An island in the Columbia River that attracts migrant songbirds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls, plus many breeding species in summer.
By Lori Wollerman Nelson and Lisa Hill | Published: 4/18/2016
We bird Bateman Island regularly because the diversity of habitats attracts a wide range of birds, from ducks and geese to warblers and finches. Located near the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, the island, a city park, has upland, riparian, and aquatic habitats.
Birding is good during winter at Bateman, but it’s even better during spring and fall migration. Birds change from week to week and even day to day — no two trips are the same.
On a Saturday morning last September, we joined about 20 other birders on the island. A weather front had passed through the previous night, bringing much-needed rain and (we hoped) migrant birds. Soon we were in the middle of mixed flocks of songbirds. Wilson’s, Nashville, Orange-crowned, Townsend’s, and Yellow-rumped Warblers moved through the willows and Russian olive trees, accompanied by vireos, flycatchers, and kinglets. Predators were in great supply as well — we spied a Merlin, a Cooper’s Hawk, a pair of Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a resident Great Horned Owl during our walk. — Lori Wollerman Nelson and Lisa Hill
Lori Wollerman Nelson is the president of the Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society. Lisa Hill is an artist who leads monthly bird walks on Bateman Island.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Mixed shrubs and grasses, scattered groves of trees, riparian areas, mudflats, beaches.
Flat paved multi-use trail along river near causeway; gravel or hard-packed earthen trails on island.
Year-round: Bewick’s Wren, Black-billed Magpie, accipiters, Great Horned Owl, Virginia Rail. Spring and fall: migrant songbirds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. Summer: Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, six species of swallow, terns, gulls, wading birds, and American White Pelican. Winter: gulls, grebes, raptors, ducks, geese, sparrows, kinglets, towhees, wrens, and thrushes. Uncommon in winter: Fox Sparrow, Clark’s Grebe, Glaucous Gull, and Peregrine Falcon. Recent rarities: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Sabine’s Gull.
When to go
Best from August to early June.
2.8 miles of trails. Morning bird walks on first Saturday of the month, September through June, led by Lower Columbia Basin Audubon. Picnic tables in Wye Park near parking area. Restrooms open May to October.
City park. Admission free. Open 5-11. Accessible by bicycle along the Sacagawea Heritage Trail and by bus (Ben Franklin Transit). Free parking.
Early morning is best, as the area is popular with dog-walkers and fishermen. A scope is useful for nearby mudflats and open water.
For more info
W.E. Johnson Park
On Swift Blvd., seven miles northwest of island. Upland and riparian area; good for migrant and resident songbirds.
25 miles to the northwest, in Benton County. The south slope has shrub-steppe habitat home to Sagebrush Sparrow and Sage Thrasher.