Stop 8 - Southeast Oregon : MALHEUR NWR
The following page is devoted to my roadtrip photos of birds at Malheur NWR in southeast Oregon. Clearly, I did not photograph every kind of bird that can be found at Malheur NWR, but I have provided a selection of some of my favorite photos of the birds I did happen to see as I passed through.
Three years later, in June 2011, I returned to Malheur with my dad. In 24 hours, we saw 76 different species of birds, which is pretty impressive diversity for one area. We had so much fun that we returned the following May 2012; this time we saw 91 different species of birds in a few days! Combining the lists from my 2008, 2011, and 2012 trips, I've seen 105 different species at Malheur. I included some of my photos from the 2011 and 2012 trips in an additional section at the bottom of this page.
From North Dakota, I drove west through Yellowstone, where I had planned to stop for a few days. However, it was snowing (in June!) and the lighting was abysmal for photography, so I continued onward to my next birding stop at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon. I had always pictured southeastern Oregon as endless miles of dry desert. However, Malheur boasts the largest freshwater marsh in the western United States, surrounded by 187,000 acres of meadows, ponds, alkali flats, shrub uplands, and rimrocks. The Refuge is located on the Pacific Flyway, and is an important spring refueling point for migrant birds heading north to their nesting grounds. As a result, the Refuge is a regional center for species diversity and abundance of local and migrant birds. It also serves as an excellent vagrant trap.
Since Malheur is so large, I focused my efforts at certain locations, and drove slowly on the dirt roads in-between. Refuge Headquarters, Benson Pond, and P-Ranch were great for songbirds, and the marshes between were teeming with ducks, grebes, teals, herons, and more. I saw more species in my first day at Malheur than I had seen at any other single place on my travels. I enjoyed the constant serenade of swallows (at one point I saw four different kinds on one branch!), flycatchers (there were at least seven different kinds), blackbirds (three different kinds), and ducks (I stopped counting when I reached ten different kinds). I woke up before sunrise one morning in hopes of spotting a Virginia Rail, but although I heard their distinct metallic frog-like squeaking chirp, they remained hidden in the reeds.
I saw so many different birds on my trip, but I found a few at Malheur that I did not see anywhere else on my travels, such as the Canvasback, Horned Grebe, California Quail, and Western Tanager.
After a few days at Malheur, I retraced my path and returned to Yellowstone, in hopes of an improved weather since I had passed through a few days previous….
(My favorite photos are highlighted.)
Three years later, in June 2011, I returned to Malheur with my dad. In 24 hours, we saw 76 different species of birds, which is pretty impressive diversity for one area. We had so much fun that we returned the following May 2012; this time we saw 91 different species of birds in a few days! Combining the lists from my 2008, 2011, and 2012 trips, I've seen 105 different species at Malheur. These 105 species and the trip(s) they were spotted are listed in the following table.
Following the table is a selection of my favorite photographs from the 2011 and 2012 trips.
Species spotted 2008, 2011, & 2012 trips