Seaside may be a small town, but it’s a big destination for birds, and as a result, birdwatchers hitting nearby spots on the Oregon Coast Birding Trail. More than 300 species of birds either live here year-round or visit in the spring or autumn on their travels along the Pacific Flyway migratory route. With such varied ecosystems — the ocean, an estuary, fresh and saltwater ponds, wetlands, grassy dunes and forest — your birding experience is sure to be rich and diverse.
Click here for birding tips, including GPS coordinates to each of the spots below.
Best for Families
Mill Ponds consists of two ponds — one freshwater and one tidal-influenced — that attract birds throughout the year. In the spring, look for brightly colored, neo-tropical migrants, such as Wilson’s warblers, orange-crowned warblers and warbling vireos, which feed on insects and nectar plants; in the winter, you’ll find ospreys and sparrows in addition to migrant harlequin and wood ducks. The short trail is flat and family-friendly. To get to Mill Ponds, take Highway 101 to Avenue S and then to Alder Mill Road, where you can park at the end of the street.
Best for Paddlers
Kayaking is one of the best ways to observe migratory shorebirds in the Necanicum Estuary, where the Necanicum River meets the Pacific Ocean. During April and September, look for Western sandpipers, whimbrels, semipalmated plovers, dunlins and long-billed curlews. Other frequent visitors include great blue herons, greater yellowlegs, and various ducks. For more on kayaking in Seaside, click here.
You can also access the estuary on foot from North Gateway Park. Parking is available just north of Java Reef Coffee (2674 Highway 101).
Best for Beach Lovers
On the southern end of Seaside along the beach next to the rocky headland, you’ll discover Seaside Cove. While you enjoy the waves lapping the shore, look for common murres, pigeon guillemots and pelagic cormorants. Parking is available along Sunset Boulevard.
Best for Hikers
A hike on the Tillamook Head Trail combines birding with the best views of storied Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. You’ll spot Wilson’s and Hermit warblers, Spotted towhees and maybe even Northern Saw-whet owls. Start at the parking area for Elmer Feldheimer Forest Preserve at the end of Sunset Boulevard. For more on this hike and views of “Terribly Tilly,” click here.
Before you set out, review Seaside’s birding etiquette.
Above photo by Veronica Russell for the Seaside Visitors Bureau