CENTRAL ZONE VIEWING
Mark B. Gibson/The Dalles Chronicle contributed to this report
Wasco and Sherman counties
Vultures, with their distinctive "V" shaped wing pattern, are back and can be seen patrolling the areas roads and rivers.
Ground squirrels are now visible on warmer days, grey squirrels are out and about as well, often spotted in the pine and oak habitat of the Cascade foothills.
Turkeys and deer are also common seen, especially in the oak habitats and creek valleys.
Bluebirds are back, as are Rufus and Anus hummingbirds.
The Lower Deschutes River provides ample wildlife viewing opportunities. California Bighorn Sheep are frequently observed in the canyon and can provide fantastic viewing this time of year. The best spot to view sheep is from the BLM access road just downstream and across the river from Sherar’s Falls (along Hwy 216).
Other wildlife that may be seen along the river include black-taildeer, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, Osprey, and Golden and Bald eagles. Waterfowl are commonly observed on the river, and visitors can usually see many different songbirds and upland game birds that also call the canyon home.
It’s still a bit early, but scan the skies for a glimpse of a large birds with a “V” shaped wing pattern and you could be looking at a turkey vulture.
Winter is an excellent time to view raptors around Deschutes County. Red-tailed hawks are one of the most numerous birds of prey and commonly seen on fence and power poles scanning meadows, sagebrush shrub steppe, and other open areas for a tasty rodent.
Stella’s jays, white-headed woodpeckers, junco’s, several sparrow species, ravens, spotted towhee, hairy woodpecker, cedar waxwings and red-cross bills are just a few of the species that can be found in the Deschutes National Forest and BLM managed lands. Good sites to look for birds include forest edges surrounding meadows and wetland areas. Those with patience and stealth may be rewarded by the call and possible sighting of a Virginia rail moving through thickets of cat tails.
Specific birding destinations to consider include Tumalo Reservoir (west of Highway 20 between Sister and Bend), Pelton Dam wildlife overlook and Lake Simstustus (Deschutes River northwest of Madras), and Hatfield Lakes (just north of the Bend airport), where you can expect to see Canada geese, American widgeon, green-winged teal, bufflehead, ring-necked ducks, northern shovelers, lesser scaup, common and Barrow’s goldeneye, multiple gull species, and various grebes including horned, eared, western, and Clark’s.
Squirrels may be seen on warmer days, and you might run into a black-tailed jackrabbit or two in areas where sagebrush abounds. Folks up and about in the early hours maybe treated to the sight of a coyote hunting for meadow voles and other small rodents in open meadows.