Cold Springs NWR.

This weekend I wanted to visit somewhere new so I picked a random spot from Birding Oregon and headed out...   I ended up near Hermiston at Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge.

Between I-84 and the refuge are cows, farms, more cows, some horses, and these hawks:

They look to me like Swainson's Hawks with the lighter patches on the face... I could be wrong (as always).

I eventually arrived at the refuge after stopping to check Google Maps on my phone a couple times..  There are no signs from the "main" roads and the directions from Birding Oregon were vague at best.

The refuge consists of several parking areas with trails to different areas of the Cold Springs Reservoir.  The trails pass through cottonwoods and willows while the rest of the refuge consists of sagebrush fields.

My first find:

The willows were filled with warblers...  A Townsend's Warbler:

A new one for me!

Jake and I walked along the reservoir shoreline for quite awhile...

It got pretty hot quickly and I decided to head back to find a motel nearby... The next morning we got an early start just before sunrise.

Along one of the farm roads was a deer carcass... I was sad to see some beautiful Black-billed Magpies doing something very gross...

Ok no more dead stuff.  Back at the refuge some (live) deer were enjoying the morning...

As well as some Western Grebes...

A pair of Greater Yellowlegs were wading near us...

Did I mention it was a beautiful morning?

Some shorebirds flew by... and then flew by again... and again...

I am assuming they are Western Sandpipers based on really bad close-up photos I'd rather not share :)

On my way out of the refuge I stopped to admire some sunflowers growing along a fence..

So pretty!

While I was stopped I noticed a bird in a field on the other side of the road...

What the heck is this bird??? I don't even know where to begin!  Seriously, help!  If you have any ideas at all let me know!!  Unfortunately this is the best picture I got of him... ***Thank you for the help! It's a Western Meadowlark!

On my way home I stopped by the Umatilla NWR and was super disappointed... On the auto tour I saw more hunters than birds.  I think I took one picture of a California Quail's butt as it dashed into a bush.  Boo!  Cold Springs was a fun little trip though.  I imagine it's even more impressive during migrations...


  1. The bird in the last photos looks like a Western Meadowlark to me. Long straight bill, striped head, appropriate habitat. It looks like you had a great trip. It can be a challenge to bird during hunting season. Some refuges allow hunting on certain days of the week, so you can plan your birding trips on the off days.

  2. Nice series of photos. I agree that your mystery bird is a meadowlark. Esp like the townsends's and the swainson's. I saw the latter when driving across the prairie in alberta, but unable to stop - so only a passing view

  3. A meadowlark, thank you! Apparently I can't recognize one without seeing the chest marking or some yellow!

  4. wow! Your pictures and observations are lovely.

    We're hardly raptor ID experts, but those pictures at the top of the blog look like a Peregrine Falcon to us. They are definitely accipters, not buteos.

    Thanks for the post!! Makes us wish we were out West..

    Warren and Lisa

  5. Thanks for visiting my blog! As for the Swainson's Hawks... I don't believe they are Peregrines- I've never seen ones with so much dark on their chest and their eyes don't seem quite right. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

  6. Hi Jen Some great images from Cold Springs. From my experience I agree with you .. the hawk is NOT a Peregrine. Checking my copy of Sibley the dark upper breast band and facial markings would suggest a Swainson's. FAB.


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