Thing to Do

Birdwatching at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

A blue and grey scrub jay sitting on a white railing.
California Scrub Jay showing off his winter colors at the Bandstand.

NPS Photo / E. Roeder

In the midst of urban Vancouver, Washington, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is a great place to watch birds! As you walk through this national park, take a moment and listen. You're guaranteed to hear songs and calls from different species of birds. At sunrise and sunset, listen for the call of owls. In the spring and fall, watch for migratory birds from California, Alaska, Mexico and Canada, who rest here before continuing their journey. On the national park's waterfront, keep an eye out for different waterfowl, gull, shorebird, and grebe species. 

Learn more about birdwatching, or birding, at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on this page!


Getting Started


Learn more about birdwatching for beginners here. If you are a beginner to birding, you may want to check out the Cornell Lab Merlin Bird ID app. This app makes identifying birds based on their location, color, behavior, and size much easier. Don't have access to a smartphone? Check out the Friends of Fort Vancouver bookstore at the Visitor Center to purchase a bird guide.

First time to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site? Start planning your visit here.


Top 3 Birdwatching Spots at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site


Robins hop through the Fort Vancouver Garden. Scrub jays call out from tall trees. Swallows swoop around the Great Meadow. Birds are all around at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site! Here are a few of our favorite places to spot our feathered friends:
 
  • The Garden: Find a bench in the shade and watch for birds in the beautiful Fort Vancouver Garden. 
  • The Parade Ground and Great Meadow: The Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground and its adjacent Great Meadow have large, grassy fields and tall trees that birds love!
  • The Columbia River Waterfront: This area of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has lush trees and access to the Columbia River.
Find a map of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site here.


Bird Species at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Click here to download a Fort Vancouver National Historic Site bird checklist


Using this checklist and a bird guide of your choice, see how many you can spot!


When to Birdwatch at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site


You can see birds at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site all year round. The checklist above helps tell you when birds might be present at the national park.
 
Status Present at the park:
Breeding Spring and summer
Nonbreeding residents Fall, winter, spring
Permanent residents Winter, spring, summer, fall
Migrant Spring and fall
Rare/Accidental Winter, spring, summer fall

 
Details
We don't recommend that you bring your pets while you're birdwatching. Pets can startle or chase birds, making this activity difficult.

If you do bring a pet to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, please bag and dispose of pet waste and keep your pet on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Learn more about bringing pets to the national park here.
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Birds can be spotted in many places at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and the surrounding areas. The best place to see birds at the park is in the trees, meadows, and along the waterfront.The best place to see birds at the park is in the trees, meadows, and along the waterfront.
Every season allows visitors to enjoy birding; however, some seasons will have a wider variety of birds. During spring and fall migration is a great time see birds from other parts of North America, as they make their journey to their new home. Summer will provide visitors the opportunity to see birds in their summer plumage. Winter will have the most limited amount of species to see, however, there are still a variety of permanent residents that live at the park.
Accessibility Information
Birdwatching can be done in many areas of the park, from the paved Park Road to trails paved with decomposed granite. More intrepid birdwatchers can cross grassy areas, sometimes with uneven ground, to the Great Meadow and Parade Ground. Learn more about visiting Fort Vancouver National Historic Site here. For specific questions, contact us at (360) 816-6230.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Last updated: January 29, 2021