The spring and autumn migration seasons are the best time of year to go birding out west, especially if the destination features a wetlands area. In Oregon, the Malheur National Wildlife features vast wetlands, grassy meadows and a fairly large reservoir, which definitely is a good combination for a superb birding venture. In this big refuge, the Krumbo Reservoir in particular is a prime time autumn season wildlife observation spot, especially when seeking both songbirds and raptors.
Krumbo Reservoir is part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge 42 mile auto tour route, which is a fairly smooth dirt road that nearly any higher than average ground clearance vehicle can traverse. There are several unique wetland and meadow environments to experience along the way to Krumbo that offer a chance to do some birding on foot, while just viewing from the open car window while cruising slow will also yield good results. Upon arrival at the Krumbo Reservoir, a visitor will find hiking trails around the lake, plenty of small tree perches and a bridge that acts as an observation platform. The views extend way across the lake and there is plenty of open space, so capturing bird images is easy to do, although getting close enough to fill the frame will still be a challenge.
Swallows and blackbirds of every kind can be seen around the marshy areas, while the waterfowl viewing is best from a light craft boat around the lake. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is most famous for wading birds, especially Sandhill Cranes, which are always good photo subjects early in the day. The autumn season is also a good time for viewing American Kestrels, which are fairly numerous in this region. In fact, do not be surprised if the kestrels fly directly to you, because these small raptors are always curious about who is in the neighborhood. The birding is nearly always worth the time spent at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, so be sure to pack a powerful lens and a bird identification book for the ride!
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