You don't have to travel far from Kirkland's downtown to catch a glimpse of some spectacular wildlife. Birders happily enjoy their favorite past time at Juanita Bay Park, a unique urban park where wildlife co-exists peacefully with city dwellers. The Eastside Park Rangers in affiliation with the Eastside Audubon Society offer interpretive tours the first Sunday and third Tuesday of every month. Every season gives nature lovers a chance to spot something new and wonderful. Come to Kirkland and see if you can spot the following birds.
Often mistaken for a duck, the American Coot is a common waterbird. Its all black body and white chicken-like beak distinguish this swimming rail from the real ducks. In order to become airborne, a coot must patter across the water, flapping its wings furiously. When an eagle flies over, they run across the water to gather in a tight ball for safety. From fall through spring, hundreds of coots are present in Juanita Bay.
Great Blue Heron
A familiar sight around water is the tall (46 inches), long-legged Great Blue Heron standing still as a statue or walking slowly in shallow water stalking its prey. The Great Blue has a grayish-blue body, white head with a black stripe over the eye, and a dagger-like yellow bill. The Great Blue Heron has a wingspan of 6 feet, similar to that of the Bald Eagle.
A common waterside resident throughout North America, the Belted Kingfisher is often seen hovering before it plunges headfirst into water to catch a fish. It frequently announces its presence by its loud rattling cry. After seizing a fish, the Belted Kingfisher returns to its perch and before eating, beats the fish on the limb, then tosses it into the air and swallows it headfirst.
A common ant-eating woodpecker of open areas, the Northern Flicker has two color forms found in different regions. The yellow-shafted form is common across the eastern and northern parts of North America, while the red-shafted form is the one found in the West. In spring, the male flicker drums on metal roofs or gutters to create a loud enough noise to attract a mate.
A small fish-eating duck of wooded ponds, the Hooded Merganser nests in holes in trees. It is frequently seen on shallow waters where its only waterfowl companion is the Wood Duck. Watch for the dramatic courtship displays of the males as they compete for the attentions of a female. They fan their crests, thrusting their heads back and seeming to rear out of the water.
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Juanita Bay Park abounds with flora and fauna and features views of Forbes Creek Wetland, Juanita Beach and Juanita Bay. Join Eastside Audubon for nature and bird interpretive walks.