Wings Over Willapa, a multi-day bird festival taking place in one of the richest bird destinations in North America, is slated for Sept. 26 through 29 at sites throughout Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, including the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

“Wings over Willapa is both a great introduction to birding and an ideal way for advanced birders to experience fall migration in this spectacular region,” said Dianne Fuller, event organizer, “The birding opportunities here are vast.”

Experts will lead bird identification walks in the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and teach classes ranging from beginning birding to bird friendly landscaping at key locations around the refuge, including Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco. Other highlights include a day-long pelagic boat trip to see species not normally seen from land; a guided tour to Long Island to an ancient old-growth Cedar Grove; an oyster industry outdoor classroom aboard an oyster boat; a small group birding tour with an oyster farm visit north of the peninsula; and a Nature Photography workshop. 

Participants might also register for a hands-on introduction to wildlife tracking, a 4X4 drive on the beach to Leadbetter Point, or take a trolley tour with stops up and down the Long Beach Peninsula. Art experiences will also be offered including drawing, beer painting, making garden flags, sea glass windows and pottery. For children, learning how to become a Junior Naturalist will be taught and activities such as face painting, bird nest box building and children’s dancing will be offered at the Cranberry Museum in Long Beach. 

Saturday evening’s big event includes a silent auction, dinner and drinks at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. Renowned ornithologist and urban ecologist John M. Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington, will deliver the keynote address “Welcome to Subirdia.” 

Bird walks, a bicycle adventure at the beach and sharing Willapa Bay Oyster Traditions will wrap up the events on Sunday. 

Registration and Visitor Information

Hosted by the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, the festival is free to the public. A no-fee registration is required with nominal fees charged for some of the classes. All children’s activities are free. For registration information and a schedule of events, please visit

For lodging, dining and other destination information, please access

Birding on the Long Beach Peninsula

Hundreds of species of birds nest or migrate through Pacific County. Highlighted species include snowy plover, pygmy owl, and peregrine falcon. More common sightings are of a number of gulls, bald eagle, brown pelican, sanderling and great blue heron. Seasonal sightings include trumpeter swan, snowy owl, dunlin, merlin, black bellied plover, and many more.

Designated sites of international significance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Willapa Bay and the Long Beach Peninsula boast many and varied habitats within a concentrated geographic region as well as relatively easy access to prize birding spots. Tidal mudflats, along with adjacent salt marshes, pastures, and outer beaches, provide large concentrations of shorebirds with diverse habitats that are critical for feeding and roosting. This region represents the largest remaining area of tidal mudflat habitat and coastal salt marsh habitat in southwestern Washington and the second largest estuary on the United States Pacific coast.


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