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Northeast Zone weekly wildlife viewing report

NORTHEAST ZONE VIEWING

GRANT COUNTY

Bighorn sheep can be viewed along the South Fork of the John Day. The first ducklings and goslings are being seen in the valley, deer, antelope, and sheep are having their young as well. It is important to remember to leave any baby wildlife where you found them. It usually won’t be long before mom returns to check on them. 6/3/13.

BAKER COUNTY

Bighorn sheep and mule deer can be viewed along the Snake River road between Huntington and Richland. Keep your eyes open as Bald Eagles are also plentiful in the area. Bighorn sheep in the Burnt River are down low in the canyon along the riparian areas and can be viewed from the road.

Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler Counties

The signs of spring are all here in the Heppner area. Sandhill cranes have been seen heading north for the summer. The official first sign of spring for the Heppner area, a Say’s phoebe has been seen and heard in the area. Our summer migrants are starting to appear.

Long billed curlews can be seen in the wheat stubble fields. Mobs of ravens can be seen in the foothills, as can golden eagles. Ferruginous hawks can be seen the northern portion of the District on their nests. Short-eared owl can be seen along the grasslands of the north end of the District. Also in the grasslands one can spot horned larks, savanna sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, and meadowlarks. In areas that have good bunch grass in the north end of the District persistent birds can spot grasshopper sparrows, although they are easier to identify by sound. Our year-round resident raptors, red-tailed hawks, Northern harriers, and American kestrels are all easily found. Heppner’s merlin has been seen in the area as well. Prairie falcons can also be seen in the area, although much rarer to be found. Sharp-shinned hawks can be seen along the riparian areas of the north half of the District.

In the yards of the district, one can find the common songbirds around the feeder. Dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows are all easily found. American gold finches and Rufus sided towhees can also be see in the Heppner area. Also be cautious in the gravel driveways and parking lots as killdeer are nesting and their nests are very hard to spot.

Waterfowl can be seen paring up and starting nesting along the Columbia River and wetlands in the north end of the District. It is easy to spot mallards, American widgeon, northern shovelers, coot, blue wing, green wing, and cinnamon teals, buffleheads, and common mergansers. One can also spot common and Pied-billed grebes along the Columbia. Great blue herons are found along all of our streams that support fish. There are two that can be found most days between Heppner and Lexington along Willow Creek. In the wetlands of the area one can spot American Avocets, black-necked stilts, yellow-headed blackbirds and red-wing blackbirds. 5/7/13.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Breeding, nesting, and fledging are on all at once and bird viewing opportunities exist in many areas of the county. Breeding birds of many descriptions will be found in riparian, woodland, and shrub-steppe areas with many sightings of several species of warblers, sparrows, and wrens. Additionally, some of the more colorful species are making appearances such as Bullock’s orioles in riparian zones, western tanagers in forested broadleaf areas, and Lazuli buntings in rose and shrub areas.

Loggerhead shrikes will be a treat for birders in desert areas with abundant sage habitats. Long billed curlews will also be seen in the more grassy areas of the desert habitats as well. Burrowing owls will also be seen standing beside burrows or sitting on fence posts in the more arid areas during this period.

Although the temperatures are up and the hills are dryer, bears, deer, and elk can be seen in the early morning and late evening throughout the forested regions, especially to the north of I-84 where wetter conditions are more common.

The river corridor areas will offer some viewing with white pelicans and waterfowl trading back and forth along the river corridors. Warm season brings the opportunity to see species of waterfowl such as cinnamon teal and gadwalls which are absent in the cooler period of the year. The Columbia River is a good place to see a number of gull species as well as both Caspian and Forster’s terns.

UNION COUNTY

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Note: Wildlife viewers and anglers need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.

The Tule Lake Public Access Area and Auto Route and the Glass Hill Unit are open. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area. Dogs are not permitted within the Wildlife Area, on or off leash except during authorized hunting seasons. There are numerous quality viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area. Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance. Do not approach nesting birds or birds with young as this may make the young more vulnerable to predation.

Canada goose broods have hatched and most of the young are nearly as large as the adults. Duck broods seem to be late this year but more are being seen every day. Every expected species of duck is present including Northern Pintail, Wood Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck and Northern Shoveler. A few American White Pelicans are present on the wildlife area.

Passerines on the area include Song Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Tree, Violet-Green, Cliff, Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat in addition to both Eastern and Western Kingbirds.

Red-tailed Hawks are feeding young as are most Swainson’s Hawks. . Northern Harriers are also feeding young.

Most local nesting Sandhill Crane pairs have hatched although at least 2 are still incubating. Small groups of non-breeding cranes can be seen in fields and meadows all around the area. Please report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds.

White-tailed deer have been visible in meadows, especially in the early morning, and many have fawns.

For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, please consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area (541) 963-4954. 6/3/13.

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