The Insider's Guide to
Crater Lake's Backyard
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Birdwatching

Birding

Birding on Crystal Creek

Birding on Crystal Creek north of the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail

©Mike Black

Welcome to Sunset Magazine’s #1 Birding Destination in the West, and the largest freshwater ecosystem west of the Mississippi.

NEWS FLASH:  The Klamath Basin hosts over a million wintering waterfowl and the largest wintering bald eagle population in the lower 48.  The Annual Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls is Feb. 16-19 with workshops, clinics, speakers, and more.

The Upper Klamath marshes and open water next to forests host a large variety of birds in a relatively small area. Check the area map for symbols denoting birding hotspots. Visit the Klamath Basin Birding Trail or pick up their birding map at any resort or tourist information office for additional details. Arm yourself with an early start, binocs, and KBBT map for an unparalleled day of birding. Look, listen, and enjoy.  If you’d rather bird with an expert, Lonesome Duck offers half and full-day tours with an experienced naturalist.

Favorite Birding Routes

Bald eagle in flight over the Upper Klamath Basin

Bald eagle in flight over the Upper Klamath Basin

©Ali Litts

Odessa Campground and Upper Klamath NWR to Sevenmile Trailhead
View Map - Odessa Campground and Upper Klamath NWR to Sevenmile Trailhead
The 15,000 acre refuge offers excellent nesting and brood-rearing areas for waterfowl, bald eagles, osprey, and colonial nesting birds. Odessa, Malone, and Crystal Springs are part of a series of gushing springs that dot the western shoreline. They feature superb examples of forest and wetland species together, including woodpeckers, chickadees, warblers, wrens, blackbirds, and night herons. See nesting black terns and Clark’s grebes on a morning paddle at Rocky Point, and then spot nesting sandhill cranes, yellow-headed blackbirds and both white-headed and pileated woodpeckers at CrystalWood Lodge in the afternoon. In the evening listen for yellow rail near Sevenmile Marsh, a high-elevation wetland with a mixed conifer forest, where nesting species include Lincoln’s Sparrow, nuthatches, chickadees, and warblers.

A blue grouse checking out a carload of birders

A blue grouse checking out a carload of birders

©Marshal Moser, Lonesome Duck

Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site to Fort Klamath Museum
View Map - Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site to Fort Klamath Museum
The river aspen, marsh wetland, and open stands of ponderosa pine are excellent for viewing migrating songbirds. This area shelters nesting grouse, sapsuckers, grosbeaks, vireos, and warblers. Wintering raptors frequent the adjacent ranches.

Little Green Heron^copyMarshal Moser, Lonesome Duck

Little green heron

©Marshal Moser, Lonesome Duck

Collier Memorial State Park to the Wood River Wetlands and Petric Park
View Map - Collier Memorial State Park to the Wood River Wetlands and Petric Park
Along Spring Creek, Collier State Park hosts jays, osprey and dippers, as well as summer hummingbirds. The Wood River Wetlands and Petric Park offer riparian strips, marsh, and open water that attract Clark’s grebe, terns, phalaropes, pelicans, and songbirds. In the winter, view Agency Lake’s waterfowl from the Wood River Wetlands and hawks and eagles from the country roads around Fort Klamath.

Y rumped

Yellow rumped warbler

©Mike Black


Great Meadow, Fish Lake, and Fourmile Lake
View Map - Great Meadow, Fish Lake, and Fourmile Lake
Take Hwy 140 West up into the Cascades for a diversity of habitats from wet and dry meadows, to ponds, to marsh, to mature and sub-alpine forests, to mountain lakes. Great Meadow, a unique habitat, hosts nesting spotted sandpipers, American pipits, warblers, and Vaux swifts. Fourmile and Fish Lakes offer mature Douglas fir and grand fir forests surrounding sub-alpine lakes with nesting woodpeckers, crossbills, nuthatches, and western tanagers.

Check our Be Prepared page for some safety tips.