Birding

Klamath County is home to over 350 bird species.

The Klamath Basin is unmistakably bird country.  It is one of the top birding locations in the nation, and is one of the largest migratory stopovers for birds in the western United States.

Birding in Klamath is a year-round activity with natural high-elevation valleys surrounded by mountains.  The region contains diverse habitats from desert lakes, wetlands and rivers to rain forests along the edges of the Cascade Mountain range making this area a birder’s paradise.

As a major waterfowl and wetland species nesting site, and stopover and wintering areas for various species, the Klamath Basin is located along the Pacific Flyway, the largest flyway in North America.  In winter, you are likely to view the largest concentration of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states.  

Predictably you can see Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, egrets, herons, hawks, owls, grebes, and many more at one or more of the six National Wildlife Refuges in our area.  Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars to catch all the action.

National Wildlife Refuges

  • The Upper Klamath NWR has 15,000 acres of freshwater marsh and open water. Excellent nesting and brood rearing areas for waterfowl including grebes, terns, American white pelicans, egrets and herons, bald eagles, and ospreys. The best way to see these birds is by taking a canoe on the 9.5 mile canoe trail through the refuge.
  • The Klamath Marsh NWR has 40,646 acres of refuge providing a natural marsh habitat for important nesting, feeding, and resting habitat for waterfowl, while the surrounding meadow-lands are attractive nesting and feeding areas for Sandhill crane, yellow rail, and various shorebirds and raptors. There is canoeing available according to this download.
  • The Lower Klamath NWR was our nation’s first waterfowl refuge. With 46,900 acres of shallow freshwater marshes, open water, grass and sagebrush uplands and crop lands. The 10 mile auto tour provides visitors year-round access to great wildlife viewing opportunities. There are a number of photo blinds for early morning photography. Look for Bald and Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, water & marsh birds, pelicans, White-faced Ibis, Snowy Egret, Sandhill Crane, Short-eared Owl, Long-billed Dowitcher, Tri-colored Blackbirds and more.
  • The Tulelake NWR encompasses 39,116 acres of mostly open water and croplands. A 12 mile auto tour route, a paved or graveled all-weather road, allows wildlife observation year-round. Obtain updated information about recent bird sightings at the Tulelake Visitor Center. Large geese flocks, grebes, herons, egrets, hawks and eagles. Barn Owls, towhees, Canyon and Rock Wrens, Juniper/Oak Titmouse, White-throated sparrows, and Northern Mockingbirds regularly seen on this refuge.
  • The Bear Valley NWR was established in 1978 to protect a vital night roost site for wintering bald eagles, the refuge consists of 4,200 acres, primarily of old growth Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, White and Douglas Fir. Located on a northeast slope, the roost also shelters these raptors from harsh and prevailing winter winds. In recent years, as many as 300 bald eagles have used the roost in a single night. Bear Valley Refuge also serves as nesting habitat for several bald eagle pairs. Bear Valley Refuge is closed to all public entry, except for walk-in deer hunting before November 1, to reduce disturbance to the birds. From December through mid-March excellent opportunities are available from outside the Refuge to observe early morning fly-outs of large numbers of bald eagles and other raptors from their Bear Valley roost.
  • The Clear Lake NWR boasts 46,460 acre refuge consists of 20,000 acres of open lake surrounded by sagebrush, grasslands and juniper. Small rocky islands in the lake provide nesting sites for the American white pelican, double-crested cormorant, and other colonial nesting birds. The upland areas serve as habitat for pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and sage grouse. Except for limited waterfowl hunting and pronghorn antelope hunting during the regular California State seasons, the Refuge is closed to public access to protect fragile habitats and to reduce disturbance to wildlife.

Birding Adventures

  • ROE Outfitters is your gateway to adventure in Southern Oregon. We’ve been guiding families and friends on the rivers, lakes and through the forests and fields of this region since 1984. We consider it a privilege to share in your adventure to Southern Oregon and we are excited to introduce you to all that we love and admire about the area.
  • Lonesome Duck for World Class Birding and Wildlife Watching: Lonesome Duck is a nature lover’s dream.  Bird watching is a major attraction. Lonesome Duck Ranch is located near the north end of the Klamath Basin along the Pacific Flyway with over 350 species recorded for the Basin. The ranch itself is a great birding destination. It is nestled in the sagebrush and Ponderosa along the beautiful Williamson River and at the base of the mountain that forms the eastern wall of the Klamath Basin.
  • Running Y Ranch Resort is tucked onto the shores of southern Oregon’s expansive Upper Klamath Lake, the biggest natural lake in the Pacific Northwest. Your bird watching adventure will begin as soon as you approach The Lodge, which perches overlooking a forested valley full of wildlife and scenic beauty. And from here, you have many options, as it’s estimated that three-quarters of the waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway stop in the Klamath Basin surrounding Running Y Ranch Resort each year. The abundance of unspoiled, protected lands surrounding The Ranch has made the area the most important gathering point for watching wild birds along the Pacific Flyway. Our location is also host to the largest gathering of wintering Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. Birders have sighted the Bald Eagle, American White Pelican, Osprey, American Avocet, Cinnamon Teal, Canada Goose, White-faced Ibis, Pintail, Tri-colored Blackbird, Mountain Bluebird, Gadwall, Canvasback, Clark’s & Western Grebes, and Black Tern.

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