La Grande Old Time!

Last week we made our annual trip to find birds that do not nest in the Portland area. We drove to the northeastern corner of Oregon and discovered the many great birds that Union County has to offer.

On the way to La Grande, we first stopped to let Andie cool her paws in the Umatilla River.

Next, we searched for Great Gray Owls in pine forests of the Blue Mountains.

We struck out on owls, but we were able to watch this young black bear from the safety of our car. Not a bad consolation!

Upon arriving in La Grande, we visited Trent Bray at his birding shop, The Bobolink. Trent's shop doesn't have much of on online presence but he really knows the birds of Union County, so stop and pick his brain if you are passing through. He directed us to Rhinehardt Canyon on the Grande Ronde River.

Here we instantly heard Veery and Gray Catbird songs. These are two species we'd never before seen or heard in Oregon. Additional catbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, and Willow Flycatchers were all over the place!

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Management Area was wonderfully productive as well. Yellow-headed blackbirds sang their goofy songs and Black-necked Stilts were busy chasing other marsh birds away from their long-legged, newly-hatched chicks. All three teal species were present as well.

The last bird on our wish-list was, of course, a Bobolink. We followed Trent's precise directions to this field and found three displaying males. They were so far from the road that we could not photograph them, even if we owned the proper equipment. We'll still take em! Bobolinks favor tall grass and the grass in this field was tall enough to hide a few lurking Sandhill Cranes.

With wetlands, forests, and other habitats packed into a relatively small area, Union County is a must-visit for birders. Visit soon and talk to Trent at the Bobolink to get the most out of your trip!


  1. Awesome trip! I actually planned to visit Rhinehart Canyon on my way back from Yellowstone (for catbirds) but had to skip it and get home. I'm so glad to see what I missed out on here! Great post, love that bear.


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