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The ODFW Visitors' Guide


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Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Bird Watching

These birding areas cover mosthabitat types that are easily accessible. There are additional access pointssurrounding the project that also provide excellent wildlife viewing and birdingopportunities. Please note any regulatory signs, as some units may haveseasonal closures in effect to protect wintering waterfowl.

yellow bird
Black-headed Grosbeak at Kirk Park
-Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

View from the trail at Royal Ave.
-Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Coyote Creek Canoe Acess
-Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Highway 126 sign to Fern Ridge
-Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Kirk Park/Pond - North of the parking lot on the west end of Kirk Pond is a road bordered by the outlet canal and a small pond. On the north side of the pond a trail leads east into an old orchard and a large mixed woods area with much undergrowth. The east end of Kirk Park is a good place to find wrentits and many other songbirds. Pied-billed grebes and wood ducks and diving ducks are often found on Kirk Pond adjacent to Clear Lake Road. Bonapare's gulls can be found feeding in the outlet canal in late October and early November.

West End of Dam, Orchard Point Park and Shore Lane - These locations are great for searching the open water and shore of the west. Gulls, great egrets, and migrating and wintering waterbirds can be seen from here in the proper season. The birds are usually some distance away, so bring a scope or binoculars. Bald eagles are often seen from here in winter along with cormorants and western grebes. During the winter, morning and evening flights of waterfowl provide spectacular viewing opportunities as flocks of ducks, geese, and swans enter and depart the area.

Royal Avenue - Drive to the west end of the road and park along the road away from the gate. Acorn woodpeckers are fairly common in the large oaks east of the gate. In the immediate vicinity of the gate are tall shrubs, shrubby fields, and grasslands. This area is excellent for sparrows. West of the gate, the road leads into canary grass and cattail marsh, and eventually into bulrush. Virginia rail, sora, American bittern, mallard, American coot, Canada geese, pied-billed grebes, common yellowthroat, white-tailed kite, marsh wren, short eared owl, and northern harrier are birds that can be seen here. During the winter and during water level decline one can walk beyond the vegetation area to the mudflat expanse exposed at low pool. Old gravel roads provide access to Gibson Island during low pool conditions, however boots are recommended for this lengthy hike.

Fisher Butte Parking Lot - Just west of Fisher Road is a gated gravel road heading north from 126 (West 11th) towards Fisher Butte. A marked trail leads the hiker down the road through wet low prarie and flooded impoundment areas. During the winter winter one can see concentrations of waterfowl, shrikes, raptors, and large flocks of sparrows. Winter waterfowl viewing is best in morning and evening. Canada geese using the area from November through April include dusky Canada geese. The planted cropland areas are provided exclusively for wildlife food crops. Please be aware that this unit is frequented by waterfowl hunters in the fall, and winter closures may be in effect. The parking areas provides viewing year-round.

Nielson Road and Cantrell Road - Two parking areas are found along this stretch of road. The cropland and moist soil units adjacent to the parking lots are excellent for all kinds of wintering waterfowl. Raptors, sparrows, shrikes, goldfinches, and blackbirds are also common. Late in the season, wintering flocks of waterfowl, including swans, can often be found in the wet grass fields adjacent to the roads. Please note that waterfowl hunters may be present in the fall, and winter waterfowl and raptor viewing from the parking areas can be amazing, particularly near dusk.

Coyote Creek - Park on either side of the Coyote Creek bridge where it crosses on Cantrell Road. On the east side, a nature trail leads through the riparian woodland where wood ducks and a variety of woodland species can be found along the creek and near the exposed treeline. On the west side of Coyote Creek is a picnic area and canoe access site. The waterway provides meandering access to the lake leading through wood duck habitat and out to the lake near osprey nests and purple martin colonies. At reservoir full-pool creek is excellent for flat-water canoeing, however Coyote Creek is not navigable from mid-October through March because of high flows and dangerous currents. Please check for regulatory signs that may indicate winter closures.

Perkins Peninsula Park - This park is located on a small peninsula that offers and excellent view of the reservoir in the summer and mudflats in the winter. This is also a good place to view osprey nests and marsh to the east and west. There are large oaks, apple trees, willows, pines, and Douglas-fir which are good places to find migrant passerines. A boardwalk leads out into a marshy bay on the west side of the park. Picnic tables and restrooms are available. The park is closed to motor vehicles during winter months but remains open year-round for foot traffic.

Hwy 126 (West 11th) viewing area - West of Perkins Peninsula Park (2/3 mi) is a pullout on the north side of the highway overlooking the lake. Yellow-headed blackbirds nest here and purple martins can be observed using the nest boxes on snags visible from here. Both species breed at other locations on the lake but these areas generally are inaccessible except by boat. American coots, great egrets, redwinged blackbirds, and a variety of waterfowl are frequently visible from this site.

Zuwalt Park - Several parking areas are located along Jeans Road providing access. A variety of habitats are available here: marsh, grasslands, shrubs, willows, mixed hardwoods, and Douglas fir, as well as the lake shoreline. Pileated woodpeckers utilize the older stands of firs towards the north end of this unit and wild turkeys may be seen in this vicinity.

Long Tom River - Applegate Unit - Located half way between Veneta and Elmira on Territorial Road is a parking lot on the east side of the road. Canoe access to the Long Tom River is provided here, as well as trail access for hiking along the river and through the woodlands and open meadows. Canoeing down the main river channel provides access to the lake. The old river channel that forks to the left shortly downstream from the access point meanders through a dense woodland understory. Log jams may present some difficulty on the channels. Wood ducks, turkeys, osprey, and thrushes may be found in this area.

Applegate Unit - North Elmira Site - Immediately north of Elmira on the east side of Territorial Road is a parking area that provides access to wildlife lands. A wide area of open and woodland habitats are present here as well as hiking access to the Long Tom River channels. Great blue herons forage in the shallow swales near the lake and marsh wrens and red-winged blackbirds can be found in the cattail marshes during the summer. Snipe can be observed in the wet grasslands during the winter months.

Back to Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

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