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Wildlife

All manner of animals live in the natural areas surrounding the Cascade Loop. What you see during your trip will depend on the season, time of day, weather, and how far from the roadway you explore. Animal behavior varies.

Enjoy looking for and photographing wildlife but be alert and safe! Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, do not attempt selfies with critters, and do not offer them your food. 

The Cascade Loop begins and ends in regions close to Puget Sound (Snohomish River Valley, Skagit Valley/Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island). From the car, you may spot seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, including the tufted puffin, bufflehead, western sandpiper, bald eagle, pigeon guillemot, common loon, harlequin duck, rhinoceros auklet, cormorants, scoters, and grebes. Get out of the car for a chance to see otter, sea lion, crab, orca, gray and humpback whales, sea urchins, and sea stars. Your best bet for seeing all of these is to book a trip with Island Adventures, Anacortes Kayak Tours, or Whidbey Island Kayaking.

Western river valleys (Snohomish River Valley and Skagit Valley/Fidalgo Island) are favorite spots for hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl. Look for trumpeter swans, snow geese, and tundra swans in winter. 

While driving through the mountains (Stevens Pass Greenway, Leavenworth and the North Cascades National Park)be on the lookout for deer, coyote, bald eagle, and osprey.

In the backcountry, you may encounter black bear, mountain goat, elk, cougar, raccoons, skunks, and whistling marmots.

Driving through eastern river valleys (Wenatchee/Columbia River Valley, Lake Chelan and the Methow Valley) you may see deer, rabbits, coyotes, bighorn sheep, blue heron, bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey, wild turkey and turkey vulture.

Get away from the highway and you might encounter gray wolves, black bear, cougar, beaver, raccoon, skunk, whistling marmots, grouse, bobcats, badgers, moose, mountain goats, grouse, wild turkey, wolverine, lynx, bobcat, and pikas.

The Columbia River is well-known for spring Chinook, sockeye, coho and steelhead, sturgeon, cutthroat, rainbow trout, and walleye. The past two state-record lake trout were pulled from Lake Chelan (most recently in 2013) where you can also find Chinook, kokanee, cutthroat trout, and burbot.

Watchable Wildlife All Along the Loop
Bird of the Week: Red Winged Blackbird
According to the Seattle Audubon Society, Red-winged Blackbirds are widespread and abundant breeders throughout Washington's lowlands. In winter they are often less widespread, but can be abundant along the Columbia River. Many birds in Washington are migratory, and others move to lowlands forming large winter flocks.Red-winged Blackbirds display marked sexual dimorphism. Males in breeding plumage are very familiar birds to many people. They are solid black, with red wing patches. Each patch has a light yellow stripe below, and can be displayed in varying amounts. Female Red winged Blackbirds are… Read More >>>>
North Cascades Photography: Johnson/Debay Swan Reserve
Skagit Valley is the winter home for Trumpeter and Tundra Swans.  The Johnson'/Debay Swan Reserve, located along Francis Road in Clearlake, is a wonderful place to visit them.The Johnson/DeBay Swan Reserve (JDSR), near Mt. Vernon, Washington, is America’s only swan reserve. Owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Reserve was dedicated in 2001 for the public to view wintering Trumpeter and Tundra Swans.There is a parking area and a bench. In the summer it’s quite green!The winter months are not as colorful, but the migrating waterfowl bring the place alive!It’s a… Read More >>>>
Bird of the Week: Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers, mostly brown, with black-scalloped plumage and a flicker of crimson color on the top of their heads. According to the WDFW these woodpeckers were previously known as the red-shafted flicker, the Northern Flicker has a conspicuous white rump patch and salmon-colored wing undersides that are distinctly visible during its slow, bouncy flight. Read More >>>>