Audubon Washington offers tips on birding at Cape Disappointment State Park, near Ilwaco, Pacific County.

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Cape Disappointment State Park, Site 21 from “Southwest Loop” of Audubon Washington’s Great Washington State Birding Trail

Location: Near Ilwaco, on Pacific coast at mouth of Columbia River.

Habitat: 1,964-acre park with Pacific Ocean beach, Columbia River estuary, fresh- and saltwater wetlands, and forest.

Best seasons for birding: Year-round.

Birds commonly seen: Peregrine falcons hunt dunlin in winter. Watch beaches for migrating black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, and western and least sandpipers, and edges of freshwater lakes for killdeer, lesser and greater yellowlegs, and spotted sandpipers. In Beard’s Hollow spring-to-early summer, watch and listen for marsh wrens, black-headed grosbeaks, Swainson’s thrushes, warbling vireos, black-throated gray and orange-crowned warblers, chestnut-backed and black-capped chickadees, and Wilson’s snipe. On the coast summer-to-early fall, enjoy a visual feast of brown pelicans; Brandt’s, pelagic, and double-crested cormorants, and nesting colonies of Caspian terns. Year-round park residents include bald eagles, and western and glaucous-winged gulls. Some Heermann’s gulls are possible August to October. Turkey vultures soar April to September.

Viewing tips: Seven trails in the park offer variety: Beard’s Hollow — Take 0.1-mile trail to beach. North Head Lighthouse — Take the short trail past lighthouse and scope black oystercatchers on cliff below; and sooty shearwaters, parasitic jaegers, and common murres skimming over ocean. First North Jetty — Scope cormorant rookery on cliffs to east. Second North Jetty — Amble north along Benson Beach. Look for osprey nest in tree by Lake O’Neil.

More birding: Highway 100 loop dead-ends at 3.8 miles at Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. From center parking area, hike ¾-mile trail to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Source: Audubon Washington, Great Washington State Birding Trail maps. See maps online (or order hard copies, $4.95 apiece), at