Wildlife on Orcas Island-viewing begins while waiting for the ferry. There are sea gulls, cormorants, Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, grebes and harbor seals in the bay and American Bald Eagles riding the wind currents as your journey to Orcas Islands begins.
Sweet bird songs abound in the vegetation that runs parallel to the parking lot. When on the ferry check out the pilings as the ferry pulls away from the Anacortes ferry dock for the “cormorant condos.” The cormorants have discovered that the dock is a perfect nesting area for them. Pelagic seabirds can be seen bobbing in the
water as well as seals, dolphins and on occasion, orca whales. The ferry route through Rosario Strait is a major migration path for seabirds. Always have your binoculars and camera ready; besides the wildlife you might see beautiful snow covered Mt. Baker in the distance, an assortment of sail and recreational boats, the US Coast Guard and other ferries on their island routes.
Orcas Island has an abundance of Black-tailed deer so be mindful while driving to your destination; they can cross the road right in front of you. Riding the wind currents and soaring overhead you can see occasional American Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures. To identify them high in the sky remember that the wings and body of the Turkey Vultures appear V-shaped, the wings of American Bald Eagle look straight across from one wing tip to the other.
Crescent Beach, just past Eastsound Village on the way to Moran State Park, is a good spot for bird watching. You can see Bufflehead Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Scoters, Great Blue Herons, Artic Terns, Belted Kingfishers just to name a few depending on the season. Pacific Blackbirds, and a variety of sea gulls can be on the beach
as well as a pair of Black Oystercatchers with long yellow legs and a long red bill. Be sure to keep your distance, the Oyster Catcher nests on the beach in the rocks and disturbance of their territory can be disastrous for their eggs or young.
Wildlife does abound on Orcas Island. You could see Trumpeter Swans in the winter, and year around a chance glimpse of river otters in the lakes and ponds or just crossing the road as they search for fish. Ducks, birds and waterfowl can always be seen…….. mink, beaver, and raccoons too. A wildlife cruise offers an opportunity to see Stellar Sea Lions, Orca, Humpback or Minke whales, porpoise, seals, American Bald Eagles and their nests depending on luck that day. Wildlife is unpredictable so there are no guarantees; you can be assured that the scenery will be spectacular.