Other than making a few quick trips across the Delaware River into Bucks County outside Philadelphia, I’ve been a New Jersey birder exclusively since the COVID pandemic arrived. Finally I was able to venture afar, traveling to Seattle to visit one of my sons.
When I lived in Seattle 30 years ago, I didn’t pay much heed to the birds around me. I was determined to pay more attention — much more — on this trip.
And what did I find?
In the trees outside the windows of my son’s third-floor apartment. On the telephone wires strung across Aurora Avenue. In every park we visited.
I encountered so many crows, in fact, that I suggest Seattle’s biological classification name should be urbs corvidarum.
I saw more crows than seagulls, even allowing for the many gulls I spotted on the roof of Ivar’s restaurant as our ferry from Bainbridge Island pulled into the slip on the Elliott Bay waterfront downtown.
I believe all the crows I saw were American crows, rather than the regional variant Northwestern Crow that lives along the Pacific Coast from Puget Sound to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
As frequent as they were, the crow sightings were incidental. Only on one morning during my week-long stay was I able to get out into the woods to look methodically for birds. After a frustrating drive around Thornton Park, we finally found a trailhead and took a short walk on narrow, overgrown trails.
I could hear a few chirps but, in what was no more than a 20-minute walk, I spotted exactly one bird: a song sparrow, the same variety of bird I see in my yard every day.
The visit also coincided with the record-breaking heat wave that gripped the Northwest in late June. My son will have air conditioning the next time I visit, and I’ll plan more fully to lock in some birding time.