Birding in the San Juan Islands

Updated May 2017

The San Juan Islands with its gorgeous beaches and rocky shores, formed by ancient glaciers, its wooded hills and lush pastures, is home to over 300 species of migratory and non-migratory birds.

The islands lie within the Pacific Coast Flyaway, which extends from Alaska to South America, making it a popular stop for migratory birds, like the majestic Trumpeter Swan, who spends our temperate winters with us.

San Juan Island features four main sites on the Audubon Society’s Puget Loop of Washington State Birding Trail: the Lime Kiln State Park, American Camp, English Camp and Jackson Beach; the latter just a mile from the Earthbox Inn & Spa.

Our extensive shoreline with its muddy, pebbly beaches full of mussels and oysters are home to virtually all American water fowl, Harlequin Ducks, Black Oyster Catchers, Wandering Tattlers, Surfbirds, to name a few, and twelve different kind of gulls.

We have the highest concentration of Bald Eagles (a breeding pair for each mile of shoreline) and Peregrine Falcons in Washington State. The much rarer Golden Eagles, Kingfishers and Ospreys are a familiar sight as well.

On the smaller end of the avian spectrum, you’ll find Anna and Rufous Hummingbirds zipping by inches from your head in town, on the beach and in the forest. In the wooded hills around English Camp you might run into Pacific Slope Flycatchers, Townsend’s Warblers, or the handsome Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.

Our beautiful farm valleys, dotted with Gerry oaks, are home to the common raven, Cowbirds and the Redwing Blackbird and its melodious song. The Western Bluebird, once in severe decline on San Juan Island is making a come back thanks to our friends at the San Juan Preservation Trust’s Reintroduction Project.

Birding in the San Juan’s from land and sea is spectacular year round. For guided boat birding check out San Juan Safaris  where you can charter a boat for a private 3-4 hour Birding Safari.

Sea Quest Kayak in Friday Harbor offers guided bird tours by land, tailored to your wishes and needs.

Wherever you go, keep your eyes out and ears open. You don’t have to be a professional birder to see amazing birds on San Juan Island.