The Pacific Flyway is an important migratory route that passes through Oregon , and the state’s varied ecosystems provide habitats for a variety of species, ranging from shorebirds to raptors to songbirds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established viewpoints for wildlife- and bird-watching at 12 Oregon national wildlife refuges, detailed in the destination chapters.
In the winter the outskirts of Klamath Falls  become inundated with bald eagles. Along the lower Columbia east of Astoria  and on Sauvie Island , just outside Portland , are other bald-eagle wintering spots. Visitors to Sauvie Island will be treated to an amazing variety of birds. More than 200 bird species come through here on the Pacific Flyway, feeding in grassy clearings. Look for eagles here on the island’s northwest side. Herons, ducks of all sorts, and geese also live on the island.
Other birds of prey, or raptors, abound all over the state. Northeast of Enterprise, near Zumwalt, is one of the best places to see hawks. Species commonly sighted include the ferruginous, red-tailed, and Swainson’s hawks. Rafters in Hells Canyon might see golden eagles’ and peregrine falcons’ nests. Portlanders driving the Fremont Bridge over the Willamette River also might get to see peregrine falcons. Along I-5 in the Willamette Valley , look for red-tailed hawks on fence posts, and American kestrels, North America’s smallest falcons, sitting on overhead wires.
Turkey vultures circle the dry areas during the warmer months. Vultures are commonly sighted above the Rogue River. In central Oregon, ospreys are frequently sighted off the Cascades Lakes Highway  south of Bend , nesting atop hollowed-out snags near water (especially Crane Prairie Reservoir ).
In terms of sheer numbers and variety, the coast’s mudflats at low tide and the tidal estuaries are among the best birding environments. Numerous locations along the coast—including Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge , Three Arch Rock near Cape Meares , and South Slough Estuarine Research Reserve near Coos Bay —offer outstanding opportunities for spotting such pelagic species as pelicans, cormorants, guillemots, and puffins, as well as waders such as curlews, sandpipers, and plovers, plus various ducks and geese. Rare species such as tufted puffins and the snowy plover enjoy special protection here, along with other types of migratory birds.
The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which comprises all the 1,400-plus offshore islands, reefs, and rocks from Tillamook Head  to the California  border, is a haven for the largest concentration of nesting seabirds along the West Coast, thanks to the abundance of protected nesting habitat.
Malheur Wildlife Refuge, in the southeast portion of the state, is Oregon’s premier bird and birder retreat and stopover point for large groups of sandhill cranes, Canada and snow geese, whistling swans, and pintail ducks.
In the mountains, look for Clark’s nutcracker and the large Steller’s jay, whose grating voice and dazzling blue plumage often command the most attention. Mountain hikers are bound to share part of their picnic lunch with these birds. At high elevations, the quieter Clark’s nutcracker will more likely be your guest.
Unfortunately, the western meadowlark, the state bird, has nearly vanished from western Oregon due to loss of habitat, but thanks to natural pasture east of the Cascades you can still hear its distinctive song. The meadowlark is distinguished by a yellow underside with a black crescent pattern across the breast and white outer tail feathers.