PAWS Magazine

Issue 36, Winter 1998

Wild Sights

Beyond the urban boundaries, Washington’s wildlife abounds! There are dozens of sites around the state for viewing wildlife ranging from roadside areas to mountain ridges. Whatever your level of interest, there are wildlife viewing opportunities for everyone. Here are a few resources:

Puget Sound Eyes on Wildlife is a cooperative, regional program to increase the availability of wildlife viewing areas and promote learning about wildlife needs, habitat protection, and viewing ethics. A guide to viewing wildlife around the state is available. Contact Puget Sound Eyes on Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, phone (360) 902-2364. Sample sites available on the internet at

The Washington Wildlife Viewing Guide shows nearly 100 viewing sites around the state of Washington. All sites are open to the public and range from those with facilities to primitive. Many agencies and organizations came together to create this guide and it is available through Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, or Falcon Press at 800-582-2665.

King County Parks

The King County Parks system offers a variety of workshops for adults and children who are interested in learning more about the natural heritage in our county parks. Programs are free or offered for a small fee. Some teacher training programs are offered. Preregistration is required for all programs. For additional program information contact the King County Parks, Interpretive Programs Office, at (206) 296-4171.

National Audubon Society

There are several chapter offices of the National Audubon Society in the Puget Sound region offering a variety of classes and workshops from beginning birding through master birders. Contact the local chapter near you or the Seattle Audubon Society office for more information (206) 523-4483.

Viewing Hints:

Choose your season. Many animals are migratory and can only be seen during certain seasons. For instance, gray whales can only be seen off the Pacific coast for a few weeks in the spring. Many bird species are migratory.

Learn the feeding habits of wildlife. For example, some animals only feed at night and marine birds use the tides in their daily feeding.

Use binoculars. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will open up a whole new world. With a twenty power spotting scope it is possible to see a mountain goat standing 1.5 miles away.

Come prepared. Weather is unpredictable in Washington state. On the westside, you should plan for rain any time of the year. Consult tide charts, carry good maps, enough clothing, food and water to survive over night if necessary.

Move slowly and quietly. Movement will scare animals and birds away. Be still and observe. Although animals often disappear as you arrive, they will return shortly if you are quiet enough.

Use field guides. Field guides can tell you the best times of year for viewing, habitats, behaviors, and identification to use in the field.

Enjoy wildlife at a distance. Refrain from touching, feeding, or getting too close to animals. Some birds will abandon their nests if they are threatened. Animals can be dangerous when cornered. Young animals that appear orphaned usually have parents waiting in the shadows.

Be patient. Allow yourself enough time in the field. Settle in and enjoy the wildlife that comes to you.

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