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Guest Author | 11/15/2021 | Bird Watching, Fall, Outdoor Recreation

Thanksgiving Birdwatching

As the Thanksgiving holidays approach us, the bird is the word, and turkeys are on our minds. They might be an unusual species for bird watchers to seek after, but their habits are fascinating and their numbers in Benton County are plentiful. The city of Corvallis has turkeys that often wander through residential neighborhoods, but there are a few places on the outskirts where you can observe the holiday mascot in nature.

Wild turkeys aren't native to the area and were introduced to Oregon in 1961. Since then, more than 10,000 turkeys have been transplanted to different areas across the state. The Merriam's wild turkey was the first subspecies released in Oregon, sourced by live traps from Mountainous woodland habits in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska and Montana. The Rio Grande wild turkey was first introduced to Southwest Oregon in 1975. This subspecies is native to riparian zones and scrub woodlands in the Southwest. The Rio Grande has adapted to a wide range of habitats and established well in Oregon, with management efforts shifting towards their subspecies since the 1980's.

(Photos of Corvallis-area turkeys, by Randall Bonner.)

With the riparian habitats of the Willamette River and it's tributaries meandering through the valley, there are stable populations of these birds across the county. The oak savannah habitats along Oak Creek stretching from Bald Hill (map) to Fitton Green (map) are great places to hike easily accessible trails with good habitat. Oregon State University research forests near Oak Creek and Soap Creek hold good populations of birds as well. Check updates for closures to verify access points.

If you're looking for a more leisurely experience of bird watching and enjoy drinking wine, most of the valley vineyards in the local area exist in the same habitats as wild turkeys. During the Fall harvest season, turkeys often wander through the vineyards and feed on the leftovers, so now is the perfect time to sit, sip wine, and enjoy some big bird watching. Cardwell Hills, Airlie, and Lumos have particularly large resident populations of turkeys, and are great places to make a stop and pick up a bottle of wine for Thanksgiving dinner.

Featured photo by Tara Schultz. Article by Randall Bonner. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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