Written by Ian Paulsen
One of the best birding locations in southeastern Washington is the Asotin Slough, an open-country oasis in which birding time is always well spent. Situated on the banks of the Snake River, the Nature Conservancy-owned slough has accumulated a list of birds totaling at least 116 species. It has produced many local rarities and one state rarity, a Black-andwhite Warbler on 2 June 1987.
To reach the slough, drive from the Anatone highway junction in Asotin about 2miles SEalong Snake River Road. Watch for the only well-marked dirt driveway on the east (left) side of the road that leads to the slough’s parking lot. Nature Conservancy signs along the driveway confirm you are on the right road.
Check the deciduous woods adjoining the parking lot, then head south into the woodland looking for warblers and other passerines of this habitat during spring and summer. Great Horned Owls are occasionally found here, and swallows can be watched flying over the river. The river is good for ducks during winter.
From the end of the woodland, walk into the open field heading southwest toward another woodland patch. Birds of the open field include Ring-necked Pheasant, California Quail, Mourning Dove and various blackbirds: During winter large flocks of White-crowned Sparrows can be found here, accompanied by American Tree and Harris’ sparrows at times. The second woodlot has had Barred Owls in winter, and a small basalt cliff there occasionally has roosting Barn Owls. The basalt cliffs along the main road near this woodlot often contain Chukars, Rock Doves and Canyon Wrens. Return to the parking lot by retracing your route.