Top 10 Endangered Birds Of The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is most well known for its glorious coastline, luscious green meadows, and tall mountains, and within all of this stunning nature is a wide variety of wildlife. It is thought that there are around 400 different species of birds within the Pacific Northwest alone.

Although, some of these birds are listed as either endangered or threatened by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Some of the reasons why these bird species are endangered is due to a loss of habitat, deforestation, and sometimes even poisoning.

There are quite a lot of rare birds in the pacific northwest that are really hard to see in the wild due to their smaller numbers. Thankfully, there are lots of efforts taking place that are dedicated to raising the numbers of these endangered bird species by breeding them in shelters.

Hopefully, one day in the future, these birds can be taken off of the endangered species list, and we will be able to see many more of them in their natural habitats. However, we are a long way away from seeing this happening.

It is really important to be aware of the birds that are on the endangered species list, and we are going to provide you with a list of the top 10 endangered birds of the Pacific Northwest in this article.

Marbled Murrelets

Marbled Murrelets  are a small type of seabird that has pointed wings and quite large heads. The name marbled actually refers to the marbled brown and blue in their plumage.

White marbled murrelets will spend the majority of their time at sea, and this is where they will swim underwater to find food. They will come back up to the shore to build their nests, breed, and settle. 

Marbled murrelets will usually settle at the old forests in the Pacific Northwest, but unfortunately, the aggressive industrial logging in this area has led to this species becoming endangered.

They are unable to live in fragmented forests, which is why their population has been declining in Washington particularly. These birds have declined by 30% since 1992.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagles are quite large solitary birds with wings that can expand to 6.5 feet. They are mostly brown in color, but they do have a golden nape, and they also have small heads with large, hooked bills.

The conversion of wild land into agricultural land and human harassment is what has led these birds to land themselves on the endangered species list. The population of golden eagles has significantly declined

Western Snowy Plover

The western snowy plover is a lesser known species that breeds along the Pacific coast. They are small shorebirds that have protruding bellies and darker brown or grey plumage on their napes and heads.

Their forage is typically made up of invertebrate and river gravel bars, and their breeding season is between March and September, which is when they will lay their eggs in shallow sand. 

Things like human intervention, predation, and loss of nesting habitats has meant that the reproduction of these birds is very low. This is why they are an endangered species, and in 2007, a recovery plan was created to stabilize the population.

Sandhill Crane

Although this is the most abundant crane in the world, the sandhill crane is very rare in Washington State, and they have a low reproduction rate. Their breeding habitats are constantly decreasing, and they are mostly privately owned. 

These birds are very distinct with their strong and long legs, necks, and bills, and they feature grey plumage with hints of rusty red. These birds create throaty trumpeting sounds that are so loud that they can be heard from more than 2.5 miles away.

Sandhill cranes prefer wetland habitats that are surrounded by trees and shrubs, and in Washington, they will head towards wetlands. Interestingly, these birds will cover themselves in mud to camouflage them during breeding season, and they will always come back to the same nesting spot for breeding.

Brown Pelican

The Brown Pelican is a type of bird that likes to stick to coastal areas around the Pacific Coast, so they can stay near water. When it nears their breeding season, they tend to move towards the north.

These birds have large bills that help them get food, and they usually have white heads. They also feature dark brown and yellow feathers along their neck and wings. They tend to nest on grounds, cliffs, and low trees.

However, these areas were exposed to mass pesticide contamination in the 1960s, which meant that their population declined. This was mostly down to the use of DTT, which was banned in 1972, and the population is gradually rising again today.

Canada Goose

Canadian geese travel in a V shaped parade and make excellent honking sounds as they migrate in the winter and fall months. When spring comes around again, they will head back to the north so they can nest and breed.

These birds have particularly heavy bodies, as well as short legs and long necks. Their necks are black with a white chinstrap, and the rest of their plumage is grey and brown in color.

Some people consider these birds a nuisance due to their presence at the beach, and tried to limit their presence at the beach by relocating and shaking their eggs. Unfortunately, this human intervention is what has caused these birds to become endangered.

Greater Sage-Grouse

The greater sage ground is a heavy type of ground bird that is actually the biggest grouse in all of North America. They have small heads and pointed tails, and they are mostly gray/brown in color, apart from the big white patch on their collars.

These birds feed on sagebrush, which is why they mostly stay near shrub and meadow steppe habitats. They typically nest on the ground, and they don’t usually migrate.

They used to have a large population, especially in Washington, until they were listed as threatened in 1997. Hunting and agricultural land expansion is what is responsible for the now lower population.

Today, there are now only around 1500 of these birds. In existence.

Northern Spotted Owl

If you do manage to see a northern spotted owl, it will be sure to stand out from the crowd with its large black eyes. These birds have short tails, and unlike various other owls, they are quite docile in nature. Although, they are still nocturnal, and they do feed on other small mammals and rodents.

The Northern Spotted Owl is classed as a medium sized bird, and they have dark brown feathers with white spots on them. They do not migrate, but they do love to be surrounded by old-growth forests.

You will typically be able to find them in areas like Western Oregon, Washington, Northwestern California, as well as southwestern British Columbia.

Unfortunately, due to consistent logging, the forests that these owls know and love are diminishing. Spotted owls were listed as a threatened species in 1990. The saddest thing about this is that this is a species that allows for a healthy ecosystem, but industrial domination has sadly destroyed the majority of their habitats.

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a bird that is often mistaken for a buteo due to its large size. They are actually the largest of the accipiter family, and they sport dark grey back feathers and white or light grey feathers on their chests and bellies. They can easily be told apart from beteos due to the white line over its red eyes.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service considers these birds to be a species of concern, and they also suffer the consequences of the logging of forest trees. While they are not classed as endangered yet, they easily could be if things continue as they are.

Northern Goshawks do not migrate, and they usually settle in coniferous forests, on the edges of forests, or on mid-level slopes. They do sometimes move lower down in the winter.

California Condor

The California Condor is actually the biggest land bird in the entirety of North America with an impressive wingspan of 9.5 inches. It is known that these birds originally bred in Oregon, unlike what their name would suggest. They were officially listed as an endangered species in 1973, and there were only 22 of these birds alive by 1987.

They are entirely black apart from the yellow patches under their wings, and when they are flying, you will be able to see the finger-like ends of their wings.

California’s condor recovery program is responsible for saving these birds from complete extinction by creating a special breeding facility for them. They were reintroduced into the wild in 1992. The main threats to their survival are lead poisoning from the animals they eat, and micro trash, like small plastic


The Pacific Northwest is full of rare and endangered birds, and it is really important to be aware of the current issues that are contributing towards the extinction of beautiful bird species.