Whether you’re grabbing shots of birds or mammals, reptiles or amphibians, we’d love to see your results. When you submit your photos to ODFW they could appear on our website or signs, or in social or brochures. What a great way to share your experience with others!
There are red-tailed, rough-legged and ferruginous hawks, northern harriers, American kestrels, prairie falcons and golden eagles throughout Crook County and they’re usually associated more closely with open/agricultural areas. Bald eagles and osprey, on the other hand, are more closely associated with water bodies. Look for northern goshawks throughout the Ochoco National Forest, and for ducklings and goslings in rivers and lakes.
The Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area offers access to view a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, otter, beaver, raptors, shorebirds and waterfowl. Maps of the wildlife area are available at the Prineville ODFW office, at Prineville Reservoir State Park office and the . Vehicles must remain on open roads, designated by a green dot, and cross-country motorized travel is prohibited.
Weather conditions in the high desert are unpredictable at this time of year. Nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing and it’s not unusual to experience the occasional snow squall during the day. However, nice days and warmer conditions are also on the menu and that encourages reptiles to venture out from their rocky winter residence. A good way to tell if it’s warm enough for reptile activity is to touch the rocks. If they feel warm, you can expect to see lizards around rock piles and snakes around ponds and wetlands, where you are also likely to hear Pacific tree frogs and see small packets of their eggs attached to vegetation below the water line.
Drivers should be aware that the Cascades Lakes Highway, between Mount Bachelor Village and the Hwy 42 junction south of Crane Prairie Reservoir, and Hwy. 242 connecting Sisters to the west side of the Cascade Mountains close during the winter. For information on current road conditions we recommend you visit or call Deschutes County Road maintenance (541 388-6581). A little research before heading into the high country can save you major problems.
Wickiup and Crane Prairie Reservoirs are good areas to see bald eagles, common loon, horned grebe and tree swallows.
Smith Rock State Park in northeast Deschutes county in a good place to see both bald and golden eagles. Also look for yellow-bellied marmots (a favorite food item for golden eagles) out and about on warm sunny days.
Other good birding locations include Camp Polk Meadows, located a few miles northeast of Sisters on Camp Polk Road, where there is a wide variety of birds this time of year. Visitors to the meadows are likely to see American kestrel, great horned owl, multiple warbler species, kingfisher, Virginia rail, Wilson’s snipe, California quail, hairy and downy woodpeckers, pygmy nuthatches, mourning doves and western bluebirds to name a few.
Other wildlife viewing areas include Tumalo Reservoir (west of Highway 20 between Sister and Bend); Pelton Dam wildlife overlook and Lake Simtustus (Deschutes River northwest of Madras); and Hatfield Lakes (just north of the Bend airport). Look for Canada geese, American wigeon, green-winged teal, bufflehead, ring-necked ducks, northern shovelers, lesser scaup, common and Barrow’s goldeneye, multiple gull species, and various grebes including horned, eared, western, and Clark’s, along with deer, rabbits, and a variety of other mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Bird watching is not just limited to wild places, as residents and visitors to Bend can watch an osprey pair nesting adjacent to the Parkway that runs through the city. Other opportunities to view a diversity of bird species (and other wildlife) without leaving Bend include areas along the trails that follow the Deschutes River.
Whether you’re interested in song birds, waterfowl or raptors, and prefer remote birding locations or those closer to urban areas, directions to a long list of great birding locations can be found at the ’s web site. 04/24/19
THE DALLES DISTRICT
The Lower Deschutes River provides ample wildlife viewing opportunities. California bighorn sheep are frequently observed in the canyon and can provide fantastic viewing all times of the year. The best spot to view sheep is from the BLM access road just downstream and across the river from Sherars Falls (along Hwy 216). Focus your efforts near large cliff complexes for best viewing.
You can also see sheep from The Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area access trail on the east side of the river by hiking up from the mouth of the river. Sheep can be seen as low as river mile 7 or 8.
The John Day River Canyon also is home to bighorn Sheep but access is a bit more limited. The easiest place to access the canyon is at Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Hike up or downstream from the access point to look for sheep.
Oak woodlands throughout Hood River and Wasco counties provide food and cover for many wildlife species. Acorns from these trees are a particularly important fall and early winter food source for western gray squirrels and deer. This time of year, you may also notice acorn woodpeckers storing acorns within small holes they create in dead oak limbs for use later in the year.
Other woodpeckers such as Lewis’s woodpeckers may be found scouring live and dead oak trees for insects found in the wood. Even fallen oak limbs decomposing on the ground can provide havens for reptiles and amphibians looking for refuge from late summer heat.
You can see a variety of common raptor species throughout the Mid-Columbia district. Common wintering species include red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, golden eagle, bald eagle, American kestrel, and northern harrier. Other less commonly seen species include prairie falcon, and peregrine falcon.
As days get colder, wintering waterfowl will show up along the Columbia River. There sill be large rafts of American coot, greater and lesser scaup, and ring-necked ducks throughout the Mid-Columbia. Other waterfowl species include American wigeon, mallard, gadwall, Canada geese, green-winged Teal, northern pintail, northern shoveler, redhead, canvasback, common goldeneye, bufflehead, and common merganser. The best viewing is on very cold and snowy days. Many of the state parks throughout the gorge, including Mayer State Park, offer great viewing opportunities.
The Columbia River attracts large numbers of wintering bald eagles that you can see throughout the district. A great place to see them congregate is at The Dalles Dam.
There also are great wildlife viewing opportunities on The Woosley Tract of Lower Deschutes Wildlife area. The area includes many unique bird species as well as bighorn sheep. You can get to this area through BLM lands at the mouth of Oak, Ferry or Ward canyons. You will need a boat to access the area, which provides a very remote experience, with very few, if any, other people around. Please call The Dalles district office at 541 296 4628 with any questions about getting to the area.
Photography opportunities for deer and elk are good right now. You’ll see both bulls and bucks throughout the wildlife area. With the amount of snow in the mountains now, more animals are moving down into the wildlife area with the opportunity to see bigger groups of deer and elk. If you’re traveling on or near the wildlife area, be alert for big game animals, particularly deer and elk, crossing the road.
The wildlife area is also home to many other game and nongame species. Look for wild turkeys foraging, skunks, coyotes, the occasional river otter and muskrat in waterways and black bear or cougar as they move throughout the wildlife area.
It is also possible to see bald eagles and golden eagles on the Wildlife Area. You can spot other raptors such as red-tailed hawks, American kestrels and northern harriers hunting their prey. Look for birds perched on powerlines/poles, fences and trees.
Lewis’ woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, flickers, western meadowlarks, Steller’s jays, scrub jays, gray jays, Townsend’s solitaire, horned larks, golden-crowed kinglets, and robins are all at home on the wildlife area. A variety of ducks and geese are in the area and more will arrive with future inclement weather.
You can also find many reptiles and amphibians around the wildlife area in the spring, summer and fall. In warmer temperatures look for bullfrogs, newts and other smaller species near bodies of water. Be on the lookout for a variety of snakes including garter snakes, bull snakes and the poisonous western rattlesnake.
A parking permit is required to park at White River Wildlife Area. Find out .
Current road and weather conditions: Travel is allowed only on roads that are designated by the green dot. Many of the roads are now closed for winter to protect the roads and wintering wildlife. All of the wildlife area north of Badger Creek road is closed to all public access Dec. 1 through March 31. Look for road information maps at entrances to the wildlife area. Very cold and snowy weather is upon us. Many of the roads are icy so be prepared and drive carefully.