Spring is for the birds

Mar 12, 2018
Spring migrations are underway at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve! Learn more about where you can find songbirds like this yellow warbler.

As spring comes to Central Oregon we all feel the itch to get outside and soak in the warmth of the sun and the green of new leaves. Migrating birds are also enticed to return to Central Oregon each spring to take advantage of freshly hatched insects, new leaves, and nesting sites. Interested in watching their arrival?

Land Trust Preserves provide excellent opportunities for new and seasoned birders to watch birds in a variety of habitats. Here are the best places to watch for birds, then take a hike your own or on a guided Land Trust bird walk.

Pygmy nuthatch. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

Forest: The ponderosa pine groves of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, and the Metolius Preserve offer habitat for a variety of birds including woodpeckers, creepers, and nuthatches. Listen for knocking as you enter these groves. Your ear will often find the bird before your eye. Then, scan the tree trunks for sapsuckers searching for insects or nuthatches peeking out of holes.




White-headed woodpecker. Photo: Dick Tipton.

Snags: Dead standing trees, or snags, are important for many wildlife species, including the white-headed woodpecker, for nesting and foraging. Several Land Trust Preserves were lacking natural snags, so we created more to provide much needed habitat. Once the snags fall down, they will continue to benefit the forest by helping return nutrients to the soil and as homes for other wildlife.




California quail. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

Meadows: Sage meadows can be found at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, and Whychus Canyon Preserve. These meadows provide important food for deer and elk, as well as cover for California quail (listen for their “chi-ca-go”). Golden crowned sparrows, violet-green swallows, and colorful western bluebirds can also be seen. Don’t forget to look up! Soaring raptors often case the meadows looking for mice and gopher snacks.




Canyon wren. Photo: Brian Small.

Canyon: The canyons of Whychus Canyon Preserve and privately-owned Rimrock Ranch provide excellent cliff habitat for nesting golden eagles. At the base of those soaring canyon walls you can find brilliant blue lazuli buntings—a species whose male sings only one song which is unique to him. The chipper canyon wren is also a frequent canyon denizen. Listen for its descending series of notes as you hike these canyons.




Yellow warbler. Photo: John Williams.

Creek: The creeks and wetlands at Land Trust Preserves are rich with habitat for a host of resident and migratory birds. Hummingbirds like to use the highest branches of willows to perch, and colorful warblers (orange-crowned, yellow, and yellow-rumped) can be found flitting from bush to bush. Of course, the trilling—and thrillingly colored—red-winged blackbird can also be found near the water’s edge.




Interested in learning more about birds and bird watching: