2022 Bird Surveys

Shorebird surveys at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge are conducted every few days during spring migration, mid-April through mid-May. The Refuge Biologist and Volunteers are positioned along the Sandpiper Trail for up to three hours before the predicted high tide and may not be able to answer questions while they are counting shorebirds.

This page will be updated regularly with survey results.

4/15/2022 Survey (10:40 am - 2:17 pm)

High tide around 1:16 p.m. at 9.69 ft inundated the intertidal flats and shorebirds tucked into the high marsh vegetation or roosted on posts, waiting for the tide to recede.

Species Count
Black-bellied Plover 14
Dunlin 190
Dowitcher spp. 8
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Marbled Godwit 2

Other highlights- ~500 ducks (mainly American Green-winged Teals, Northern Pintails, and Mallards), Sandhill Cranes (240 flew over refuge), Yellow-rumped Warblers (Mrytle and Audubon's), Marsh Wren, Song Sparrows, Caspian Terns, and Eagles.

Shorebirds on posts at high tide

4/18/2022 Survey (11:50 am - 2:45 pm)

Rain and wind made shorebird surveying difficult. High pressure system caused the tide to come in early. Tide was about 0.7 feet higher than predicted, leaving no mud at high tide (9.6 ft @ 3:42 pm).

Species Count
Western Sandpipers 7300
Dunlin 150
Black Bellied Plover 1
Greater Yellowlegs 2

Other highlights included warblers and 60 Greater White-fronted Geese.

4/22/22 (5:31 pm - 8:31 pm)

High tide (7.9 ft.) was at sunset. High tide was relatively low meaning lots of mudflat in Grays Harbor. Mini Moon Island had roosting habitat during the tide cycle, therefore, few birds came close to the boardwalk for good viewing. Despite few shorebirds, it was a wonderful evening to watch other wildlife as the sun was going down.

Species Count
Dunlin 73
Semipalmated Plovers 30
Black Bellied Plover 2
Whimbrels 3
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Least Sandpiper 1

4/25/22 ( 7:25 am - 11:30 am )

High tide (8.6 ft.) at 9:25 am. The morning was gorgeous as there was no wind. ~2000 shorebirds (mainly Western Sandpipers and Dunlins) were feeding on the mudflat. As the tide came in, shorebirds moved close to the boardwalk for good views. About 45 minutes after high tide, thousands of hungry birds came in to feast on the freshly exposed mudflat. A peregrine falcon visited several times. Eight Bald Eagles were seen eating a carcass (possibly a harbor seal) on Mini Moon Island.

Species Count
Total Shorebirds 9,250
Dunlin 3500
Western Sandpiper 2900
Semipalmated Plovers 300
Black Bellied Plover 33
Whimbrels 7
Yellowlegs spp 2
Least Sandpiper 10
Dowitcher spp 2
Unknown spp (on Mini Moon Island) 2500


Day was overcast with showers, occassional sun breaks. Not terribly windy. High tide was 9.1 at 1:25 pm.

Species Count
Dunlin 4220
Western Sandpiper 6330
Semipalmated Plovers 310
Black Bellied Plover 28
Whimbrels 3
Yellowlegs spp 3
Least Sandpiper 28
Dowitcher spp 7
Long Billed Curlew 2
Red Knot 1
Unknown spp Mini Moon Island 3000
Peregrine Falcon 2
Bald Eagle 2

5/1/22 (12:45 pm - 4:45 pm)

High Tide (9.0 ft.) at 2:53 pm. Sunday was a wonderful day for shorebird viewing, several visitors were out on the boardwalk enjoying a mild spring day. The tides pushed the shorebirds onto the high marsh, dense flocks of Western Sandpipers and Dunlin huddled together waiting for the mudflats to reappear. As the tide receded, the birds had a feeding frenzy and appeared more birds showed up after high tide. Total estimate ~12,700 shorebirds.

Species Count
Dunlin 5300
Western Sandpiper 6400
Semipalmated Plovers 140
Black Bellied Plover 14
Yellowlegs spp 4
Least Sandpiper 3, likely more
Dowitcher spp 1
Unknown spp Mini Moon Island 850

5/3/22 (2:30 pm - 6:15 pm)

High Tide (8.5 ft.) at 16:15. Another excellent afternoon for viewing shorebirds. Birds were feeding on the mudflat until a peregrine falcon came in and snatched a meal. Visitors watched the falcon eat the shorebird and a distant stump on the mudflat. The presence of falcon flushed all the birds at high tide. About 30 minutes later, thousands of shorebirds returned to the mudflat. Highlights included 18 black-bellied plovers near the boardwalk and ~80 Caspian Terns diving for fish. Shorebird diversity was low with 5 species; however, the overall number of shorebirds was high at ~14,300. Visitors noted that the day before appeared to have even more birds.

Species Count
Dunlin 5500
Western Sandpiper 6800
Semipalmated Plovers 315
Black Bellied Plover 18
Least Sandpiper 1, likely more
Unknown spp Mini Moon Island 1700

5/5/22 (3:39 pm - 6:59 pm )

High Tide was ~0.5 ft. higher than predicted (7.9) at 5:39 pm. Lots of rain during the survey. After the rain stopped, the wind picked up. Whitecaps were present at high tide and caused enough disturbance to clear off roosting birds that generally remain on Mini Moon Island during a lower tide. An estimated 8500 shorebirds came to the Refuge's mudflat for feeding and sanctuary. Other highlights include a bald eagle capturing a crow and four river otters foraging on the mudflat! Despite the cold, rainy weather, it's always a treat to visit the Refuge as you never know what you will see.

Species Count
Dunlin 2950
Western Sandpiper 5450
Semipalmated Plover 60
Black Bellied Plover 33
Dowitcher spp 7
Yellowlegs spp 7
Whimbrel 4

5/9/22- (06:30 am - 08:40 am)

High Tide (7.7 ft) at 07:35 am. The late migrating Red Knots showed up! Over 500 were observed from the boardwalk. Today's survey also produced the highest number of birds for the season! Total shorebirds ~25,700! There were also 256 Caspian Terns, several dive-bombing into the water, catching fish for breakfast.

Species Count
Dunlin 9,400
Western Sandpiper 15,500
Red Knots 518
Semipalmated Plover 285
Black Bellied Plover 1
Least Sandpiper 4
Whimbrel 3
Peregrine Falcon 1

5/11/22 (8:05 am - 11:15 am)

High tide (7.9 ft.) at 10:03 am. Overall bird numbers are decreasing. Nine species were observed for a total of 2300 shorebirds. Tide was low, and many larger shorebird species (Black-bellied plovers, Red Knots, and Whimbrels) were observed on distant Mini Moon Island. Some knots came to visit near the boardwalk after high tide.

Species Count
Dunlin 200
Western Sandpiper 1,100
Red Knots 165
Semipalmated Plover 330
Black Bellied Plover 24
Dowitcher spp 3
Yellowlegs spp 3
Marbled Godwit 1
Caspian Tern 196
Unknown shorebirds on Mini Moon Island 500

GH Shorebird Survey 5/13/22 (10:03 am - 1:03 pm)

High Tide (8.7 ft.) at 12:02 pm. A majority of the shorebirds have passed through, but viewing opportunities still exist. The tide was perfect today! The tide was high enough to clear of roosting birds on Mini Moon Island. Black-bellied plovers, Red Knots, a Dowitcher, Whimbrels, and the usual Western Sandpipers and Dunlins were all close to the boardwalk! A Peregrine Falcon caught a Western Sandpiper just a 100 feet from viewing area. Total Estimate- 1000 shorebirds.

Species Count
Dunlin 215
Western Sandpiper 700
Red Knots 13
Semipalmated Plover 31
Black Bellied Plover 11
Dowitcher spp 1
Yellowlegs spp 1
Whimbrel 11
Unknown shorebirds on Mini Moon Island 140

5/16/22 (12:30 pm - 3:45 pm)

High Tide (9.4 ft.) at 2:45 pm. Last survey of the season! Most shorebirds have passed through the Refuge; however, there were some lingering birds. Total shorebirds were 50. The tide was very high today. Mini Moon Island was underwater, and all of Bowerman Basin was inundated. Whimbrels and Black-bellied Plovers roosted on driftwood, waiting for the tide to recede.

Species Count
Black-bellied Plover 8
Semi-palmated Plover 2
Western Sandpiper 13
Dowitcher spp. 1
Whimbrel 13

Shorebirds on driftwood

Previous Year's Bird Surveys

2021 shorebird survey results

2019 shorebird survey results

2018 shorebird survey results

2017 shorebird survey results

2016 shorebird survey results

Citizen Science Bird Observations

eBird is a resource used by an international community of birders to share observations, birding "hotspots", and migratory patterns. This could be referenced as migration occurs to see what patterns and species are being observed. eBird is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Grays Harbor NWR on eBird