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Bird Watching

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  Bird Watching
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!


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Sun & Sage Loop
This loop is one of many great birding locations of The Great Washington State Birding Trail. Developed by the National Audubon Society -- this loop goes through Ellensburg, Cle Elum and Vantage and offers a variety of birding locations, each with different species of birds. 
Umtanum Creek Trail
Umtanum Canyon is a 8 mile out and back trail located near Ellensburg, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

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.
L.T. Murray
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.
East Cascades Ecoregion and Birding Sites
This area includes the Cle Elum- North Pacific Ponds where you can watch various birds from all different species in their natural habitats
Quilomene Wildlife Area (Vantage, WA)
Ellensburg, WA. 98926
Quilomene offers a habitat for a variety of wildlife including birds! Come here to see quail, chukar, grouse, hawks, eagles, and songbirds. 
Colokum Wildlife Area
Colockum Wildlife Area covers an expanse of territory from sub-alpine and mixed forest at higher elevations to pine foothills, shrub-steppe ridge country and prairie bunchgrass closer to the Columbia River shore. The area is located north of Ellensburg and south of Wenatchee. The Colockum has a network of primative roads, in places suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles or alternative transportation such as mountain bikes, horses, or foot travel.
Wenas Wildlife Area
The 105,460-acre Wenas Wildlife Area, southwest of Ellensburg in both Yakima and Kittitas counties, is managed as one unit.

WDFW owns 70,093 acres, leases 16,514 acres of the 30,643 acres owned by DNR, and manages 3,485 acres for BLM. Elevation ranges from 1,200 to 4,100 feet. Much of the land is very dry, with predominantly south-facing slopes. Except for the cliffs along Umtanum Creek and the Yakima River, most of the topography is not overly steep. The unique soil formation known as the Manastash Mounds is found throughout lands lying south of Umtanum Ridge.

Property was first acquired in the mid-1960s for elk wintering habitat. A winter feeding program is conducted annually to help meet management goals for the Yakima elk herd.

Columbia Basin Birding Locations
Ellensburg, WA. 98926
See bird varieties along the Columbia Basin in both Ellensburg and Vantage.

Whiskey Dick
The 17,803-acre Quilomene unit and 28,549-acre Whiskey Dick unit, located about 15 miles northeast of Ellensburg, are now connected by WDFW's recent acquisition of 5,441 acres of the Skookumchuck drainage. The contiguous total of 51,793 acres (of which WDFW owns 11,523 on Quilomene and 17,027 on Whiskey Dick, with the balance in DNR acres) is managed together. The first purchase was made in 1962 with state Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation funds to expand winter range for deer and elk herds and to perpetuate and improve upland game bird habitat.
Naneum Ridge
Ellensburg, WA 98926
The Naneum Ridge State Forest is 71,000-acres and has good accessibility hunting for both elk and deer on or around Table Mountain. The Naneum Basin/Canyon will holds a variety of animals for viewing as well. If there is early snowfall, the deer and elk will migrate downward and will be found mostly on the south facing slopes of Cooke Canyon and Coleman Canyon.  Coleman creek provides a great access point, but it may be crowded with hunters during Elk Season.

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