
    Best time to go -- winter, spring
  • Bradner Gardens Park  (29th Ave S and S Grand)
    Flowers and butterflies
    Best time to go --  summer, fall
  • Seward Park  (South end of Lake Washington)
    Several old growth tree species, hundreds of native plants

    Bats, beaver, muskrat, salmon, abundant woodland and water-loving birds
    Flock of scarlet-fronted parakeets (moves to NE Seattle in the winter)
    2 pairs nesting bald eagles (young learning to fly in July)
    Best time to go -- spring
West Seattle and Duwamish River
  • West Seattle Beach  (south of Alki) – go at low tide
    Constellation Park and Marine Reserve – osprey – summer
    Cormorant Cove Park – cormorants, seabirds – winter and spring
    Me-Kwa-Mooks Park – tide pools
  • Duwamish Restoration Bike Tour
    Best time to go -- summer, fall
    • Cecil Moses Memorial Park  (Tukwila International Blvd & S 112th St) - salmon
    • Hamm Creek  (W Marginal Way s & S 96th St) – heron, kingfisher, waterfowl --
           fall – salmon; also river otters, seals, sea lions, birds
    • Kellogg Island - osprey, rufous hummingbirds, purple martin houses
    • Herring’s House Park wetland project – red-winged blackbirds, eagles
      (spring brings eagle/osprey aerial fights)
  • Camp Long  (5200 35th Ave SW, West Seattle)
    Mushrooms, birds, salamanders, frogs, snakes, bats, family of red foxes on adjacent golf course
    Best time to go -- Oct-Nov for mushrooms
  • Roxhill Bog  (29th Ave SW and SW Barton)
    35000 native plants appropriate for bogs
    American wigeons, belted kingfishers, red-winged blackbirds, Cooper’s hawks
    Early spring and summer – best time to see blooms and broods; fall good also
  • Schmitz Park  (5551 S Admiral W
    Old growth forest, 25 species of birds
    Spring – trillium and skunk cabbage flowers
Northeast Seattle
  • Sand Point Magnuson Park  (on Lake Washington north of Univ District)
    Promontory Point – wintering ducks
    Lakeshore Promenade stretches north all along the lake:
    • Huge patch of blackberries just past boat launch – raptors
    • Mowed lawn next – nesting for killdeers in spring and summer
    • After the bathrooms – fin art and lots of birds (watch for coveys of quail)
    • NOAA’s buildings – haven for owls – come out to hunt
    • Turn south on paved path just before dog fence and walk uphill – 2nd dirt trail on left takes you to native plantings, then further south to tree frog pond.
  • Meadowbrook  (35th NE and 105th St (Lake city)
    • Meadowbrook Community Center Wetlands – up the sloped sidewalk and follow a woodchip path across the bridge – songbirds
    • Thornton Creek – salmonoids (north of baseball field)
    • Meadowbrook Pond and Thornton Creek (east of 35th – Seattle Public Utilities  Detention Pond) – waterfowl, amphibians, beaver in creek
  • Paramount Park Open Space wetland  (NE 148th and 11th Ave NE – Shoreline)
    Pacific tree frogs – chorus at dusk (best on east side of far pond;
         best after a rain on a warm evening – spring and summer)
    Salamanders, 34 species of birds, reflective pools and native plants
  • North Seattle Community College Wetlands  (park at visitor lot off College Way between. N. 95th and N. 97th, register, then go to last parking lot at north end of campus)
    Mid-summer – dry paths; winter -- wet
    • Settling pond – Pacific tree frogs, native plants
    • Pondo Neuvo – tree frogs and salamanders (spring?)
    • Surge Pond – wintering waterfowl, chickadees, bushtits, flickers, herons, etc.
  • [Sunny Walter -- Twin Ponds  (Shoreline, NE 150th St. and 1st Ave NE)
    Wetlands.  Local birds, herons, turtles, frogs, tadpoles, ducks, and squirrels]
    [Seattle AS
    (Oct 19 trip) -- see raptors, belted kingfishers, and assorted passerines
    Click HERE for detail information on Twin Ponds species]

[Beavers, Otters, and Salmon in Thornton Creek
 (Seattle Press)]

[N Seattle CC Ponds -- Photo Gallery  
(Campus ponds, Meadowbrook Pond, Thornton Creek Walk, Twin Ponds Park)]
* Nature in the City, Seattle is all about where and when to find
wildlife and natural wonders  in and around the Seattle area.  
You can buy this excellent book at:
The Mountaineers Books


Greater Seattle Area
  • Black River Riparian Forest
    • Waterworks Garden  (1200 Monster Rd SW – East Division Reclamation Plant; across the street from Black River Riparian Forest)
      Spring – hawks overhead, frogs, native plantings
      Best time to go -- fall

    • [Sunny Walter: Black River Heron Colony – best views of heron courting and nest building in March/April before leaves are on trees.  June/July are good for young heron fledging
      Waterfowl on river; geese nesting on islands.  Rabbits in brush]
  • Mercer Slough  (Bellevue Way SE, just north of Park ‘n Ride – park at Winter’s House)
    Forest birds, snakes, herons, waterfowl, osprey – buffleheads and goldeneye in winter
    Watch for red foxes and coyotes at dawn and dusk
    Free guided nature walks year around; call 425-452-2752 for schedule
    • [East Lake Washington Audubon Society:  Particularly in April, watch for songbirds, and tune your ear for their unique songs. We’ll see flotillas of mallards and the new colors on all the grasses and trees.]
  • Orion O. Denny Park  (take NE 116 St west until it changes into NE Juanita Dr; turn left at light onto 76th Pl NE, also known as Holmes Point Drive NE; wind down to lakeshore)
    Forest trail along Denny Creek – salmon
    Up to ridge – eagle nest, owls, hawks, woodpeckers, thrushes in spring, other woodland birds here all year
    Native plants
    Best time to go -- summer, fall
  • [Sunny Walter: Juanita Bay Park  (2201 Market St -- south of NE 116th St)
    Herons, eagles, songbirds, nesting grebes, cormorants, waterfowl, coots, turtles, beaver

    Boardwalks to viewing platforms

    Free interpretive tours at 1:00 pm the
    1st Sunday of every month
    Best time to go for grebe babies -- mid-June; best time for turtles --
    sunny days in spring/summer]
Puget Sound Islands
  • Vashon Island:  Quartermaster Harbor – winter home to 35 species of waterfowl, including thousands of Western grebes.
    Best time is from Nov to April when thousands of waterfowl gather here
    (may seeing grebe courting behavior in April)
    • Jensen Point  (8900 Harbor Dr; take Vashon Hwy SW 9 miles to SW Burton Dr, turn left and drive 0.6 mi. Turn left at 97th Ave SW (T) and continue around the peninsula to Burton Acres Boat House and Jensen Point)
      Can rent kayaks to paddle out near grebes.
    • Shawnee Beach – also good viewing
    • Burton Acres Park (across road) – 1-mile loop trail thru second growth native trees.

  • Bainbridge Island:
    [Kitsap AS:  Boat trip
    will circumnavigate Bainbridge Island; trip will last 4+ hours.  
    Fall and winter sea ducks, loons, grebes, and more.  Mid-October.
  • Jetty Island  (take ferry from 10th St Boat Launch – July 5 to Labor Day)
    Grassy dunes and saltwater lagoon – terns, sandpipers, plovers, and other shorebirds
    Winter (use own boat) – wide variety of waterfowl
    [Sunny Walter note – osprey young fledge in July]
    [Pilchuck Audubon list of Bird Species seen on Jetty Island:   8/18/01,   8/7/01,   7/10/01]]
    [Seattle Audubon Field Trip, 7/17/03:  shorebirds, nesting osprey, arctic terns, peregrine falcon
  • Spencer Island  (Snohomish River Estuary -- take Smith Island access / Frontage Rd to Langus Riverfront Park and then Spencer Island parking lot)
    300 species of birds, variety of mammals, salmon
    Kayak is best way to see estuary – launch at Langus Riverfront Park
    Spencer Island trail – late winter and spring are best time to see waterfowl
    ELWAS:  Explore this wetland located near the Everett Sewage Treatment ponds -- ducks, shorebirds, hawks, eagles, gulls.  Smaller birds in brushy and grassy areas.  Late Sept trip]
    [SAS:  returning waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds.  There are usually woodpeckers (Downy, Hairy, and Pileated?) and raptors (maybe a falcon or two). Early oct trip]
Kent, Maple Valley, etc.
South Puget Sound
* Nature in the City, Seattle is all about where and when to find
wildlife and natural wonders  in and around the Seattle area.  
You can buy this excellent book at:
The Mountaineers Books

For a seasonal listing of Greater Seattle area
wildlife and nature locations, go to:



Go To:


Links checked and updated on:  February 10, 2006
Text and photos are copyright © Sunny Walter  (unless otherwise noted)
For more information, contact