In Oregon, we often take things to extremes. The spirit of high-adrenaline activities like white-water kayaking, rock climbing and dune-buggy riding has now spilled over into bird-watching with “extreme birding” in the Klamath Basin with Roe Outfitters.
Roe Outfitters Co-owner Jenifer Roe describes the experience as “a storm of wings.” After guides set up a bird blind to camouflage bird-watchers and decoys to entice the migrating birds, they call them in en masse. “First there is a ton of anticipation. Your heart is beating so fast. Then they start coming by the droves,” she says. “It sounds almost like an aircraft when you have that many birds around you.” As the hundreds of waterfowl land all around the blind, Roe says you can see them in great detail without binoculars.
The Klamath Basin is one of the premier bird-watching locations in the West. Birds congregate here for a variety of habitats, including marshes, open water, forest, grasslands, meadows and cliffs. Situated on the Pacific Coast Flyway, the area sees more than one million birds during the course of fall migration and hosts more than 1,000 bald eagles in the winter — the largest gathering of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The basin sees more than 400 different species each year. During spring migration, visitors will see shorebirds and waterfowl on their way to Canada and Alaska and thousands of birds returning to nest here.
Founded in 1984, Roe Outfitters began as a hunting and fishing operation and now offers family fishing trips, rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and birding. Roe says extreme birding is best through February through April, and the company offers other birding trips year round.
In addition to a great variety of migrating birds, Roe says the tours offers people the chance to experience the beauty of the Klamath Basin at dawn and dusk. Reservations are recommended, and visitors should expect some pre-trip orientation about clothing and photography in order to cause the least disturbance to the birds. Roe says children are welcome. “We are very family-friendly,” she says. “If we can get your kids out there and get them to fall in love with the outdoors, great!”
For more information about the Klamath Basin, visit KlamathAudubon.org.
More spring birding trip ideas:
Attend one of these feathered festivals
Watch for Bald Eagles at Lake Billy Chinook
Visit the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene
Travel the Northeastern Oregon Birding Trail