Birdwatching in Cannon Beach
Tips and Resources from Local Birders
Birds are everywhere - join the millions of other birders, or birdwatchers, and start looking for them! Getting started can be hard: where do you go? What do you need? What am I looking at? Fortunately, there are many, many resources to help you on your way! The most important thing is to get out there and get started looking!
Here are a few things to help your birding journey
Gear - To get started, all you really need is some sort of guide! But many people prefer to use binoculars, cameras, or spotting scopes to get a close-up view of the birds. There are many, many different options for optics you can purchase in all ranges of prices. A great place to look at optic and photography gear is BH Photo Video. Most birders start off with a pair of binoculars 8X42 (referring to magnification and objective), but there are lots of different options.
Reference Guides - There are many reference guides that can help you on your birding journey. Some books you may look at purchasing are:
- Must-See Birds of the Pacific Northwest: 85 Unforgettable Species, Their Fascinating Lives, and How to Find Them
- The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd Edition
- Birds of Oregon Field Guide
Community Science - You can use your birding to do good! Submit your lists to eBird and your photos to iNaturalist. Your bird list and photos can provide valuable data to scientists and researchers who may use that data to learn more about birds and our world!
Also, both eBird and iNaturalist are great tools for tracking your own sightings. They can help you figure out where to go to see birds, what birds you need for your lists, and more.
Of course, these things are just suggestions. The beautiful thing about birding is that you can do it anyway you want. You can build your list, enjoy your backyard birds, or travel across the world in search of rarities!
Many birds on the Oregon Coast come and go with the seasons, some migrate here in the winter, others migrate away, and then some stick around year round.
Winter - Although it can be cold and rainy on the Oregon Coast during the winters, it can be a great time for birds! Offshore storms drive rare species closer to shore, so there is potential for Red Phalaropes, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and more. This is also migratory duck season, so check out some sheltered ponds to see what is hanging out for the winter.
Spring - This is the time that birds get ready to start breeding. The Tufted Puffins, cormorants, and others return to Haystack Rock. American Robins return to the fields and parks and Red-winged Blackbirds, the Bird of Cannon Beach, fill the wetlands with their harsh song and flash the red badges on their shoulders.
Summer - Summer is a great time to visit the forests looking for Western Tanagers, Evening Grosbeaks, and Hermit Warblers. Cool off at the beach to see fluffy Black Oystercatcher chicks, and Tufted Puffins and Common Murres flapping at amazing speeds around Haystack Rock. In late summer, you may see Brown Pelicans soaring in a line just over the waves. Swainson’s Thrush and Varied Thrush calls fill the streets and tree-filled areas of town.
Fall - The fall shorebird migration gives you a chance to work on your “peeps”, sea ducks begin to move back through, and seawatching from bluffs can be rewarded with Sooty Shearwaters. Search for Greater White-fronted Geese, American Coots, and Townsend’s Warblers at the Cannon Beach Settling Ponds.
Birdwatching Locations: Check out these Good Spots
The Portland Audubon offers some fun and educational community science projects that you can participate in if you are in Cannon Beach at the right time of year. Be aware that many of them do require some sort of training.
If you are visiting in late December, early January, you may be able to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, America's longest running and most extensive community science project. This project is organized by the National Audubon Society, and while Cannon Beach does not have a circle of its own, at this time the mouth of the Columbia River is the center of a habitat-rich, fun-to-bird Christmas Bird Count circle. Be sure to register early!
If educating visitors at Haystack Rock is your idea of a low tide well spent, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program could use your help teaching visitors about the abundance of tidal life and helping to protect this iconic monolith for future generations.
There are lots of ways to learn more about birding. Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides an incredible amount of information about birds and interesting tips for birding.
Additionally, there are a variety of podcasts about the subject, including Hannah and Erik Go Birding, a show by our local Cannon Beach couple that covers birding topics that span the world. Feel free to stop by their hotel the Sea Breeze Court with any birding questions!
To find more locations around Oregon, you can check out the Oregon Birding Trails website. There is lots to see and do...the first step is to get outside!