Favorable ocean conditions and clear skies make for good whale watching. The winter migration is short and quick-usually only about four weeks-from mid-December to mid-January. The whales are not slowed by calves in the pod and single-mindedly drive southwards in straight lines a few miles offshore. You can see their spouts, but they are distant. About 18,000 gray whales will pass by the Oregon coast in these four weeks.
To watch the winter migration it is best to pick a calm day and find a view point that is high enough to spot the spouts that will be a few miles offshore. Learning good binocular technique will help spot the whales. Gaze out onto the ocean, focusing on medium distances until you see a puff of white. Then raise your binoculars while continuing to look at the place you saw the puff. This technique takes some practice, but generally works better than swinging the binoculars around looking for something. Just keep your eyes focused on the whale and raise the binoculars to your eyes, looking through them, not into them.
Winter Shorebirds on the Coast
During winter storm season, don't be alarmed by a few or moderate number of dead seabirds along the shoreline. It is common for a severe storm event to disrupt many seabirds. If you see an injured bird or a large number of dead birds, call your local wildlife rehabilitation center or ODFW office for advice.