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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I identify a bird I saw?

Merlin Bird ID is an app you can use on your phone or computer that lets you narrow down the bird by region, color, size, and behavior. If you want something you can easily use in the field, we recommend Peterson or Sibley field guides, or the pocket guide Birds of the Puget Sound Region: Coast To Cascades, sold online or here at our Nature Shop.


Q: Where to Bird in Washington?

If you are new to birding in Washington, a great place to start is with the Great Washington State Birding Trail Maps, found on the Audubon website. We also have physical copies here at the Hess Center.


Popular birding parks in Pierce County include Titlow Beach & Park, Wapato Park, Waughop Lake at Fort Steilacoom Park, Adriana Hess Audubon Center, Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, Point Defiance Park, Dunes Peninsula Park along Ruston Way, Lake Spanaway, and Nathan Chapman Memorial Trail in Puyallup. 

Q: Where can I buy binoculars/optics for birding or wildlife viewing?

We do not carry optics in our Nature Shop. However, Wild Birds Unlimited of Gig Harbor does, and they will donate 5% of your sales purchase to Tahoma Bird Alliance if you mention you are a member! WBU also sells bird seed, feeders, and other outdoor birding and garden supplies.


Q: What should I feed birds?

Visit National Audubon Society's Bird Feeding Basics page for resources to help you get started feeding birds in your backyard! In most cases, sterile nyjer seed is a safe choice for attracting native songbirds.


Q: How do I sign up for field trips?

Check our "participate" tab on this website for the latest field trip information. We have regular monthly bird and nature walks around Pierce County.

Q: Are there any volunteer opportunities with Tahoma Bird Alliance?

You Bet! We depend on volunteers to help us connect people with nature and run the Adriana Hess Audubon Center. Volunteers may lead field trips, teach classes, serve as front desk staff, prepare mailings, write articles, testify at public hearings, fill the feeders, lead volunteer work parties, and serve on committees.


Priority open volunteer positions can be found online at: Volunteer Match - just search for Tahoma Bird Alliance. You can also stop by our Center to find out about opportunities. Chances are, we can find a volunteer opportunity for you that fits your personal skills, passions, and schedule.


Q: What Citizen Science Projects can I get involved with?

Our members contribute time, skills, and knowledge to several citizen science projects. Some are one time, others are recurring. Many are offered annually at a specific time of year. Most of these activities are free!

Here are a few we invite you to participate in:

Project FeederWatch (November-April)

Hummingbirds at Home NEW this spring, online and as an Android App!

Christmas Bird Count (December)

Great Backyard Bird Count (President's Day Weekend)

Q: How do I prevent birds from hitting my windows?

Bird collisions can be reduced through various measures such as feeder placement, window shades/drapes, decals, netting or films. The National Audubon's website has more information on minimizing window collisions.


Q: How can I detract birds from making nests or holes in my house?

WDFW maintains a page with species-specific information. Search for WDFW Preventing Conflicts with Wildlife.

Q: What should I do if I find a dead bird?

Tahoma Bird Alliance does not take, track or report dead birds. Various state agencies regulate and monitor bird deaths. To report dead birds and possible disease in Pierce County, call the department of health at 253-798-6578

To report dead waterfowl, shorebirds or raptors call WDFW at 1-800-606-8768


To report a dead bird that has a federal band or color marker on it's leg, contact USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center at 1-800-327-2263.

Q: Where can I report rare bird sightings?

Several hotlines exist for both reporting and learning about recent rare bird sightings. E-bird has rare bird alert tools for most regions and counties.


The Facebook group Washington Rare Bird Alert is small but active.


Birds Connect Seattle has a list of rare bird reporting and info lines, including emails and phone numbers.


You can also join University of Washington’s Tweeters email list--you don’t have to be a student to join!

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