Best time to travel to Washington

Snow Goose Migration in Washington

More than 50,000 birds stop over at Skagit Valley in western Washington every fall

Best time: October–early March | best November

Snow Goose Migration
Snow Goose Migration
Snow geese in northwestern Washington

Skagit Delta is one of the major wintering grounds for waterfowl in North America. The most numerous bird population that winters in the valley is snow goose. In recent years, their annual count in Washington often exceeds 50,000. Birding enthusiasts and nature photographers can observe giant flocks of geese creating spectacular displays against the green grass and mountains on the backdrop.

Every fall, geese travel impressive 3,000 miles (4,828 km) from their nesting grounds on Wrangel Island in Russia to Skagit Valley, arriving in early October. About 12,000 birds spend the whole winter in Skagit valley and leave in early spring. The rest of the snow geese head further south, to California's Central Valley, to spend winter months there.

Flocks of winter snow geese is a premier bird-watching experience in Washington. During the season, Skagit Valley offers Snow Geese Eco Tours for beginner and advanced birders. You can spend a few hours looking at geese, ducks, and shorebirds that overwinter in Anacortes, Fidalgo Island, and Skagit Valley. Additionally, to celebrate the waterfowl season Skagit Wildlife Area holds the annual Winter Birds Festival every February. A similar festival also takes place on Whidbey and Camano Islands. Port Susan Snow Goose & Birding Festival is held in mid-February with lots of special events and nature walks around the islands.

Practical info

What is the best season to see snow geese in Skagit Valley?

Witness the spectacular presentation of over 50,000 snow geese in Washington's Skagit Valley from October to early March. November is the migration peak season, giving bird enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to see the geese. The snow geese's magnificent display is a sight to behold. Show more

How many snow geese usually migrate to Skagit Valley, Washington?

Annual counts of over 50,000 snow geese are often recorded in Washington state, with around 12,000 spending winter in the Skagit Valley. The rest of these magnificent birds fly to the Central Valley in California to spend the winter. Skagit Valley's wintering geese are a marvel to behold and one of the most incredible natural events in North America. Show more

Where do the snow geese come from before arriving at Skagit Valley?

Skagit Valley, the perfect warm and cozy environment for snow geese, is where they visit from Wrangel Island. The geese cover a long distance of 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) to enjoy these winter grounds. These birds have a lush back drop of green grass and mountains to see, making bird watching more spectacular. Show more

What events are held during the Winter Birds Festival?

It's time to celebrate the winter waterfowl season with the Winter Birds Festival. From naturalist-led nature walks to seminars by renowned ornithologists, bird enthusiasts are sure to have a blast. There's also the opportunity to learn how to spot, identify and photograph the birds along with educational activities such as wildlife restoration projects and birdhouse building. Show more

Where are the Snow Geese Eco Tours offered in Skagit Valley?

If you're a birder, then Skagit Valley's Snow Geese Eco Tours is perfect for you. The tours run in Anacortes, Fidalgo Island and Skagit Valley where beginner and advanced birders can spot different bird species such as ducks and shorebirds that vacation in the valley. The tour also allows visitors to learn about wildlife preservation, winter ecology and the unique county bird culture. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen