Spring Guide: Bird Up, Corvallis

Bald Eagle

The arrival of springtime brings the return of Oregon’s rich birding pastime. According to visitcorvallis.com, Oregon has logged 465 of the 800 species of birds found in all of North America. Of those species, 206 have been recorded within a 30-mile radius of the Corvallis/Salem region of Oregon. 

This wide diversity of bird species is attributed to several factors. In addition to the 300 miles of coastline, varied habitations, and divergent climates, Oregon happens to lie directly beneath the Pacific Flyway.

The Flyway extends from southern Alaska down the Pacific coast, through the Willamette Valley to eastern Oregon, finally ending in southern Mexico. With such a wealth of diverse bird species, Corvallis remains one of the most comprehensive places for birding. For novices and experts alike, below is a list of the Top 10 best areas and events for birding this spring. 

Audubon Sanctuary (8590 NW Oak Creek Drive)  On April 27-28, the Audubon Sanctuary is conducting its 2019 Birdathon, part of its annual fundraiser for the Hesthavn Nature Center. To participate, find a sponsor to agree on a donation fee for every species of bird spotted. The DIY birding expedition can be done in or outside of Corvallis. Results will be announced during the Audubon Sanctuary meeting in May. Contact Birdathon coordinator Karan Fairchild at alderspr@peak.org to participate.

Dusky Canada Goose

Bald Hill Park & Benton County Fairgrounds (110 SW 53rd Street)  This sprawling urban park is an extension of the public Benton County Fairgrounds. With a lush grove of oak trees, common birds native to the area include western bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, northern flicker, European starlings, western meadowlarks, and western wood-pewees. Hawks and wild turkey can also be spotted.

Chip Ross Park and Timberhill Open Space (Lester Avenue and Highland Drive)  With over 125 acres that include a 1.5 mile hiking loop-trail, Chip Ross Park is a prime place to observe western bluebirds year round, as well as Lazuli buntings in the transition from spring to summer. Acorn woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks, dark-eyed juncos, blue-green swallow, and house wrens are also springtime staples. Hours run from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  

Downtown Riverfront (602 SW 1st Street)  The downtown riverfront area of Corvallis is home to some of the most diverse waterfowl in Oregon. In addition to western osprey nesting from April to September, species to watch include herons, mergansers, native sparrows, and as many as five species of swallow, including flights of cliff swallows and the rare northern rough-winged swallow.  

Lesser Goldfinch

Jackson-Frazier Wetlands (3580 NE Lancaster Street)  Located northeast of Corvallis, this Benton County park features a 3,400 foot-accessible wooden boardwalk that careens through the wetland, offering birders a chance to spot year-round species. Mallards, mourning doves, marsh wrens, lesser goldfinches, common yellowthroat, song sparrows, and other species can be seen during springtime.  

Mary’s Peak (Highway 34 and Mary’s Peak Road)  From the highest peak in Oregon’s coast range, mountain birding from spring through summer will yield sightings of various thrushes, warblers, and song sparrows. Occasionally, nomadic cascade birds such Clark’s nutcrackers, Townsend’s solitaires, and gray-crowned rosy-finches can be seen. Note, Mary’s Peak requires a recreation pass which can be obtained from Siuslaw National Forest and several recreation stores.  

Peavy Arboretum (8692 NW Peavy Arboretum Road) Commissioned by the OSU College of Forestry, Peavy Arboretum is the ideal place to observe migrating forests birds, as well as species typically found in higher elevation coastal ranges. On May 6-8, enjoy the 2019 Peavy Arboretum Birding Walk, part of their ninth annual Corvallis Sustainability Coalition event. To participate, contact Don Boucher at donaboucher@gmail.com. 

Snag Boat Bend Unit (Peoria Road & County Road 211) Located in Halsey, the Snag Boat Bend Unit is an extension overseen by the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Visit before the summer heat dries up the seasonal wetlands, marshes, and ponds to see such bird species as wood ducks, Bullock’s orioles, Canadian geese, and great blue heron rookeries.    

Great Blue Heron

Willamette Park, Kendall Natural Area, and Crystal Lake Sports Field (Fisher Lane and Goodnight Avenue) This sprawling open space serves as a transitory home to over 40 species of birds throughout the year. This spring, birders can witness bald eagles, osprey, common mergansers, and many other forest birds. Across the river sits a great blue heron rookery of over 40 nests.  

William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge (26208 Finley Refuge Road)  With 5,235 acres, this massive refuge boasts the most diverse and concentrated array of bird species in Corvallis. Species include the near-endangered dusky Canada goose, regal herons, egrets and bitterns, killdeer, western sandpiper, long-billed dowitcher, western osprey, great-horned owl, American kestrel, American robin, tree swallow, and several others. Springtime is perfect for birding at Cheadle Marsh and Pigeon Butte.

For local birding contacts and additional birding information, visit http://www.birdingpal.org/or.htm.


Jake Dee