There’s a new way to explore Oregon and this one is really for the birds! But it’s designed for people – especially folks who like to explore new destinations where half the fun is in the getting there.

The first “Willamette Valley Birding Trail” is a new partnership between varied birding groups and Travel Oregon. It offers people a chance to explore 130 legitimate birding sites in a region that is home to 70 percent of the state’s population.

Joel Geier and I recently met at William Finley National Wildlife Refuge where he told me that variety is the spice of his birding life along the new Willamette Valley Birding Trail. Geier knows his birding game well! After all, he’s a longtime member of the Oregon Field Ornithologists. His organization along with several others including Travel Oregon joined to identify 130 birding trails in the Willamette Valley.

It’s easy to locate a trail online. A click of your mouse takes you inside one of the dozen different loops where you’ll find directions to the sites plus photos of the species that you’ll see along the way.

Sallie Gentry and Molly Monroe agree that the new Homer Campbell Memorial Boardwalk at William Finley Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis is one of those special places where you can go birding. It’s an astonishing trail that is wheelchair accessible along 1700 feet of elevated boardwalk that leads to an observation blind that overlooks a small pond that attracts many different birds.

“It is a magnet for wildlife,” noted Monroe. “We’ll have thousands upon thousands of ducks and geese and swans here within the next few months.”

Gentry added, “We’re kind of a little known secret right now, but I think we’re going to become more well known because there are such excellent wildlife viewing opportunities here and you can get relatively close without disturbing the wildlife.”

Not only wintering waterfowl, but also raptor species like bald eagles make the Finley Refuge their winter homes.

“It’s one of the easiest birds for most people to identify so it’s fun for them. Often, you just look out on a tree line of snags and say, ‘Oh, there’s an eagle perched right there.’ Eagles are good because they’re well known by most people and they’re recovery from near extinction is such a success story.”

If you’re eager to learn more about birding, but you’re not sure how to get started, Gentry said that there is good news for the casual first time visitor this Fall season.

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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In this Grant’s Getaway

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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