So here’s my confession:  I’m not very good with bird identification.  I am getting better – I even used our guidebook to help me learn that one of our regular summer visitors at the B&B is the Red-Necked Grosbeak.  That was an exciting moment for me.

But whether I know my birds or not, I do know where to go see them.  The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is just 10 miles north of Newberg along the Tualatin River, one of the many tributaries of the Willamette River.  The land was set aside in 1992 and the folks there have been working hard ever since to turn it back into the floodplain it once was.  That means there are unique seasons of bird populations year-round.  When it’s cold and damp in the winter, the Refuge averages 20,000 waterfowl a day!  Some days it’s so crowded you can’t see much water for the birds.  This counts as many as six species of Canada Geese (see, I didn’t know there were that many different kinds!) and five species of duck.  

Working for food on the underside of a branch, the Downy Woodpecker barely noticed us.

As the weather warms up, we see a lot of migrating songbirds set up house in the Refuge.  Last time Curt and I went out in mid winter, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles, a Downy Woodpecker and a Red-winged Blackbird (and many other birds I couldn’t identify). 

I’m working on learning more about the birds in the valley and regular visits to some of the 1850 acres of the Refuge is a part of my plan.  It has a beautiful new Wildlife Center open Tuesday through Sunday, 10-4.  From dawn to dusk, the one-mile long nature trail with interpretive signs is open year round and an additional 3 miles of trails are open from May through September.  There is a well developed forest area, a river area, some marshlands and some young saplings that should be fun to watch as they mature. 

The main visitor entrance to the Tualatin River NWR is located at 19255 SW Pacific Highway (Hwy 99) just north of Sherwood, OR.  Admission is free.

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