Klamath Basin Birding
By Terence Philippe
If you havenʼt yet visited the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges during the waterfowl migration period now is the time to go! The sheer number and variety of birds throughout the basin is awe inspiring! The waterfowl migration is nearing its peak from mid-March through mid-April, and the eagles and hawks remain abundant in the same period, so now is the time to plan a trip.
On a recent outing in February we encountered dozens of Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Harriers, countless numbers of Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese, and large numbers of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Mallards, Coots, Wigeons, Common and Hooded Mergansers and Great-blue Herons. You might also see Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcon, Kestrel and Great Horned Owl.
The best viewing is along Township Road which intersects Highway 97 at Worden (itʼs unsigned at the intersection, but is the only continuous road leaving 97 towards the east at the south side of town – look for a large brick farmhouse on the right after turning on to Township Rd). Follow Township Road several miles east and look for Hawks and Eagles working the flooded agricultural fields for voles and the like. Youʼll also encounter Tundra Swans and Snow Geese here. Work your way southeast to Stateline Road (Highway 161) and then towards Tule Lake and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge Visitorʼs Center off of Hill Rd. (consult a map for precise route). Here the friendly staff can provide you with a daily sighting journal with a map along with several brochures. After making the rounds near Tule Lake return to Stateline Road and make one of the Auto-Tours described in the handouts through the Lower Klamath Lake Refuge. Near the western end of the tour route, before returning to Stateline Road, look for Bald Eagles perched in the only group of sizable trees in the vicinity just a cross a small canal from the road.
The most convenient way to get to the Klamath Basin from Ashland is to go up Dead Indian Memorial Highway to Clover Creek Road and then on to the small town of Keno.Drive into Keno then take a left onto Keno-Worden Road which in turn leads to the south side of Worden at Highway 97. You can also go directly up Highway 66 to Keno (slower), but you can stop at the Greensprings Inn for breakfast or dinner!
If you go be sure to plan well for all weather contingencies for yourself and your automobile and of course adhere to all the birding ethics of the American Birding Association.
Call or stop by the store for more information and details ( we have a limited supply of Klamath Basin Refuge and Klamath Basin Birding Trail pamphlets available for free which describe in detail routes and highlights).
Go soon and see you there!