Our Mission 

Puget Sound Bird Observatory studies birds and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest to better understand changes in bird populations, to inform decision makers, and to engage the public with birds and their needs.




Current Projects        



fox sparrow by Elaine Chuang

 Puget Sound Bird Observatory is continuing its multi-year habitat study of wintering Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca spp. unalaschensis), (FOSP) at Shoreline Community College (SHCC) and in the surrounding greenbelt areas owned by the City of Shoreline. Learn more…



Our Weekender Bander Class  in August 2017

last day of class grinning

last day of class —

was a huge success!   76 birds were banded or recaptured with lots of variety, including a female Western Tanager, a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and a really cute young Pacific Wren.

showing bander's grip on stuffed bird

showing bander’s grip on stuffed bird

Explaining how to use the Pyle Guide

Explaining how to use the Pyle Guide,

Ten students participated in our summer beginner’s banding course at the Willow Creek Hatchery in Edmonds, Washington where on-site native plant gardens and the nearby Edmonds Marsh support a variety of resident and migrating birds.

Instruction followed the North American Banding Council (NABC) guidelines.

Five full days of classroom/field instruction gave students the opportunity to safely extract birds from mist-nets, proper banding techniques and the accurate collection and documentation of data.








Last years’s was a great success!  12 students,  62 birds removed from the nets  (some were recaptures from last year!)

We had a Brown Creeper, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Steller’s Jays, Bewick’s Wrens,  Juncos, Song Sparrows, and both Chestnut-backed  Chickadees and lots of Black-capped Chickadee.  Great selection, and practice with different sizes of birds, bands, and types of birds.



Training classes for our Secretive Wetland Bird Monitoring will be given again in the spring 

Last year was our pilot year of our Secretive Wetland Bird Monitoring .   Over 65 surveys at over 35 locations….  We are collecting location data on four secretive wetland birds:

American Bittern adult                             American Bittern, juvie

American BitternAMBI Rockybynorthwestnaturalimagerydotcom   

Juvenile green herons Green Heron juvies times three



                                  Virginia Rail
VIRA Winston Rocky Rockwell www.northwestnaturalimagery.comsora_stephenparsonsSora  Stephen Parsons

Surveys were conducted over the following  survey windows   last year      

     May 5-8, 2017,    May 19-22, 2017      and   June 9-12, 2017

Your participation is appreciated whether you only select a single survey site or choose to do multiple sites across all of the survey windows.  You choose what works best for you.


What is Citizen Science?  And are you already a Citizen Scientist (and just didn’t recognize your value)?

A Citizen Scientist is anyone who observes  (birds) and reports what they see, while not being paid to do so.  Many people are reluctant to think that their bird watching and/or bird feeding is actually a form of Citizen Science!

Do you tell /post  other people which birds you have seen, and where you have seen them?  If so, you are already performing a needed resource—you are providing information that can be used scientifically for the benefit of birds, the habitats they use, and when they use them.  You could literally help save a migration stop-over by documenting that location’s usage.

Citizens who take the time, and make the effort to share these data (even one or two reports may fill in needed information) are helping supply data that trained scientists can add to their study and analysis.

The best example of Citizen Science is the annual Christmas Bird Count, now in its 114 year.

The data collected by Christmas Bird Count participants over the years provide a wealth of information to researchers interested in the long-term study of early winter bird populations across North America. This data has been/is used by U.S. federal agencies as an important basis for making decisions about birds.

The value of the work that Christmas Bird Count observers have contributed has become embraced by ornithologists and conservationists.

” To date over 200 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data. ” (For more info about the value of data submitted by local viewers/Citizen Scientists, go to

We at PSBO often ask for citizen science volunteers for our projects.  We need people who watch for color-banded birds; for specific species in specific locations.  We often have volunteers help with surveys of the Skagit raptors; or who help with the Breeding Bird Surveys.   We frequently teach classes for the different surveys to make the data even more specific and scientific.


PSBO leads banding studies in order to study birds which use this area either as residents or during migration and/or breeding.  PSBO also plays a key role in training professional and citizen scientists on proper banding techniques. PSBO follows the North American Birding Council’s “ The Bander’s Code of Ethics”   during all their banding activities. We pass along our scientific data to interested local groups and decision makers.

      Call for resightings of color banded raptors in Skagit County and surrounding areas

Red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and merlins have been banded with coded color leg bands. Red-tailed hawks have been banded with blue bands engraved with 1 or 2 digit white numbers. American kestrels and merlins have been banded with red bands engraved with 2 digit white numbers. Bands are read either vertically (from foot upwards) or horizontally (left to right).

If you spot one of these banded birds, please report to Ben Vang-Johnson at (206) 276-1095 noting band color, number code, bird species, date, and specific location (such as a street address, intersection, or GPS coordinates). Even partial information on band code will be useful. Report a sighting by email or learn more about the project on the project page.

Skagit Flats Wintering Raptors

This project investigates winter site fidelity within year and across years, winter population trends and relative abundance, and winter demographics of the winter raptor population on the Skagit Flats, Skagit County, Washington using road surveys, color banding, and re-sighting methods. Learn more…


Small Owl Nest Box Project:

Populations of Western Screech Owls and Northern Saw Whet Owls have been in decline. One of the contributing factors may be fewer natural tree cavities preventing successful reproduction. The goal of this project is to provide safe alternatives to tree cavities by installing nest boxes specifically sized for Western Screech Owls and Northern Saw Whet Owls.. Learn more…


MAPS Monitoring at Morse Wildlife Preserve: The MAPS (Monitoring Avian Survivorship) program is a network of 500+ banding stations across North America which follow a standardized constant-effort mist-netting protocol in order to study the relationship between bird productivity (number of young), survivorship (how long they live) and continent-wide fluctuations in bird populations. PSBO is currently operating a MAPS stations at the Morse Wildlife Preserve. Learn more…


Birds Wintering in Urban Landscapes: “Birds Wintering in Urban Landscapes” focuses on how urban Puget Sound supports the songbirds that spend the winter here.  This project involves color-banding Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos and Fox Sparrows in backyards and parks in several study sites around greater Seattle, then re-sighting to answer important questions regarding urban winter habitat important use, breeding populations, and the role of backyards, parks, and invasive plants. No current banding is scheduled for 2014, but there are still color-banded chickadees and juncos to report as being seen. Learn more…

The Puget Sound Bird Observatory welcomes suggestions for local bird studies.



Bander Training Program: PSBO offers a tiered training program to guide interested volunteers from novice to experienced bander.

How to correctly run a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS):  PSBO’s Don Norman teaches participants how to correctly run a BBS by increasing their skills ID’ing breeding bird calls and songs.

Visit our training page for information and schedules.


Upcoming Outings and Events

We lead a twice-annual field-trip to monitor migrating seabirds, and many of our members help with a number of surveys led by other groups.

Looking for a speaker? PSBO Board Members frequently give talks at local bird fests, neighborhood garden tours,  and interested organizations.

About Puget Sound Bird Observatory

The Puget Sound Bird Observatory is an organization dedicated to studying and informing the public about Washington’s birds. A group of bird-banders hatched the idea during long volunteer hours banding birds at monitoring sites. Our vision grew to encompass an organization that identifies gaps in our knowledge about local birds, mobilizes and trains people to collect data to address the gaps, and provides the results both to the general public and to land managers.

We envision an organization that can bridge the space between the resource management and monitoring efforts of the state government, the research efforts of our academic institutions, the public outreach of our Audubon Societies, and a motivated birding public. This concept evolved into our motto:

Sound Science  (provides)– Scientific Information (leads to)– Informed Public

PSBO is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, EIN: 65-1315727