Life in Grays Harbor comes alive in the spring, welcoming the returning migrations of animals in our waters, on our lands, and in our skies. In April and May, tens of thousands of gray whales swim along our coasts, and hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop along our beaches and estuaries, heading north for the summer. The great shorebird migration is part of a time-honored event in Grays Harbor, bringing in tourists from around the country in this mass migration to the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival at the Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge in Hoquiam.
During the first weekend in May, thousands of visitors from as far away as Oregon, California and Idaho flock to Grays Harbor to see the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds from as far away as South America. During the Shorebird Festival, 23 different species of shorebirds are seen making this migration each year, with the Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge serving as one of the amazing stops for resting and eating on their journey. The migration in Grays Harbor typically lasts only three weeks, but their arrival helps kick off spring.
“Each and every year, the Shorebird Festival is a lot of fun,” explains Shelia McCartan, the Education Coordinator for the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge and a member of the Shorebird Festival Planning committee. “The Shorebird Festival is really great celebration of a nature phenomenon in our backyard.”