Birdathon #2

Less than one week after our first Birdathon, we rallied the troops for another. Eight of our friends gathered at Vanport Wetlands in North Portland for what would be a 13-hour cruise to the east end of the Columbia Gorge and back.

Vanport was a great starting point thanks to the brilliant Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Cinnamon Teals, Ruddy Ducks, and Redheads that were on display.

Just beyond the fence, a Pied-billed Grebe incubated two eggs that will soon produce two stripey nestlings.

Our first stop in the Columbia Gorge was the Eagle Creek Hatchery and trailhead. We crowded onto a swaying suspension bridge to listen for songbirds and scan the water for American Dippers and Common Mergansers.

When it came time to bird the dry country, we visited the Tom McCall Nature Preserve. It was pretty quiet there, but we eventually found the bird we came for: a singing Ash-throated Flycatcher!

The birding may have been thin, but the views made the winding road and hot sun bearable.

The most surprising bird of the day was an Eastern Kingbird hanging out at this vineyard near the mouth of the Deschutes River.

The temperature rose quickly up in the afternoon, so, after driving as far east as John Day Dam, we replenished our water supplies in Biggs Junction and made one more stop on the Oregon side of the Gorge.

Along Highway 197 outside the Dalles, we visited a road cut that has been colonized by Bank Swallows. We watched the small swallows zip in and out of their nest burrows while making their harsh, froglike calls.

Our last stop was Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. As you can tell by the dazed look on my face, we were getting tired at this point. Nonetheless, we marched on and found a few more species including a spectacular American Bittern. After making our final species tally in the refuge parking lot we returned to Portland.

Our group total of 92 species was quite respectable given the hot afternoons on the east side and the unfamiliar terrrain. Big thanks go out to Andrew and Brian from Timber Press, Annie, Enid, Greta, Jackie, Jay, Lisa, Maggie, Mary, Susan, and Wendy for pledging Sarah and I and helping us make this our best fundraising year yet!

Now that our Birdathoning is complete for 2014, it's time to start planning for next year!


  1. Wow! That's a BIG DAY and a lot of miles. Glad you had a successful trip. I still need to get a WA county Yellow-headed Blackbird. Any hot tips? :)

  2. Awesome stuff! You guys are way better at this Birdathon thing than me! Good job!


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