Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe & Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest
May 10, 2024 – May 12, 2024
Join KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network) in May for the 25th Anniversary of the GISS & Bird Fest to discover the natural beauty of Central Washington State! The Yakima River Canyon is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) with some of the highest densities of passerines and birds of prey in the state.
The extensive cliffs, shrub-steppe, and riparian cottonwood forests provide a rich mixture of habitats. Particularly important are the immense basalt cliffs and talus slopes interspersed with shrub-steppe vegetation, which support a diverse assemblage of birds associated with this habitat, including White-throated Swift, Cliff Swallow, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, and 21 species of raptors. Ten of these raptor species breed in and around the canyon, including two pairs of Golden Eagles and five pairs of Prairie Falcons. The cliffs and shrub-steppe habitat also support dense populations of Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and Great Horned Owls. Up to 20 Bald Eagles winter along the river, subsisting primarily on whitefish. The riparian habitats along the river and its tributaries support a high diversity and abundance of bird species, including Lazuli Bunting, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Say’s Phoebe, Williamson’s Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cedar Waxing, Northern Spotted Owl, and American Pelican.