Spring in the Washington Cascades Jun 03—09, 2018

Posted by Rafael Galvez


Rafael Galvez

Rafael Galvez has been birding and illustrating birds since childhood, a dual passion that developed when his family moved from Peru to South Florida. Always with a sketchp...

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The diversity of habitats easily accessible from our base during our Spring in the Washington Cascades – Relaxed & Easy tour promised a wonderful experience and a broad array of species within a relatively short period of time. Although we had started birding on the “wet side” of the Cascades, visiting moist and upland forests under damp and breezy conditions, by our third morning of birding we were worlds away amidst a vast blanket of cool-green sagebrush under still and sunny skies, surrounded by bird specialties found nowhere else during our tour. We had open views of gentle hills for miles in each direction, and the brush was teeming with song, bringing to life what at first appeared to be a barren and inhospitable habitat.

White-headed Woodpeckers at a nest

White-headed Woodpeckers at a nest— Photo: Rafael Galvez


The lively songs of Brewer’s Sparrows soon captured our attention, and it did not take long for us to spot a number of these electric little birds darting through the bushes around us. Before long, Sagebrush Sparrows joined in on the chorus. Minutes later we were getting fantastic views of one of these elegant specialists of the sagebrush just a few feet away from us, singing atop a shrub. Sage Thrashers could also be heard, and soon we were observing a pair peering up from the underbrush, carrying bugs in their bills, presumably for young at a nest nearby. And then, a burst of sky-blue before us revealed a male Mountain Bluebird, which soon perched in the open, joined by a female and their fledgling. Common Nighthawks flew overhead, calling; the sonic booms from their display dives could be heard from quite a distance. All the while, the sweet aroma of sage stirred gently underfoot. We had been there less than a half hour, and we were already being treated to unparalleled views of the species unique to that habitat.

Read Rafael’s full report in his Field Report.