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Guest Author | 01/28/2020 | Bird Watching, Outdoor Recreation, Winter

Birding Hotspots Near Corvallis, Oregon

Winter draws waterfowl to the Willamette Valley and brings opportunities for birders to view a wide variety of species. The rich marsh habitats of these areas draw seasonal migrations as well as holding resident waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, and raptors year round.

Here's a few spots along the Pacific Flyway in the mid-valley area:

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area just northwest of Eugene was created by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Game Commission in a joint effort to manage wildlife on 5,261 acres. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded in this area. ODFW acquired two units in 2013 and 2015 for controlled hunts, and the total area now covers 5,794 acres in and around Fern Ridge Reservoir. A parking permit from ODFW is required to access FRWA.

Finley Wildlife Refuge just south of Corvallis offers great opportunities for observing waterfowl, particularly one of the smallest subspecies population of geese, the Dusky Canadian Goose, which overwinters in the Valley well into April. Beyond food and habitat, the refuge is managed as a sanctuary for these geese to be undisturbed, with the interior sections being closed to public use.

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge just south of Salem provides access to photography blinds available by reservation during the winter. Most trails are also closed during the sanctuary season, but there are boardwalks and kiosks open year-round. Ankeny is easily accessible, only a few minutes from Interstate 5.

Baskett Slough Refuge just north of Rickreall offers a diverse range of habitats, from permanent and seasonal wetlands, agricultural fields, mixed forest, oak woodlands, wet prairies and upland savannahs. At the junction of Highway 99W and 22, handicap and stroller accessible viewing platforms are available to visitors. The Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail is open year-round, but all other trails are closed to provide sanctuary to wintering waterfowl.

While visiting these popular overwintering sanctuaries for migratory birds like the Dusky Canada Goose, remember to "Let the geese do the honking." Kelly Warren of Wild Spirit Resources reminds visitors to remain in their vehicles when passing through the refuge as well. "Wildlife are used to cars, but when people get out of their cars, wildlife will move off, flush, or vacate the area. Cars work as great blinds. If you see someone with a camera out their window, please do not walk or pull up behind them and get out of your vehicle. It's possible they have been waiting for a particular shot, light, species, or angle for quite some time."

Article by Randall Bonner. Photo by Dig deeper (own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, link). Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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Please Note: Benton County, Oregon, is currently rated "High Risk" according to Oregon's new COVID-19 safety framework. Learn what this means for you. Masks are required for those 5 years old and above in all indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where a physical distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained. Travelers are advised to stay home. Businesses may be operating with altered hours, requiring appointments, and/or have additional safety requirements in place. Please call ahead to businesses you're interested in visiting to confirm if they're open and what they're requiring.
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