NEW! When Steve Shunk, guide and author of the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America, joined Naturalist Journeys, he brought expertise and familiarity with Oregon and the Pacific Northwest to us – perfect timing as Woody Wheeler, a long-time and popular guide based in Seattle, retired. Steve hails from the Bend/Sisters area and his signature tour is based from here, with fun accommodations at a combination hotel, brewery and restaurant which serves as home base for all five nights.
In addition to being known as America’s Woodpecker Wonderland, join Steve to experience some of the best bird diversity in North America, with over 200 breeding species. In the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, join us in celebrating Oregon as summer commences!
The tour starts and ends in Bend, Oregon which has a great western vibe, a fun small city with mountain vistas, pine forests and the Deschutes River at hand. This short tour is a set at a great pace with accommodations in one hotel for five nights. Unpack once and get birding with full days of on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains. Then return to great food and a few brews, all close by!
Each day explore a broad diversity of habitats, from riparian woodland to burned coniferous forest. Our daily itinerary will take us in search of 11 nesting woodpecker species – incredible! Wander through recently burned forests in search of Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers; enjoy mature cottonwood and aspen galleries in search of three different sapsuckers; and visit older burns and mature mixed-conifer forest for Lewis's and Pileated Woodpeckers, respectively. Each day, we will encounter ponderosa pine forest, where we should find Williamson's Sapsucker and White-headed Woodpecker.
- Travel with experts – our guide, Steve Shunk is author of the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. He calls our route Woodpecker Wonderland and you can expect to find 11 nesting woodpecker species!
- Immerse yourself in the magic of a mountain spring – June is lush with wildflowers in bloom, bird song abundant and snow still decorating the mountain vistas.
- Unpack once – stay in delightful digs in downtown Bend
- Listen to Quaking Aspen trees trembling in the breeze while looking at the day-glow colors of Lazuli Bunting and Western Tanager
- Watch Vaux’s Swift acrobatic in the sky against backdrop views of the snow-clad Cascades
- Watch Osprey harass Bald Eagle carrying fish over scenic mountain lakes with Bufflehead and Barrow’s Goldeneye down below
- Learn how fire ecology has made a mosaic of habitat prime for birds across varied habitats
- End great days of birding with top-rate local foods and a fabulous selection of brews and wine from the region
Mon., June 7: Arrive in Redmond | Bend Oregon | Delightful Lodgings in Bend
Please plan to arrive at the Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) for Deschutes County and Bend, by 2PM to allow time for some afternoon birding as well as to check into our accommodations. If you need to arrive after this group transfer time, it’s about a 15-minute drive into Bend and there is a shuttle service you can book in advance to meet your flight.
In Bend, we will spend five nights at McMenamin's hotel at the historic Old St. Francis School. Construction on the original school began in early 1925, and the first class graduated later that year. Minor expansions occurred in the 1950s, but a major project in 1968 included the construction of a cafeteria, stage, gym, and meeting rooms. In 2000, the school relocated, and the property was purchased by McMenamin’s. The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, started their business in 1983, and the company has become a northwest institution, with historic venues converted to tourism properties throughout Oregon and Washington. You will thoroughly enjoy your stay here, and you should be prepared to spend some time in the on-site Turkish bath!
Enjoy a welcome dinner and chance to get to know your traveling companions. The brews are on us tonight!
Accommodations at the Old Saint Francis School hotel, Bend (D)
Tues., June 8 – Fri., June 11: Four Full Days Birding Woodpecker Wonderland!
Woodpecker searching gives us the framework for our days, but the diverse habitats in the region will expose us to a correspondingly diverse array of breeding species and late migrants. The eastern slope of the Cascades is characterized by stratified montane habitats that range from juniper woodlands to alpine tundra. Several factors contribute to this diversity phenomenon:
• The annual rainfall gradient from the Cascades crest to the Ponderosa Pine forest ranges from
120 inches to 10 inches in as few as 10 miles; this is ‘rain equivalent’, as most precipitation falls
as snow. This horizontal gradient results in narrow bands of habitat, each of which is adapted to a different amount of precipitation.
• Several significant streams and two rivers flow from the eastern slope, supporting riparian habitats characterized by aspen, willow, alder, and other streamside vegetation.
• ‘Natural’ fire regimes in the region vary by elevation and habitat type, with more frequent, less intense fires typical at lower elevation pine forests and high-intensity, infrequent fires at higher-elevation mixed-conifer forests.
• All fires burn in a mosaic of intensities, with patches of high- intensity, mixed intensity, and low intensity fire interspersed throughout a given fire perimeter.
These factors combine to support nearly 150 species of breeding birds. Lakes in the region host nesting Hooded and Common Mergansers, as well as Bufflehead and Barrow's Goldeneye. Osprey and Bald Eagle occur along the shorelines, with Spotted Sandpipers just arriving on breeding territories. This is an excellent time of year for hummingbirds, with resident Anna's being met by migrant—and locally nesting—Rufous and Calliope. We find excellent study opportunities for Empidonax flycatchers, with Hammond's, Gray, Dusky, Willow, and Pacific-slope all on territories by mid-May. We will also stay alert for any of the eight local Corvid species, including Gray Jay, Pinyon Jay and Clark's Nutcracker.
Each of the habitats we visit will bring us a new array of songbirds. Cassin's Vireo, Cassin's Finch, and Pygmy Nuthatch will be most common in ponderosa pine forest; mixed-conifer forest supports Hermit Thrush, Hermit Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak; and shrubby slopes will be loaded with Fox Sparrows and Green-tailed Towhees, with plenty of Lazuli Buntings and Nashville Warblers. Across the region, we will see Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak. Red Crossbills will be a regular distraction flying above the forest canopy, while Vaux's Swifts occasionally twitter overhead. Wherever we go, throughout these first few days, we can count on great birding and the amazing scenery of the Oregon Cascades.
Meals will be a combination of favorite local restaurants and some picnic lunches. (B,L,D, each day)
We travel in a large passenger van with comfortable seating for up to seven birders and our guide, so everyone will have a window seat. This is an active birding tour, typically we travel by vehicle from site to site, and each day will involve considerable walking. We may hike up to three or four miles per day, with mostly short walks at a ‘birdwatcher's pace’ but a few routes may take us up short, steep trails or over rough terrain.
As with all Naturalist Journeys tours, Steve will offer great birding in the context of a broad natural history experience, we take plenty of time to ‘smell the flowers’—and touch the lava rocks, wet our hands in fresh springs, enjoy the antics of chipmunks, etc. We review our birds and other wildlife sightings at dinner each evening, but we will also discuss the broader discoveries of the day. We hope to send you home understanding of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest’s ecology and current conservation issues.
Sat., June 12: Morning Birding | Departures from Redmond
Our final day in central Oregon, we will enjoy some casual birding before heading to Redmond Municipal Airport. We will return you to the Redmond Municipal Airport in time for your scheduled departures after 1 PM. If you must leave in the morning ahead of that, you can arrange for a private shuttle back to the airport. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the Journey is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL, based on double occupancy, per person.
The tour price includes airport transfers, 5 nights’ accommodations, all meals from dinner Day One through breakfast Day 6, professional guide services, park and preserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses.
Cost of the journey does not include airfare from your home to Bend, Oregon or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).
Please plan to arrive at Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) by 2 PM on Monday, June 7. Please plan departures after 1 PM on Saturday, June 12.
Items of Note
If you have any difficulty meeting this schedule, or if you wish to arrive a day early and/or depart a day late or arrive or depart later or earlier than we suggest, there is transport to and from the airport. There is also long-term parking there for those that drive.
Note: Our local woodpecker festival is scheduled for the weekend prior to our tour, and you may wish to arrive in the area a few extra days to attend. This event offers a great chance to spend time in the field with some of our best local guides, as well as birders from all over the country. If you wish to attend the festival, note that the event is very popular. In order to get onto any field trips, you should closely follow the East Cascades Audubon website – or subscribe to the local listserve, COBOL – and enroll immediately upon the start of registration. Contact us for further details.
Photo credits: Banner: Lazuli Bunting, Sandy Sorkin; Old St. Francis School Hotel, courtesy of McMenamins; Pileated Woodpecker, Sandy Sorkin; Western Tanager, Barb Stone; White-headed Woodpecker, Steve Wolfe; Bald Eagle, Greg Smith; Gray Jay, Peg Abbott; Lewis's Woodpecker, Steve Wolfe; Old St. Francis School Hotel, courtesy of McMenamins; Old St. Francis School Hotel, courtesy McMenamins; White-headed Woodpecker, Steve Wolfe; Lazuli Bunting, Sandy Sorkin; Anna’s Hummingbird, Sandy Sorkin; Hotel Room, courtesy of Old St. Francis School Hotel; Pileated Woodpecker, Sandy Sorkin; Calliope Hummingbird, Steve Shunk; Nashville Warbler, Doug Greenberg; Green-tailed Towhee, Barry Ramdass; Gray Jay, Peg Abbott; Spotted Sandpiper, Terry Peterson; Western Tanager, Barb Stone; Bald Eagle, Greg Smith; Lazuli Bunting, Sandy Sorkin; Osprey, Sandy Sorkin; Pileated Woodpecker, Sandy Sorkin.