The wide-open spaces of Eastern Oregon make for rich bird-watching opportunities year-round. The town of Pendleton, conveniently located near several birding spots, offers a great home base for this birding trail. Take flight from there during the day and come back to roost in the evening at one of the towns many great hotels. Feeling peckish? Stop for a bite at Hamley’s Steakhouse, The Rainbow Café or Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub.
Power City Wildlife Area: Right in downtown Pendleton, you can visit this 80-acre wetland, where birding is best in spring and summer. Look for Virginia rail, sora, passerina and American bittern.
McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge: Just south of Pendleton, the refuge is open from March through September. In spring and summer, you’ll see American white pelican, gull and tern. Late summer, look for migrating shorebirds like western, least, Baird’s, semi-palmated and pectoral sandpiper; yellowlegs and semipalmated plover; and occasional sanderling and stilt or solitary sandpiper.
Battle Mountain Scenic Corridor and State Park: About 40 miles south of Pendleton near Ukiah, the park hosts mountain species like red crossbill, mountain chickadee, nuthatch, brown creeper, northern pygmy and saw-whet owl; hairy, black-backed and pileated woodpecker; Williamson’s and red-naped sapsucker; and mountain and western bluebird.
Ukiah: Heading south into the town of Ukiah, look for prairie falcon, golden eagle, sandhill crane and bluebird. At the Ukiah Sewage Treatment Lagoons, you can see nesting Canada goose, redhead, north shoveler and ruddy duck; cinnamon, blue-winged and green-winged teal as well as gray partridge, long-billed curlew, sage thrasher, north shrike and bald eagle in the surrounding area.
Cold Springs Wildlife Refuge: Thirty miles northwest of Pendleton near Hermiston, the refuge is 3,117 acres of marsh, open-water, mudflats and riparian habitat. Look for least, western, Baird’s and pectoral sandpiper; yellowlegs and semipalmated plover in the fall as well as the less common black-bellied and American plover; stilt sandpiper and marbled godwit. American white pelican, Canada goose, gull, duck and grebe also rest and feed here.
Hat Rock State Park: Six miles from Cold Springs Wildlife Refuge near Hermiston, the park is a good place to see Bullock’s oriole, western kingbird and other flycatcher, warbler and the occasional least flycatcher and red-eyed vireo in spring and early summer. During the winter, look for bald eagle, grebe and other waterfowl.