Friends of Marymoor Park


What to see in December?


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In December, my wife often comments that it’s “a good day to be a duck”, and while she’s referring to the weather, this month is a good one for ducks at Marymoor. Twenty-two species of geese, swans, and ducks have been noted at Marymoor in December. Seasonal flooding may mean these birds are swimming in temporary ponds on fields throughout the park.

Other waterbirds are also around, including Common Loons, as many as four species of grebe, and Double-crested Cormorants. Shorebirds seen in December include Killdeer (mostly on grassy fields), Wilson’s Snipe (at the edges of the slough, around ponds, or in deep grass), and flocks of Dunlin (usually flying overhead or over the lake).

Yellow-rumped Warbler numbers peak in October and April, but a few linger through the dark winter months.

There are seven species of sparrow commonly seen in the winter – Spotted Towhee; Fox, Song, Lincoln’s, White-crowned, and Golden-crowned Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Junco. White-throated Sparrows may turn up amongst flocks of Golden-crowned Sparrows. A few Savannah Sparrows may still be lingering, though they typically clear out in November, not to return until March.

Large flocks of tiny Pine Siskins, making their “Zweeet” calls, may be seen flying overhead like tight swarms of confused insects, until suddenly, it will appear they’ve been sucked into the top of a tree. It’s as if someone turned on a giant vacuum cleaner.

December is not a good month for rarities to show up, as most birds are not on the move. Notable sightings have included Brant, Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, Red-necked Grebe, Dunlin, Western Scrub-Jay, and Swamp Sparrow. On December 31, 2012, a Snowy Owl flew high over the park.

Trumpeter Swan, 2012-12-21.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Common Raven harassing a SNOWY OWL, 2012-12-31.  Photo by Michael Hobbs

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