The Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon

Oregon is a fascinating state that provides its many residents with beautiful outdoor environments close to expansive and exciting cities. It is a common destination for Pacific birders because cities like Portland provide big-city amenities with multiple sanctuaries and birding destinations not far from their downtown district. 

If you plan on visiting Portland and want to spot a few birds during your trip, check out these destinations! Each has different amenities that make them worth consideration, including multiple species that are specialized to specific regions throughout the Oregon area. We promise you can’t go wrong with these spots!

Portland Audobon Society

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Portland Audobon Society
Image by Finetooth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Address: 5151 NW Cornell Road, Portland, OR 97210
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (503) 292-9453 
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset: Store open daily from 10-5.
  • Birds you’ll see: Northern Pygmy Owls, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Wilson’s Warblers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Varied Thrush, Steller’s Jays, Pacific Wrens, Pileated Woodpeckers

The Portland Audubon Society is one of the most popular birding destinations in Oregon and provides myriad unique experiences. Located not far from downtown Portland, this sanctuary mixes old- and new-growth forests to produce a fascinating array of birding options for birders. As a result, you can stay in town, enjoy some fresh food, and go birding whenever you want.

While exploring the 172-acre forest around the sanctuary, you can check out the wildlife care center to learn more about birds, visit the nature store to buy gear for your trip, visit an interpretive center to learn more about the species in the area, and travel multiple trails to identify birds.  This should make it easier to find just about any species you want.

These long trails wind through the park in multiple areas, providing maximum bird viewing options. It is reasonably easy to identify numerous species if you bring the proper gear. This group also provides volunteering opportunities for those who want to help out birds in Oregon. It’s the kind of destination that’s a perfect place to start or even end your birding tirp.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

  • Address: 36391 Sodhouse Lane, Princeton, OR 97721-9502
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (541) 493-2612
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset: Office hours, Monday-Thursday 7-4:30 and Friday 7-3:30.
  • Birds you’ll see: avocets, stilts, willets, coots, Forster’s terns, Canada geese, night herons, great blue herons, Farallon cormorants, eared grebes
Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
(Image By Oregon Department of Transportation – Buena Vista Overlook, Jeff Sorn. Uploaded by Smallman12q, CC BY 2.0,

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a remarkable place to birdwatch in Oregon. It provides you with access to many different bird species and events that you may enjoy. These include birdwatching expeditions, celebrations, and other unique activities that will engage birding fans. 

Visitors can explore over 143 square miles on the property, including multiple options for picnics, camping, and more. Visitors can also get involved in the park by cleaning it up and volunteering to help with various activities, donating their time and energy to keep the park solid and attractive.

This refuge is also an excellent place for fans of other animals to visit because there are many species in the area. In this way, you should easily enjoy your visit and experience the kind of hands-on fun that the best Oregon national wildlife refuges have to offer.

Related post: Best Birdwatching Locations in Scotland

Boiler Bay Wayside

  • Address: 725 Summer Street NE, Suite C, Salem, OR 97301
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (503) 986-0707 
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset. 
  • Birds you’ll see: shearwaters, jaegers, albatrosses, pelicans, grebes, murrelets, loons, oystercatchers
Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Image taken from Boiler Bay Wayside

Boiler Bay Wayside is a popular park that’s been in operation since 1926 and provides maximum birding opportunities at no cost. You can even spot a sunken ship just off the shore, seeing its boiler sticking just above the surface. In addition, many seabirds nest or roost near this boiler, making it an excellent place to watch.

Visitors here get easy access to comfortable picnic areas, flushable bathrooms, and a beautiful view of Oregon’s cost. So if you’re looking for Pacific sea birds and can’t find them anywhere else, try this destination to improve your chances immeasurably.

Remember that this destination is also a familiar whale-watching spot! You might even see whales interacting with birds, such as letting birds rest on their back to remove various parasites that cling to their skin. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity shouldn’t be missed.

Zumwalt Prairie Preserve 

  • Address: Zumwalt Creek, Northern California, CA, United States
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (541) 426-3458
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset.
  • Birds you’ll see: Ferruginous Hawks, Swainson’s Hawk, Vesper Sparrow, Horned Lark, Savannah Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Prairie Falcon, Grasshopper Sparrow.
Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
The Zumwalt Prairie Preserve with Lightning Creek and the Wallowa Mountains in the background.
Image from Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons

Zumwalt Prairie is the kind of place that you could spend your whole life exploring and never see all of it. It consists of 160,000 acres or over 200 square miles of land over forests, grasslands, and water. It’s a beautiful place to visit and includes multiple trails and picnic destinations for birders.

While visiting, it is crucial to follow the rules, such as staying on the trail at all times and avoiding bringing dogs. There are sitting areas where you can rest and plan your birding expedition and tables where you can eat and relax during a long birding trip. 

Note that this preserve is not a campground, and you shouldn’t camp here and must report anyone you do see camping. Beyond these simple rules (as well as not riding any vehicles in the preserve or on its trails), this is a perfect place to go birding and offers plenty of unique opportunities.

Related post: Best Places in the Rocky Mountains to Go Birdwatching

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
Image from commons wiki.
  • Address: Klamath Basin NWR National Wildlife Refuge, 4001 Hill Rd, Tulelake, CA, 96134
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (530) 667-2231
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset: office from 9-4, Monday-Friday.
  • Birds you’ll see: Sandpiper, seagulls, Horned Lark, herons, cormorants, White Pelican, white-faced ibis, Canadian geese, Baird’s Sandpiper

This refuge is a 50,092-acre area with marshes, open water, grassy uplands, croplands, plains, and much more, providing plenty of birding opportunities. It is prevalent during the spring and fall migrations, with about 80% of all birds that live in the refuge being visible at this time.

It is a significant birding area because 25 species in the region are threatened or sensitive. Its protected nature means that these birds are safer here, allowing you to take unimpeded photos of beautiful species and get the fantastic shots you want for your collection. 

You can also volunteer here, if you like, or visit and explore the multiple trails throughout the region, including paths that give you perfect views of eagles nesting just a few miles from the massive 14,000-foot Mount Shasta, one of the largest and more impressive of all Oregon mountains.

Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge
Image from Commons Wiki
  • Address: Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 2127 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR 97365
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (541) 867-4550
  • Open: Year-round, from sunrise to sunset: office 7-4, Monday through Friday.
  • Birds you’ll see: Common Murres, Double-Crested Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Pelagic Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers.

Like many Oregon wildlife refuges, this destination is open year-round, weather permitting, and provides a beautiful view of the coastal region. You’ll also see rocky islands, vertical coastal cliffs, old-growth forests, as well as headlands topped with hemlock and other beautiful trees. 

All these elements make it a perfect place to go birding, especially if you’re trying to spot some rare and hard-to-find birds. The species available throughout this park are among the most diverse in the region. Thankfully, there are several well-maintained trails and benches where you can rest on your trip.

Visitors can also walk on hiking trails and check out various viewing decks, the lighthouse, and much more. These unique opportunities make Cape Meares a fascinating place to visit and a common destination not just for birdwatchers but any nature lover in Oregon.

Add to your European birdwatching bucket list these awesome birding spots in Spain!

Summer Lake Wildlife Area

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Summer Lake Wildlife Area
Image from Commons Wiki Attibuted to Flickr user fishermansdaughter – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,
  • Address: 53447 Hwy. 31, Summer Lake, OR 97640
  • Cost: Free for visitors: small daily fee for camping that varies by year
  • Phone: (541) 943-3152
  • Open: Year-round, sunset to sunrise. 

Birds you’ll see: tundra and trumpeter swans, cinnamon and American green-winged teal, northern shoveler, least and western sandpipers, sandhill cranes, American coot

Summer Lake Wildlife Area is a popular nature destination established in 1944 to protect various animals and provide a beautiful environment. It is a popular wildlife viewing and hunting destination and offers multiple amenities for birdwatchers, especially those settling in for a long-term viewing session.

Nearby, you can also visit Ana Reservoir, which has a boat ramp you can use to go fishing. You can even camp and picnic in this area or use the boating ramp to go birding out on the water. Whatever you want, you should have plenty of options to have fun at this birding destination. 

There are four primitive campgrounds, meaning you won’t get electricity or water. However, you do get access to multiple restrooms, as well as various trails throughout the area. Hunting from late August through January should be noted and prepared to avoid accidents or injuries.

Crater Lake National Park

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
  • Address: Crater Lake National Park, PO Box 7, Crater Lake, OR 97604
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (541) 594-3000
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset.

Birds you’ll see: red-breasted sapsucker, sooty grouse, Vaux’s swift, Townsend’s solitaire, Steller’s jay, mountain chickadee

While Crater Lake National Park isn’t commonly known as a birding destination, it’s hard to deny that it has many amenities that make it useful for birders like you. Its large and expansive park includes many viewing areas where you can sit, relax, and view birds in their natural environments. 

It is particularly popular as a winter destination because people will explore the lake (the deepest in the nation) and go skiing, snowshoeing, and much more. You can also climb the mountains around the area and view the Cascade Mountain Range relatively easily. 

Before visiting, check out their regularly updated webcams, which provide a view of the park’s most beautiful locations. Use these webcams to spot common nesting destinations, or get lucky and see your dream bird fly by before you book a trip to this fantastic destination.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge
Image by Owen Lloyd – Own work, Public Domain,
  • Address: 2301 Wintel Road, Jefferson, OR 97352-9758
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (503) 588-2701
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset.
  • Birds you’ll see: Canadian goose, gulls, sooty grouse, trumpeter swans, common murres, black oystercatchers 

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge sits at the banks of the Santiam and Willamette Rivers. These long, flowing rivers provide plenty of moisture for the surrounding land, drawing in various birds throughout the season. It is popular as a wintering destination for different geese species. 

As a result, this option is great if there are any geese you haven’t yet spotted and want to track in your birding books. Canadian geese are probably the most common bird in this region, though there are many other geese, gulls, and other species that you can view when visiting here. 

Like all Oregon state parks, Ankeny has several areas to picnic, hiking trails, and broad expanses to relax with your family. Many people come to this area simply to relax, which may be helpful for people involved in extensive, long-term birding experiences.

Related post: Best Spots for Birdwatching in Alaska

Fort Stevens State Park

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon
Fort Stevens State Park
Image by runarut, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Address: 1675 Peter Iredale Rd, Hammond, OR 97121
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: (503) 986-0707
  • Open: Year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Birds you’ll see: song sparrow, American crow, American robin, Spotted towhee, black-capped chickadee, European starling, Anna’s hummingbird

Fort Stevens is a popular state park with over 800 acres that provides plenty of unique birding opportunities. While smaller than some of the parks on this list, this more concentrated section of land makes it easier to explore and spot various birds throughout the region. 

This campground is also excellent due to its multiple amenities, including 174 hookup sites where you can camp in style, as well as 302 electrical sites with water, six tent sits, 15 pet-friendly yurts, 11 pet-friendly cabins, a hiker and biker camp, flush toilets, hot showers, and RV dump stations. 

These amenities make it a popular destination for birders who don’t want to rough it, though you may have to go outside the beaten track to find birds during busy seasons. Thankfully, Fort Stevens should be large enough to let you explore these areas at your leisure.

Related post: The Best Places for Birding in Maine!

Resources – The Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon

Best Places for Birdwatching in Oregon

These handy websites have lots more information about birdwatching in Oregon. Enjoy traveling to this unique area for fantastic scenery and wildlife.

Check out where you can sight hawks as they migrate over states!