Northeast Zone VIEWING
Bighorn sheep can be viewed along the South Fork of the John Day. The first ducklings and goselings are being seen in the valley. As spring progresses 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. A few sandhill cranes can still be heard as they migrate back through the valley. 5/7/13.
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.
Ladd Marsh Bird Festival, La Grande, May 17, 18 and 19
It’s fun, friendly and free. Come to La Grande for an exciting birdwatching experience. The Bird Festival occurs during the height of spring bird migration and nesting time in the Grande Ronde Valley and gives you a chance to see species you may never have seen.
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 now 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 Geese are nesting throughout the wildlife area and many broods have hatched. Nearly 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. Numerous Blue-winged Teal have been seen recently. A few American White Pelicans are present on the wildlife area.
American Bittern, Great Egret, American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt are all present. Numerous shorebird species including Dunlin, Western Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper have also been seen recently. A small group of White-faced Ibis were seen in the flats near Peach Road and later in flight over the marsh on Monday. A breeding-plumaged male Black-Bellied Plover was found in a field adjacent to the wildlife area.
White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow and Say’s Phoebe are present. Tree Swallow, Violet-Green Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow and Northern Rough-winged Swallow have all made their way back to the marsh. Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat have returned and are in full song.
Great-horned Owls have hatched and most owlets have left their nests. Red-tailed Hawks are incubating or have hatched and most Swainson’s Hawks are nesting. Northern Harriers are also nesting and may be feeding young.
Local nesting Sandhill Crane pairs are nesting and at least three pairs have hatched. 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.
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. 5/14/13.