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Birding in Corvallis, Oregon

VisitCorvallis Staff | 02/08/2018 | Bird Watching, Nature Walks/Trails, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife

Whether you are a first time visitor to Oregon and the Willamette Valley or a life-long resident, it doesn’t take long to discover that one of the fastest growing hobbies in the Northwest is Oregon birding.

Oregon has recorded at least 465 species of the total 800 species of birds in all of North America. 206 of these bird species are found within a 30-mile radius of the Corvallis-Salem area in Oregon. This large diversity of birds in Oregon can be attributed to the varying habitats and distinct climates found here. With over 300 miles of coastline, a valley protected by two large mountain ranges creating a relatively mild climate, birds make Western Oregon a prime stopping place during migration and year-round.

In the mid-Willamette Valley alone there are three Wildlife Refuges, Ankeny, Baskett Slough, and William Finley, which contain the varied habitats of wetlands, prairies, riparian and upland forests, and cultivated farmlands. The refuges provide a welcome wintering habitat for Dusky Canada geese, six other subspecies of Canada geese, and the occasional Tundra Swan. These refuges also are home to several species of endangered plants and the endangered Fender’s Blue Butterfly.

Oregon lies directly under a large bird migration route known as the Pacific Flyway. The Pacific Flyway originates in southern Alaska and follows a path between the Pacific coastline, Willamette Valley, and Eastern Oregon terminating in southern Mexico. The Flyway covers coastline, mountains, and rivers that provide abundant food supplies and a kind of migratory “map” for the birds to follow. Birds do not, however, always follow this north-south route. From studies of banded birds, it is known that they may travel east to west to migrate into other flyways and several local species migrate east-west to change elevation with the seasons. This east-west migration in the winter provides Corvallis with birds such as the Varied Thrush and the Black-Capped Chickadee.

If you are visiting or happen to live in Corvallis, Oregon, you have several birding options nearby. Within a 30 mile radius of the city you will find the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, the E. E. Wilson National Wildlife Refuge, the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, and within city limits, the Jackson-Frazier Wetlands Preserve. Jackson-Frazier is open throughout the year. A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk winds through this wetland, allowing visitors to see many plant communities and habitats.

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