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Oregon Birding Hotspots

Highlights of and directions to ten Oregon birding destinations.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Directions: From Burns, go east on Oregon Highway 78, then south on Oregon Highway 205 to milepost 25. Refuge headquarters is 9 miles east on the county road.

Highlights: Most extensive freshwater marsh in western United States. Peak of spring migration includes over 250,00 ducks, 125,000 geese, and 6,000 Sandhill Cranes. Important breeding area for Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Long-billed Curlew, and White-faced Ibis. Refuge headquarters is famous as a fall and spring migrant trap.

Best times to visit: Spring, Summer, and Fall

For more information: US Fish and Wildlife Service, 541.493.2612.


Upper and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Directions: To reach Upper Klamath NWR, take Oregon Highway 140 west from Klamath Falls 25 miles to Rocky Point Road. Follow signs for 3 miles to Rocky Point Resort. To reach Lower Klamath NWR, drive south from Klamath Falls 19 miles on US Highway 97. At the California border, turn east on California Highway 161. Refuge headquarters is 4 miles south on Hill Road off California 161.

Highlights: Internationally renowned wildlife area on the Pacific flyway. Peak fall migration concentrates over 1 million birds. Important nesting area for American White Pelican, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, and Great Egret. More than 1,000 Bald Eagle winter in the area - the largest gathering of Bald Eagles in the contiguous United States.

Best times to visit: Year-round.

For more information: US Fish and Wildlife Service, 530.667.2231. Tule Lake | Lower Klamath | Clear Lake | Bear Valley


Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Directions: From Newport, drive north 3.4 miles on US Highway 1.01. Turn west onto Lighthouse Drive and follow signs to headland and lighthouse.

Highlights: One of the best locations on the northern coast to see colonial nesting birds, like Common Murre, Brandt's Cormorant, and Pigeon Guillemot. Nearby shores and rocky beaches are favored haul-out areas for Harbor Seal and California Sea Lion. Excellent place to watch migrating Gray Whales. Handicap accessible trail to tide pools. Historic lighthouse.

Best times to visit: Spring, Summer, and Fall

For more information: Bureau of Land Management, 541.574.3100.


Boiler Bay Wayside

Directions: Boiler Bay is 0.5 miles north of Depoe Bay.

Highlights: Roadside overview of rocky shore. Great place to see birds of the rocky coast like Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, and Pelagic Cormorant. High vantagepoint provides opportunities to see birds of open ocean, such as shearwaters and murrelets, and Gray Whale.

Best times to visit: Spring, Fall, and Winter.

For more information: Oregon Parks and Recreation, 541.265.4560.


Cape Meares State Park and National Wildlife Refuge

Directions: Cape Meares is 9 miles west of Tillamook on the Three Capes Scenic Route.

Highlights: Steep cliffs and old-growth forests of western hemlock and Sitka spruce. Colonial nesting area for Tufted Puffin, Common Murre, and Pigeon Guillemot. Good place to see Steller's Sea Lion, Harbor Seal, California Sea Lion, and Gray Whale. Trails to and from the cliffs are through massive old-growth forest.

Best times to visit: Spring, Fall, and Winter.

For more information: Oregon Parks and Recreation or US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Bayocean Peninsula

Directions: Take Netarts Highway west from Tillamook to Bayocean Road. Follow the Bayocean Road to peninsula.

Highlights: Mix of pine/spruce forest, grassy dunes, sandy beach, wetlands, and mudflats. Large flocks of wintering duck, especially American Wigeon, on Tillamook Bay. Excellent place to see shorebirds in migration.

Best times to visit: Year-round.

For more information: Oregon State Parks, Tillamook; 541.842.5501.


Fort Stevens State Park

Directions: From Astoria, go 2 miles west on US Highway 101. Turn right at Warrenton Junction and follow signs to the park.

Highlights: Viewing platform provides opportunities to see sea ducks like Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, and Black Scoter. Fall seabird migration, including up to 500,000 Sooty Shearwater migrating past the South Jetty. Close views of shorebirds, as rising tides cause concentrations behind the South Jetty or in Trestle Bay.

Best times to visit: Spring, Fall, and Winter.

For more information: Oregon Parks and Recreation, 503.861.1671.


Sauvie Island Wildlife Area

Directions: From downtown Portland, drive 10 miles west on US Highway 30. Turn right and cross the Sauvie Island bridge.

Highlights: Important habitat in the floodplain of the Columbia River to wintering waterfowl and other animals. In fall, over 150,000 ducks, geese, and swans use the area as a migratory stop or stay for the winter. Outstanding place to see Bald Eagle and Sandhill Crane in winter. Up to 100 Great Blue Heron can be seen feeding at one time on Sturgeon Lake.

Best times to visit: Spring, Fall, and Winter. Portions of the refuge are closed to the public from October to April.

For more information: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 503.621.3488.


Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Directions: From Portland, drive south on US 99E. Exit at the Sellwood and Milwaukie exit, turn right, and after a short distance, turn right again into the trailhead parking lot.

Highlights: Portland's first city wildlife refuge. Good location to see spring migrants. Great Blue Heron, the official city bird, are common. Nesting area for Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Wood Duck, Western Screech Owl, Bushtit, and Rufous Hummingbird.

Best times to visit: Spring, Fall, and Winter.

For more information: Portland Parks and Recreation, 503.823.4404


Audubon Society of Portland Sanctuary

Directions: From Portland, drive west on NW Lovejoy past NW 25th. The road bears to the right and becomes NW Cornell Road. Continue 1.5 miles through two tunnels. The Sanctuary is on the right 0.5 miles past the second tunnel.

Highlights: Feeders provide close-up views of forest birds, like Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Band-tailed Pigeon. Wintering species like Varied Thrush. Hummingbird feeders attract Rufous and Anna's hummingbirds. Trails through mixed woodlands and old growth forests. Endangered Cutthroat Trout in Balch Creek. Interpretive displays and a Nature Store, open daily, provides information and sells optics and nature books.

Best times to visit: Year-round.

For more information: Audubon Society of Portland, 503.292.6855

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