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Birds You Can See in Seattle

Jun 1st, 2020

Have you ever wondered what birds have been hanging around your local park or natural areas? If you’re in Seattle, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the delicate songs and calls of the birds around you, making it difficult to dedicate much time to bird watching. However, there are still plenty of birds that you can identify right outside your apartment building, whether you’re in our high-rise apartments in downtown Seattle or in our Wallingford Apartments near Gas Works Park. Here are a few of the most common birds you’re likely to find in and around Seattle.

Birds you can see in Seattle

European starling

You can identify the European starling by their dark, glossy coloring and pointed beaks. They do change color throughout the year as the seasons change, though; in the fall, white tips appear on their feathers, giving the appearance of white spots. If they had a unique call or sound, I’d certainly tell you so that you could more easily identify it, but the starling can actually imitate the calls of up to twenty other birds! 

You can usually find starlings in parks or gardens, but they are also quite common in urban areas, too. 

Fun fact: the European starling arrived in the United States through New York City in the 1890s. A flock of 100 of them were released in Central Park, and now they can be found all over the country, including Alaska!

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Swamp sparrow

Swamp sparrows, although they are quite small and hard to see in the dark, are easily identifiable by their rusty, striped back and head and grayish breast. 

You can find swamp sparrows near water, and that’s really the only place you’ll find them. They like to forage near the water, so those of you in our apartments near Fremont and Northwest Seattle apartments in Ballard should be able to find them near Lake Union or Salmon Bay easily. 

Belted kingfisher

If you’ve never seen kingfishers in action, they are quite the sight to behold! Kingfishers hover over the water as they eye their prey before diving down to snag their prey.

In most cases, female birds are more dull-colored than males. In the belted kingfisher’s case, though, the female has a little more color than the male. You can identify the belted kingfishers by the bands of color across their white chests; the males have a blue-gray color band that matches their wings, back and head, while the females have that and a brown band below it. They have a crown of gray feathers and a strong, black beak.

American robin

The American Robin is a common backyard bird throughout North America. You can find them hopping across lawns, twittering in trees and hanging around bird feeders. They are found in both cities and natural areas, so keep an eye out for them on both your urban and wilderness hikes, especially those of you in our apartments near Bellevue Square and Downtown Park!

Band-tailed pigeon

Pigeons of all types can be found everywhere, but the band-tailed pigeon is found mostly along the Pacific coast. They usually prefer staying in trees and forested areas, but they often gather around bird feeders and parks, too. Look out for its yellow feet, black-tipped yellow bill and white band across the back of their necks.

Hairy woodpecker

These woodpeckers are found all across the United States, but they are quite a tricky bird to spot, especially in cities. This small woodpecker is identifiable by its black and white spotted back and striped face, and the males have a distinctive red dot on the back of their heads.

You’re not likely to find them in urban areas without having a decent bird feeding setup, but if you venture out into larger parks like Washington Park Arboretum or Discovery Park, then you may find them scampering up large trees or tapping away at the bark.

American bushtit

Bushtits are small but social birds that are usually found near bushes, thickets and trees where they can find insects. They are small and gray-colored, and they will often be found with other small songbirds. 

Fun fact: unlike most birds, the bushtit likes to sleep in its nest with the whole family during breeding season. Most other birds have only one parent in the nest at a time.

You might be surprised at the wide variety of birds you’re able to see in the middle of Seattle. Look up in the trees lining the downtown streets in the business district, and you might notice more life and activity there than you ever have before. There are more birds in curbside flowerpots, traffic circle shrubbery and dockside greenery than you might think, so keep an eye out for the feathered friends that share the city of Seattle with you! 


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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/TeeFarm

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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