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Southeast Zone weekly wildlife viewing update, Sept. 5



Harney County

Fall shorebird and waterfowl migration has started. Lesser yellow legs, phalaropes, sandpipers, killdeer, avocets, black-necked stilts, white-faced ibis, willets, pelicans, egrets and a variety of grebes species some still with broods are a few of what can be seen. Caspian terns, Forester’s terns, black terns and some Franklin’s gull can also be found.

Resident breeding waterfowl with young are still abundant around Malheur Lake.

Sandhill cranes can be found in agricultural fields throughout the Harney Basin.

A large number of breeding passerine species and woodpeckers can be found in National Forest land throughout the county. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is the summer home to some unique passerines and is an excellent place for birding.

Raptors continue to be found throughout the area. You should be able to view osprey around lakes and reservoirs, golden eagles, a few bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, prairie falcons and ferruginous hawks. 8/27/13.


Klamath Falls Area

Check out any wetland areas, rivers, and lakes for duck brood activity. Waterfowl broods are now fully feathered and can be seen in large groups on many area wetlands.

Wood ducks can be found with broods now near Rocky Point, Shoalwater Bay, and Aspen Lake.

Canada geese are now flighted and can be found feeding in pastures and harvested grain fields near waterbodies.

Bald eagles remain in the area, though they are primarily concentrated around nest sites typically associated with water bodies and rivers. Traditional locations to view bald eagles include Upper Klamath Lake, Lake Ewauna, Yonna Valley, Sprague River Valley, and Langell Valley.

Owl species including great-horned, barn, screech and short-eared owls can be observed just after dark around agricultural and foothill areas as they start hunting for rodents, snakes, and other small prey. Great gray owls are found at higher elevation forested areas usually adjacent to meadows and small forest openings.

Another close viewing opportunity is the Link River Trail where viewers will see many species of passerines as well as a few mammals including deer, gray fox and mink. 8/13/13.

Klamath Wildlife Area

Effective Jan.1, 2013, a Wildlife Area Parking Permit is required to park on the Wildlife Area. Cost is $7 daily or $22 annually. Free with purchase of hunting license. Buy online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more.

Habitat projects are underway on the Miller Island Unit. Reflooding of units is underway and provides an abundance of waterfowl and shorebirds to view.


Great Basin Canada geese have regained their flight ability after their molt and can be seen and heard on the Miller Island Unit. There are some wetlands, which are dry/drying for habitat management practices. Shoalwater Bay Unit: Ruddy duck, bufflehead, goldeneye, grebe, mallard and Great Basin Canada geese make up the majority of birds using the bay.

Shorebirds, waders and other waterbirds

White pelicans and Sandhill cranes are commonly seen foraging on the Miller Island Unit. Sandhills have been sighted with their colts. Redwing and yellow-headed blackbirds are common along the wetland perimeters.


Turkey vulture can be seen riding the thermals above the Miller Island Unit, and great horned owls have been seen perching on poles at dusk along fields. Red-tailed hawk and northern harrier can be seen foraging in the fields.

Upland Game Birds

California quail are scattered around the old homesteads and the headquarters area. Quail broods are being seen around the brushy areas on the Miller Island Unit.


Mourning and Eurasian collard dove can be found scattered over the area. Barn, cliff and tree swallows are all common nesters near the headquarters area. The new equipment shed is acting as a very suitable nesting area for the cliff swallows to place their gourd-shaped nests.

The dog training area is open for use daily and is located near the boat ramp at the Klamath River. Dog training is allowed on the wildlife area at this time in areas other than in Safety Zones.

Klamath Basin waterfowl numbers are available on the US Fish and Wildlife website at

Running and training of dogs is allowed only in the Dog Training Area by the boat ramp on Klamath River until August 1, 2013.

Overnight camping is not allowed on the Miller Island Unit. Discharge of firearms is prohibited except by permit. If you have any questions, please contact Klamath Wildlife Area at (541) 883-5734 or 5/14/13.


Most of the shore birds using Lake Abert have moved due to high alkalinity caused by low lake levels. All of the species that normally use Lake Abert are still present but the total number of birds has dropped substantially in the last two weeks. Goose Lake is almost dry. Water levels in the Warner Valley Lakes and Warner Wetlands are very low. As with Lake Abert most species of water birds are still present but the total number has dropped. 8/20/13.


This section was updated on September 3, 2013

Summer Lake Wildlife Area requires a $7 daily parking permit or a $22 annual parking permit. Parking permits can be purchased at any ODFW license agent or through the ODFW website. Locally, parking permits can be purchased at the Summer Lake Store, 1.3 miles north of Headquarters.

Vehicle access to the Wildlife Viewing Loop is open. The Wildlife Viewing Loop will remain open until early fall. Major dike roads (Bullgate, Gold and Windbreak dikes and the Work Road) are also open at this time. They will remain open until 3 days prior to the youth waterfowl hunting weekend (September 18, 2013).

All secondary roads and dikes will continue to remain closed and cross-country travel is prohibited. Non-motorized travel is permitted.

Breeding season is winding down and brood rearing continues for a few late nesting species. Viewers are reminded that running or training of dogs is prohibited, except by special permit. Please keep dogs on leash and/or under very close control during this critical time of the year. Flightless broods and molting adult ducks remain very vulnerable at this time of the year.


Duck broods remain very apparent at this time. Unsuccessful hens, groups of drakes and fledged young are beginning to flock together and many are undergoing their annual molt into the dull eclipse plumage. A simultaneous wing molt results in ducks becoming flightless for about one month. This is a very energetically demanding time of their life cycle and disturbance should be minimized. If broods or flightless adults are encountered, viewers are urged to move away to lessen impacts.

Flocks of migrant ducks are beginning to stage across the wildlife areas wetlands.

Canada goose nesting is over and the molting period is nearly over. Most birds have attained flight and family groups are forming flocks. Canada geese are widely scattered across the entire wildlife area. Greater white-fronted geese will be arriving very soon from their breeding grounds in Alaska. These geese can be found feeding and loafing in emergent marsh areas as they build energy reserves for their continued migration to California.

A few non-breeding trumpeters, part of restoration efforts can be found scattered across the wildlife area. All of the restoration birds will be neck-banded with green collars and white alphanumeric symbols. Viewers are encouraged to “read” the collars and report them to wildlife area personnel. Collars will have the Greek letter Theta (Ѳ) and two side-ways laying numerals that are read from the body toward the head.

Shorebirds, waders and other waterbirds

Fall migration is continuing; flocks of northerly nesting species continue to stage. American avocet, black-necked stilt, greater and lesser yellowlegs, least and western sandpiper, red-necked and Wilson’s phalarope, long-billed dowitchers and semi-palmated plovers and killdeer can be found at this time. Now is the time to look for rare or vagrant species moving through the area.

The recent restoration work in Between The Dikes area is very attractive to migrant shorebirds and use there is heavy.

Snowy plovers have been observed in the E. Link Unit and along Deepwater Canal.

American coot numbers remain good, large flocks are beginning to form and are found scattered across open water areas over the entire wildlife area.

Sandhill cranes are beginning to stage in preparation for their southward migration and large numbers can be observed in the Foster Place grain fields. Over 75 staging cranes were observed over the past weekend.

Grebe (eared, pied-billed, Western and Clark’s) numbers remain good, and nesting is winding down for nearly all species.

American bittern, black-crowned night-heron and great egrets are fairly numerous now. Great blue herons are present in low numbers and are widely scattered across the entire wildlife area. Snowy egrets have been observed recently.

American white pelican and double-crested cormorant numbers are fairly good at present.

California and ring-billed gulls nested in good numbers in the E. Link Unit this year, but have dispersed at this time. Very few can be found on the wildlife area now. Migrant Bonaparte’s gulls have been observed recently.

Most species of terns have departed the area, but a few lingering individuals can be found. A common tern was observed recently.

Raptors and Others

Resident raptors, especially red-tailed hawks are scattered throughout the Wildlife Area as well as on private lands along Hwy. 31.

Northern harriers are commonly observed over marsh and hay meadows.

Ospreys continue to be observed in the vicinity of the nest platforms at Ana Reservoir and Turner Place.

Bald and golden eagles are occasionally observed on the wildlife area. A pair of bald eagles nested nearby on Winter Ridge and adults can be found foraging over the wildlife area’s wetlands on a near daily basis.

Prairie falcons are fairly common residents of the area and are frequently seen during this time of the year. A peregrine falcon was observed last week.

Great horned owls and the occasional common-barn and short-eared owl can be found scattered across the entire wildlife area, especially in the trees at campgrounds.

Upland game birds

California quail and ring-necked pheasants are widely scattered across the north end of the wildlife area.


Barn, cliff and tree swallow have completed nesting and most species have migrated out of the area. The later migrating barn swallows continue to found across the entire wildlife area.

Eurasian collared doves remain very numerous at Headquarters Complex; more than 25 are present. Mourning doves can be found scattered throughout the area, a large number can be found in the Church, Dutchy and Swanie Field areas.

American and lesser goldfinches are seen on a regular basis, especially at Headquarters.

Migrant flycatchers, warblers and other passerines are numerous in the trees and shrubs found at Headquarters and old homestead sites..

Brewer’s, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds can be found scattered across wetland areas and homestead sites. Large numbers are appearing at the Headquarters feeder. .

Hummingbirds (Anna’s, black-chinned, calliope and rufous) remain fairly numerous and are utilizing feeders at Headquarters heavily.

Facilities and Access

As of Jan. 1, 2012, Summer Lake Wildlife Area requires a $7 daily parking permit or a $22 annual parking permit. Parking permits can be purchased at any Point of Sale Agent or through the ODFW website. Please remember: Calendar year 2013 parking permits are required!

Locally, parking permits can be purchased at the Summer Lake Store, 1.3 miles north of Headquarters.

The Wildlife Viewing Loop is open and provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. It will remain open until early fall. The major dike roads (Bullgate, Windbreak and Work Road) are open and will remain open until 3 days prior to the youth waterfowl hunting weekend (September 18, 2013). All secondary roads and dikes continue to remain closed and cross-country travel is prohibited. Non-motorized travel is permitted.

Camping is permitted at four sites on the Wildlife Area. Campgrounds are primitive but each has vault toilets, trash barrels and a few picnic tables.


Irrigation season is nearing an end, and with reduced evaporation due to cooler temperatures and shorter days flooding of wetland units are beginning to occur. Meadow haying is completed; and many are being flooded at this time. Regrowth and flooded conditions provide foraging areas for many waterbird species.

Bullgate Refuge is being held dry in preparation for wetland restoration later this fall.

Emergent wetland vegetation remains very vigorous across the entire area at this time. Submerged aquatic plants have filled the water column in nearly all ponds and canals.

Upland habitat remains in excellent condition with considerable residual vegetation and extensive new growth that is providing high quality food and cover for many wildlife species.

Planted tree and shrub plots are providing excellent sheltered sites for many wildlife species. Nearly all trees and shrub species have set abundant berries or fruit at this time.

Please contact Summer Lake Wildlife Area at (541) 943-3152 or e-mail for additional information.


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