This is a preview of the Spring Birds of Malheur trip written by KBO Board President Harry Fuller. Trip #2 (June 11th-15th) is selling out fast!
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was created by President Theodore Roosevelt over a century ago. Malheur has long had a reputation as a great birding hotspot in the high sagebrush steppe of eastern Oregon. Nearly 200,000 acres of lake, marsh and riparian habitat surrounded by steep mountains make the Malheur Basin a rich and diverse birding location. Oregon largest breeding colonies of White Pelicans and Sandhill Cranes are found here. Many other species are at the western edge of their breeding range, including Bobolink, Eastern Kingbird, and Franklin’s Gull. Raptors we will see include Bald and Golden Eagle, Swainson’s and Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Kestrel and many Northern Harrier. Short-eared, Barn, Great Horned, and Burrowing Owls all nest in the area. We may see a dozen species of waterfowl including Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal. The land birds we will see include daylight hunting Common Nighthawks, flocks of White-faced Ibis, Loggerhead Shrike, Sage Thrasher, with the largest song repertoire of any bird on Earth, Say’s Phoebe, nesting Willet and Long-billed Curlew, Wilson’s Snipe, Brewer’s and Sagebrush Sparrow, Rock Wren, and late migrants which may include vagrants from the east. Mammals we can expect include pronghorn, coyote, yellow-bellied marmot, Townsend’s cottontail, Belding’s ground squirrel, and perhaps long-tailed weasel. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible birding hotspot, with over 280 species recorded. It is a must-see destination for birders and nature lovers.