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MtSpokaneSP.PDF  (Mount Spokane State Park, Courtesy of Ron Dexter)

The Little Spokane River Natural Area.pdf (Courtesy of Washington Birder and Garrett MacDonald)

 

BIRDING IN THE CITY
by Joyce Alonso
September 2006

Everyone has a favorite birding location. Ron Dexter knows Mt. Spokane like his own backyard. Jim Acton frequents the Davenport Cemetery. Reardan's Audubon Lake has been visited many times by Warren Hall...and so on. However, if your need to go birding is really acute, but you can spare only an hour, may I suggest some city parks?

I know, you probably won't see the latest rarity (Green Heron, for example) and your species count may not pass a couple dozen. Still, many of our feathered friends coexist with us here in town and a little patience can be rewarding. Perhaps we can spend “quality time” getting to know one bird better instead of racing around, building a list.

I haven't made a practice of frequenting all the parks in town so I'm hoping that this article will be followed by others written by birders living in North Spokane, someone from the Valley, and any other good in-town spot. The three places I may go when pressed for time are all on the South Hill (and all in my CBC territory, so I know birds are there year round.)

Manito Park, located between Grand and Bernard St. and between 17th and 25th Ave., is the best-known park in the area. It's often populated by hollering children, calling parents, and barking dogs...not the best environment for birding; however, there are some quiet sections. The “natural area” north of the Japanese Garden is full of California Quail. The Lilac Garden may harbor warblers, especially in migration. Chickadees and Nuthatches abound in the evergreens; Kinglets and Song Sparrows, in the bushes. Of course, there are Robins, Flickers, Crows, etc. Some years ago Western Screech Owls were found in the evergreens bordering the Duncan Gardens. Finally, at the pond, amid the hundreds of Mallards and hybrids, you may find a few of our wilder duck species. There also are plenty of Canada Geese and Ring-billed Gulls.

Cannon Hill Park, considerably smaller, is a favorite of mine. It is east of Lincoln St. and two blocks west of Bernard, between 18th and 20th Ave. Our organization raised funds after “Icestorm” to plant four trees there, which are growing nicely. The pond has some vegetation on one edge, a hiding place for waterfowl. Though Mallards are dominant, Wood Ducks, American Wigeons, and the occasional Ruddy or Hooded Merganser can be seen, especially in fall. A Great Blue Heron sometimes visits. There are Mt. Ash trees in the neighboring yards, full of Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings as well as Robins at the right time of year. Other birds I've enjoyed there are a Brown Creeper added to one CBC list; a Coopers' Hawk looking for his dinner, an Audubon Warbler, flitting through the trees.

Finally, I recommend Lincoln Park, which drapes itself over the South Hill off Southeast Blvd between 16th and 21st Ave. The lower section is very civilized, with playground equipment, picnic area, etc. and few birds. The hillside and the area above are more natural, with a parking lot and a walking track that circles a small pond. While I haven't been there recently, in the past I've seen everything from Song Sparrows, Juncos and Chickadees to Hairy Woodpeckers, Red Crossbills, and Merlins. It's worth a few minutes of your time after shopping at the stores in the nearby Lincoln Heights center.

 

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