Five Best Birdwatching Spots in Tualatin Valley
Check Off Your Birding “Life List” in Tualatin Valley
Many species of birds live in Tualatin Valley year-round, and dozens of species are just “passing through” during the fall and spring migration seasons. In fact, more than 100 different species can be regularly found here, from the perennial abundance of Mallard ducks to the rare seasonal sightings of the Snow Goose.
Oregon is undoubtedly one of the finer places in the country for birding, as it’s filled with a rich mixture of habitats. The state is also fortunate to be far enough north that it’s the summer home of many birds, yet far enough south that it’s the winter home of many others.
Located just minutes from Portland, Tualatin Valley is filled with excellent and often lively bird and wildlife habitats. So, bring your binoculars, scopes and cameras (but leave Fido behind, as pets are not allowed in the region’s nature parks, refuges and preserves) and head out on an Oregon birding and wildlife adventure at these top five bird watching spots. (Most nature parks and refuges are open from dawn ’til dusk.)
Just 10 miles from Portland, the honking of geese replaces the honking of cars at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is home to nearly 200 species of birds; more than 50 species of mammals; 25 species of reptiles and amphibians; and a wide variety of insects, fish and plants. The 3.1-mile main nature trail is open year-round, is wheelchair friendly and has interpretive signage along the route. Due to the diversity and richness of habitats, the Refuge supports some of the most abundant and varied wildlife in the watershed, and serves as a key stopover on the Pacific Flyway. Download a map of the Refuge >>> Download the “Watchable Wildlife” checklist >>>
Killin Wetlands is the newest nature park in Tualatin Valley and the Portland Region. The park has more than 370 acres of lush habitat for flora and fauna alike. The park is a vibrant location for bird watching with one of the highest densities of the American Bittern in all of Oregon. From the observation deck, you may also see Greater Yellowlegs, Mallards, and Double-Crested Cormorants. The nature park also boasts easy walking trails for a tranquil nature outing. Download the Killin Wetlands Field Guide >>> Download the Greater Portland Bird Checklist >>>
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is an expansive 635-acre wildlife preserve–a complex of wetlands and uplands within the Tualatin River floodplain–featuring year-round wildlife viewing from 4.5 miles of trails, wildlife viewing blinds and viewing deck. At the preserve, nesting birds include bald eagles, osprey, great horned owls and red-tailed hawks. Download Jackson Bottom Wetland’s “Bird Species Checklist” (PDF)
Overlooking the Tualatin Valley, the 230-acre Cooper Mountain Nature Park features 3½ miles of trails of varying difficulty that traverse the park and pass through a mosaic of distinct habitats: oak and madrone woodlands, native prairies, and conifer forests. Birds often seen here include mourning doves, black-headed grosbeaks, Steller’s jays, western bluebirds and red-winged blackbirds. Grand views of the Chehalem Mountains and the valley below provide visitors a chance to spot soaring raptors, such as bald eagles and red-tailed hawks.
Fernhill Wetlands, located near the confluence of Gales Creek with the Tualatin River, is a world-class destination for birders who come to see rare migratory birds and waterfowl. The site encompasses nearly 800 acres and attracts various wildlife, including herons, hawks, eagles, beavers, otters and mink. This is an ideal place to spot migratory birds and waterfowl, and short trails and viewing stands make it easy to view the myriad wildlife. (NOTE: Parts of the Fernhill Lake Loop Trail will be closed through October, due to construction.)
Connect with nature and explore wildlife while walking through a protected nature park. Explore the forest, revel in the sights and take in the beauty of the valley.
Our hotels are close to Portland and have many urban amenities, but are only a fraction of the cost. Plus, parking is always free, and our hotels do not charge any amenity/resort fees!
The Quilt Barn Trail highlights Tualatin Valley’s agricultural and historical heritage and showcases public art pieces celebrating the art of quilting.