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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. Steve hails from the Bend/Sisters area and his signature woodpecker birding tour combines the best of Central Oregon with the spectacular Malheur region in Eastern Oregon. Here we combine the delights of Oregon’s Woodpecker Wonderland with Malheur’s high-desert oasis for a fabulous experience in the Wild West.
This Oregon birding tour combines some of central and eastern Oregon’s top birding hotspots. Experience some of the best bird diversity in North America, with over 200 breeding species. Expansive western scenery abounds.
This Oregon woodpecker birding tour starts and ends in Redmond, Oregon, from which we drive a short way to explore the northern side of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and surroundings, with its vast wetlands and lakes. For millennia, migratory birds have fed and bred among the emergent wetlands and surrounding uplands of the Harney basin, and this ritual continues today. Many thousands of water birds, raptors, and songbirds return each year, along with thousands of birders, who visit to experience the natural spectacle occurring in this magnificent region. The birding highlights at Malheur are many, and we spend three full days exploring wetland, desert, grassland, canyon, and riparian habitats.
Traveling through the refuge’s top birding areas, we then spend two nights at the southern end of the Malheur Basin at Frenchglen, with great views of the rugged Steens Mountains. After time in rural enclaves, we then stay two nights in Bend and three nights in Sisters, two great small cities with western vibes—mountain vistas, pine forests, and the rivers running through town.
Each day of the tour we explore a broad diversity of habitats, from riparian woodland to wetlands and lakes to lush and in places, burned coniferous forests.
The first half of the tour is a waterfowl and wetland extravaganza. For the second half, our daily itinerary takes 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 encounter ponderosa pine forest, where we should find Williamson's Sapsucker and White-headed Woodpecker.
- "A naturalist’s bird journey through two environmentally and economically different areas of Oregon. With the vastness of the desert ( who knew Oregon had a desert) and the majestic mountains." — mark Rozycki, 2023 Traveler
- "This is simply a great field trip. Steve Shunk is a great leader. He goes to great effort to make sure everyone sees their "target" birds. He always makes sure that everyone sees a particular bird. On top of everything else, he is a lot of fun." — 2023 Traveler
- Travel with experts—our guide 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!
- Catch migration and arrival for resident species as spring arrives to this wetland and mountain landscape
- Hear the rancorous calls of Yellow-headed Blackbird; watch for marshes teaming with waterfowl
- Find five species of grebes and 10 species of western raptors
- Experience the rural west, its cowboy culture and wide-open spaces are home to rich wildlife
- 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
- See 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
- In Bend, end great days of birding with top-rated local foods and a fabulous selection of brews and wine from the region
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Day 1: Arrive in Redmond, Oregon | Drive to Hines, Gateway to Malheur Country
Please plan to arrive at the Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM), servicing Deschutes County, by 2:00 PM. We have a 2.5-hour drive to Hines. After a brief birding stop along the way, settle into your accommodations and meet up for an early dinner and possibly some evening birding in the Silvies River flood plain. This is our first introduction to the diverse habitats of the Harney Basin.
Accommodations at the Best Western Rory and Ryan Inn, Hines (D)
Day 2: Silvies River Floodplain | Malheur Lakes
On our first full day, we have much to explore. We spend the morning crisscrossing the wetlands of the Silvies River floodplain. Sometimes referred to as the Malheur-Harney Lakes Basin, this closed sub-basin is named for Harney Lake, an alkali sink in this northwest corner of the immense Great Basin. The Silvies River drains from the southern limits of the Oregon’s Blue Mountains and across its expansive flood plain, with its delta feeding into the north shore of Malheur Lake.
Each spring, regional water managers direct the flow of the Silvies through a complex network of canals and ditches to flood irrigate the private agricultural lands between the Blue Mountain foothills and Malheur Lake. Flood irrigation in the Silvies flood plain more-or-less emulates the “natural” flooding that once occurred before immigrants settled the region.
South of the Silvies flood plain, three lakes—Malheur, Mud, and Harney—form the top of a lopsided T that defines the northern limits of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. After lunch at The Narrows, we skirt the southern shore of Malheur Lake, the largest of the three, en route to Malheur Refuge Headquarters. With its giant cottonwood trees and a productive spring-fed pond, Refuge HQ lets us experience a very busy songbird migration. This desert oasis attracts an amazing array of migrants, including flycatchers, vireos, tanagers, and warblers. We could encounter flocks of Western Tanager joined by any of 10 likely warblers—out of 20 possible warbler species! Black-headed Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting frequent the feeders at the visitor center, with hummingbird feeders hosting up to four different hummer species.
Accommodations at the Best Western Rory and Ryan Inn, Hines (D)
Days 3 – 4: Malheur Refuge | Blitzen River Valley
After two nights in town, we head south into the Blitzen River Valley. The Blitzen River forms the stem of the Malheur Refuge T, flooding a lush network of wetlands that stretches 35 miles from the delta at the southern shore of Malheur Lake to the mouth of the Blitzen Canyon. The primary source of the Blitzen River is the snowmelt from Steens Mountain, a 35-mile-long fault block that rises from the valley floor—at 4,000 feet elevation—to its summit at nearly 10,000 feet. The Blitzen delivers the vast majority of the water that feeds the 140,000-acre Malheur Refuge.
Over two full days, we visit such Malheur hotspots as Buena Vista Ponds, Benson Pond, and the deep-water Krumbo Reservoir, as well as Page Springs and the wild and scenic Blitzen River. From our base in the quaint and historic hamlet of Frenchglen, we explore the Blitzen Valley and surrounding uplands, searching for over 150 breeding species, including: five different grebes; over 15 nesting waterfowl species; 10 species each of raptors, shorebirds, and sparrows; and up to eight different flycatcher and six swallow species. Yellow-headed Blackbird are abundant in the marshes, with Willets and Wilson’s Snipe scattered among them. Thousands of Franklin’s Gulls and White-faced Ibis breed on the refuge, along with over 100 pairs of Sandhill Crane. Additional breeding bird highlights include rare Oregon nesters such as Trumpeter Swan, Eastern Kingbird, Bobolink, and Yellow-breasted Chat.
Malheur offers many other highlights, including iconic herds of wild horses; nearly 60 species of wild mammals on the refuge alone; carpets of desert wildflowers; a dynamic cultural history, from the first Paiute residents to the later cattle barons, as well as stories from the recent occupation of Malheur Refuge.
Accommodations at the Drover’s Inn & Frenchglen Hotel, Frenchglen (B,L,D, both days)
Day 5: Malheur to Bend
The Malheur region provides us with an amazing experience, but our adventure has just begun! After a final morning of birding around Frenchglen, we head west to downtown Bend—ready to explore the Cascade Mountains. We arrive in Bend in time for lunch, followed by afternoon birding at Shevlin Park. This amazing city park along Tumalo Creek supports old-growth conifers and productive aspen galleries. The aspens alone can host up to six nesting woodpecker species, including multiple pairs of Lewis’s Woodpecker.
Best Western Ponderosa Lodge, Sisters (B,L,D)
Day 6: Birding Bend & The Cascades Lakes
Our first full day in Central Oregon begins along the upper reaches of Tumalo Creek, with mixed-conifer forest and breeding birds such as Williamson’s Sapsucker, Canada Jay, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak. The balance of the day is spent in the high Cascades lakes region. We focus on two special lakes—Sparks and Hosmer—in search of specialty breeding birds of the mountains.
Sparks Lake typically hosts Barrow’s Goldeneye and Hooded Merganser, with Pine Siskin and Red Crossbill in the uplands and Mountain Bluebird and Sandhill Crane in the surrounding meadows. Hosmer gives us our first chance for American Three-toed Woodpecker, plus shallow waters with Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, and Bufflehead. The drive around these lakes has its own allure, with spectacular views of the Three Sisters mountains, plus Broken Top and Bachelor Butte, a volcanic landscape that is second to none.
Accommodations at the Best Western Ponderosa Lodge, Sisters (B,L,D)
Days 7 – 9: Birding Woodpecker Wonderland!
We leave Bend early and head northwest to the Sisters area, our gateway and base for exploring Central Oregon’s Woodpecker Wonderland, where 11 woodpecker species raise their young each year. Woodpecker searching gives us the framework for our days, but the diverse habitats in the region 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 Sandpiper 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 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 brings us a new array of songbirds. Cassin's Vireo, Cassin's Finch, and Pygmy Nuthatch are most common in ponderosa pine forest; mixed-conifer forest supports Hermit Thrush, Hermit Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak; and shrubby slopes are loaded with Fox Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee, with plenty of Lazuli Bunting and Nashville Warbler, too. Across the region, we see Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak. Red Crossbill are a regular distraction flying above the forest canopy, while Vaux's Swift occasionally twitter overhead. Wherever we go, throughout these days, we can count on great birding and the amazing scenery of the Oregon Cascades.
Meals are a combination of favorite local restaurants and some picnic lunches.
Accommodations at the Best Western Ponderosa Lodge, Sisters (B,L,D)
Day 10: Morning Birding | Departures from Redmond
On our final day in central Oregon, we enjoy some casual birding before heading to Redmond Municipal Airport. We return you to the Redmond Municipal Airport in time for your scheduled departures after 1:00 PM. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the Journey is $3590 DBL / $4490 SGL, based on double occupancy, per person. The tour price includes airport transfers, 9 nights’ accommodations, all meals from dinner Day One through breakfast Day 10, professional guide services, park and preserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost of the journey does not include airfare from your home to Redmond, 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 make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM)
Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive May 31, 2024 no later than 2:00 PM.
Departure Details: Plan flights to depart June 9, 2023 after 1:00 PM
Travel Tips: If you want to arrive early and rest up from your travels, we recommend the Comfort Suites Redmond Airport. You can book this online or call (541) 504-8900 to make a reservation. The hotel offers free airport transportation, and they are within walking distance to a couple of restaurants.
If you want to explore the area more, Bend, just down the road from the Redmond Airport, is a fun city with many things to do. There are plenty of hotels in Bend, but some in the downtown area we recommend are McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel and The Oxford Hotel. The downtown area has many shops, restaurants, and craft breweries. You can also take a walk along the Deschutes River. The High Desert Museum, just 5 minutes south of Bend, has exhibits on the people, culture, and resources of the high desert region. They even have a Bird of Prey Center where you can get up close views of owls, hawks, eagles, and falcons. If you’re fascinated by geology, then visit the Newberry National Volcanic Monument to see ancient lava flows and learn more about the spectacular geologic features of the area. Other great attractions in the area include Tumalo Falls, a nearly 100-foot-tall waterfall, and Pilot Butte, which you can drive up and have great views of surrounding mountains on a clear day. Taxis and Uber are available in Bend, but it’s easier to get around if you have a rental car.
Items of Note
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.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Steve Shunk started birding in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, and he moved to central Oregon’s ‘Woodpecker Wonderland’ in 1997, where 11 woodpecker species breed annually. This phenomenon led to a 20-year obsession studying this charismatic family of birds. Steve founded the region’s woodpecker festival in 2008, and his Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America was published in 2016. He has fed leeches (his own blood) in Malaysian Borneo, and he has watched Spotless Starlings swarming around the Greek ruins of Sicily. Steve’s Alaska adventures have taken him from Ketchikan to Barrow and St. Paul Island. One of his favorite destinations takes him to see ‘eastern’ warblers breeding across the boreal forest of Alberta, but recent adventures have led him to favor the cushion plants and condors of the Peruvian high Andes. Steve speaks at bird festivals across North America, and he returns annually to speak and guide at the Vallarta Bird Festival in far-western Jalisco, Mexico. Steve joined Naturalist Journeys earlier this year, and we are excited to have him on the schedule for 2021 and beyond.
Steve’s work as a field biologist has taken him from the Coast Range of Oregon to California’s Sierra Nevada. Most recently, he conducted point-count and woodpecker surveys for a study in the Central Oregon Cascades. Steve co-founded the East Cascades Bird Conservancy (now East Cascades Audubon), and served as its first president. He also co-founded the Oregon Birding Trails Program and coordinated its flagship project, the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. When Steve is not traveling the world for tours and lectures, he can be found writing, skiing, hiking, and watching woodpeckers at home in lovely Sisters, Oregon.
Other trips with Steve Shunk
Christmas in Costa Rica Full! Take a look at our July Costa Rica tour!December 22 - 29, 2023
Caribbean Endemics of JamaicaJanuary 28 - February 4, 2024
Costa Rica: Monteverde & More! Full! Take a look at our July Costa Rica tour!March 20 - 30, 2024, w/La Selva/Sarapiqui extension
Taiwan: Birding & NatureApril 10 - 20, 2024, w/Okinawa & Amami extension
Oregon's Malheur NWR & Woodpecker WonderlandMay 20 - 29, 2024
Photography Seminar Oregon's Woodpecker WonderlandJune 11 - 16, 2024
Wild Borneo: Endemic Birding & NatureComing September 2024
- Christmas in Costa Rica
Kirsten’s love of nature blossomed with early childhood explorations of emerald rainforests, sea star-filled tidepools, and wildflower-strewn mountains in Washington State. This paired with a love for travel when her family translocated to the Philippines where she lived from ages 8-18. Kirsten’s natural history explorations of the world expanded in college, graduate school and beyond as she studied Augur buzzards in Kenya, magnificent frigatebirds in the Galapagos Islands, poison-dart frogs in Costa Rica, rock iguanas in the Bahamas, kangaroos, bowerbirds, and fairy wrens in Australia, and myriad plants and animals in Florida where she worked as a biologist until a camera tweaked the trajectory of her career. Seven continents and 56 countries later, Kirsten now bases out of Florida and Maryland as a wildlife photographer, writer, speaker, nature guide, photography instructor, and conservationist.
Kirsten’s writing and photography have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including six of her own books on Florida’s nature and history, starting with the award-winning gardening reference Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens and most recently Everglades National Park. Her upcoming photo-illustrated books include the coffee-table book Wild Florida: The Animals of the Sunshine State and the field guide Birds of Florida. Kirsten’s images have also been featured in photography showcases, public art programs, and in solo and juried group exhibitions. With over 20 years of experience leading nature and photography trips and workshops, Kirsten’s goal is to inspire enthusiasm for the natural world among diverse audiences. She is a founding member of Phoebes Birding, which connects women through nature, member of the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group and North American Nature Photography Association, and a board member of Tropical Audubon Society and Audubon Florida.
Other trips with Kirsten Hines
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
- Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Food & Drink
We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and we comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.
Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books. You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please pack light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
Dress is very informal. In late spring the average temperatures are highs of 65°F and lows of 35°F. Day and night temperatures can vary by 30 or more degrees. Layering is key! A warm jacket will be needed in the evenings and early mornings. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun, insects and vegetation, but if you like to wear them by all means bring some shorts for casual time or travel days. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and that is comfortable and easy to wear. Supportive hiking boots are essential for our walks. Sandals may be well appreciated for evenings and travel days.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pairs
- Shorts (optional)
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 (loose fitting keeps you cool)
- T-shirts or equivalent, 4-5 (remember you may be buying some there anyway!)
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Hat with broad brim
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking shoes and lightweight hiking boots – good tread is essential!
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings
- Light to medium weight jacket
- Fleece or sweater/ sweatshirt equivalent
- Comfortable clothes for evenings (a cleaner version of your field cloths or a skirt, etc.)
- Bathing suit (optional)
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Photo Identification
- E-ticket verification
- Walking stick (optional but recommended if you usually use one when hiking)
- Toiletries articles
- Binoculars (a clear shower cap works well to keep off rain)
- Camera and extra batteries, battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos with charger and USB cord (optional)
- Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent
- Portable packages of facial tissues
- Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
- Umbrella (optional, compact and not brightly colored)
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional, guide will have one)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Earplugs (optional)
- Small bottle of antibacterial gel
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Air Items
- Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses – or have at easy reference to call or fax from home) and any medical alerts
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (including band-aids, moleskin, etc. for blisters)
- Health insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Oregon; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Oregon Birding Association
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge eBird Checklist
Silvies River Floodplain IBA
Woodpeckers of Washington
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Malheur National Forest
The Nature Conservancy in Oregon
The Conservation Fund – Oregon
Geology & Geography
Geology of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
History & Culture
History of Oregon
“A Short History of Oregon Tribes in the Contemporary Era” – Article, The Quartux Journal
“Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers” – Article, Oregon Encyclopedia
History of Bend
Helpful Travel Websites
Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM)
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Date & Time
Photo credits: Banner: Lazuli Bunting, Sandy Sorkin; Old St. Francis School Hotel, courtesy of McMenamins; Pileated Woodpecker, by Bill Pennell on Unsplash; California Scrub Jay, Greg Smith; White-headed Woodpecker, Steve Wolfe; Bald Eagle, Greg Smith; Bullock's Oriole, Homer Gardin; Lewis's Woodpecker, Steve Wolfe; Old St. Francis School Hotel, courtesy of McMenamins; Yellow-headed Blackbird, Doug Greenberg; Malheur NWR, Steve Wolfe; Western Tanager, Barb Stone; Williamson's Sapsucker, Steve Shunk; Lewis's Woodpecker, Steve Shunk; Flowers, Steve Shunk; Osprey, Sandy Sorkin; Pileated Woodpecker, Sandy Sorkin; Yellow-headed Blackbird, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Band-tailed Pigeon, Greg Smith; Black Oystercatcher, Steve Wolfe; Black-headed Grosbeak, Homer Gardin; Calliope Hummingbird, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Common Nighthawk, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, ALAN SCHMIERER public domain via Flickr.