Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Start a family nature adventure with a visit to Seward Park Audubon Center



For the hundreds of elementary school students who take field trips to the Seward Park Audubon Center, the 300-acre park is their outdoor classroom for a day, sideways-rain or shine.

What’s their favorite part?

“Everyone likes to go where the owls regurgitate the owl pellets,” says Joey Manson, the center’s director.

If they find one, the naturalist with them brings out a hand lens and a tray and dissects the owl pellet right there. It can be a little gross – pellets found in the wild, unlike pellets found in the store, can harbor worms and bugs among the hair and bones the owl regurgitated – but it’s a crowd-pleaser. At the end, they place any mouse or vole skulls on a nearby burl.

“People call it the ‘owl altar,’” Manson says.

Housed in a Tudor-style building near the park entrance, the Seward Park Audubon center has a lot to attract bird enthusiasts of all ages. Eight different bird feeders dangle from nearby trees around the entrance and windows. A white-board relays reports of wildlife seen in the park: active beavers and a wandering coyote. You can buy books and supplies in the ground-floor shop, ask for recommended trails to try, and even borrow binoculars.

And then there are the programs for nature lovers of all ages.

“Toddler Tales and Trails,” a recurring program for kids aged 2 to 5 and their caregivers, starts with a storytime in the center’s old-fashioned library. The taxidermically stuffed birds on the shelves next to the books inevitably trigger questions, Manson says.

“Are they alive?” someone small invariably asks, and then Manson checks the faces of nearby parents wondering, “Do you want to handle it or do you want me to handle it?”

After the story, there’s an art activity and then an expedition outside.

Older kids enjoy some of the birding outings, particularly the “Morning Tweets and Treats” programs, which start with coffee, tea, cocoa and Delite Bakery donuts, at the distinctly non-hard-core time of 10 a.m.

“When we started changing the time we started to see a lot more family participation,” Manson says.

Another big hit with families: the center’s Owl Prowls, which have people heading out at night to observe the park’s owls in their element among the park’s old growth trees, including the one with the owl altar.  


Most events at Seward Park Audubon Center require advance registration.


Bird Focus: Early Spring Nesting 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, March 14. $5. Ages 8 and up. POSTPONED

Science, Nature & A Biscuit: Seattle’s Tree Canopy 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, March 15. $5 (students free). Ages 10 and up. POSTPONED

Owl Prowl 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, March 20. $10. Ages 10 and up. POSTPONED

Owl Prowl 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, March 27. $10. Ages 10 and up. POSTPONED

Native Plant Walk 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Free Ages 8 and up. POSTPONED