One of Washington’s most spectacular events is the return of migrating birds to the Skagit Valley. The rich farmlands provide these birds with a natural feeding ground as they build up the energy required for the long northern return flight in the spring. In addition, many area farmers contribute acres of land to the “Barley for Birds” program. The Skagit Valley hosts one of the largest wintering population of birds in the lower 48 states. Some 55,000 snow geese return here annually, along with 10,000 trumpeter and tundra swans.
Make Mount Vernon your home base as you explore the farm fields and banks of the Skagit River. We welcome you with warm accommodations, great food and local brews. We hope to see you soon!
Only about half the size of the trumpeters, snow geese of all ages have black wing tips and a wing span of about 3 feet. They number about 55,000 birds in Skagit, with many on Fir Island. As with the trumpeters, we advise viewers to avoid disturbing the flocks by approaching too close. They need to feed undisturbed in order to store up energy for the winter stay and spring migration. If the flock is feeding near a road, please remain in your vehicle. When they are feeding far from the road, use binoculars or a long camera lens to view them without disturbing them.
Trumpeter & Tundra Swans
Skagit Valley’s wintering trumpeter and tundra swan population now numbers about 10,000. The adult swan has a wing span of about 5 feet. Trumpeters are often accompanied by tundra swans, a bit smaller and lighter in color with a wing span of about 4.5 feet. Both the trumpeter and tundra swans are sensitive to human intrusion, so please stay in your vehicle while observing them.
Raptors of all sorts also frequent Skagit wildlife areas including the 8,000-acre Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area. From early December through January, hundreds of eagles hang out together and feast on carcasses of spawning salmon. Every weekend in January, there are educational and fun activities going on upriver at the Skagit Eagle Festival
Other wildlife seen around Skagit include elk, deer, coyote, otter, sea lion, whale and more. Outfitters are available to get you on the river and in the sound.