Come to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande May 17 through 19 to enjoy an exciting birdwatching and wildlife viewing experience. The weekend-long Bird Festival occurs during the height of spring bird migration and nesting time in the Grande Ronde Valley and gives visitors a chance to see species they may have never seen.
The event is free and open to all. It kicks off on Friday night with a keynote address about Sandhill Cranes. On Saturday, the Wildlife Area opens its paths and viewpoints to novice and experienced birders to enjoy the more than 200 species of birds that live in or migrate through the area.
Experienced birders will staff several stations offering assistance finding and identifying birds. Cathy Nowak, ODFW Wildlife biologist, said visitors should be able to see American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Red-winged Blackbirds, nesting Sandhill Cranes and much more. Spotting scopes will be available on Saturday at prime Sandhill Crane viewing spots.
Kids will have an opportunity to become a Junior Birder, earning a patch and field guide. They can also build a birdhouse, decorate a canvas tote and participate in other activities.
The wildlife area will be open from 4:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday to those who have registered and received a Bird Festival passport. Participants can register at the Friday evening activities, on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Tule Lake Public Access Area.
Friday, May 17
The weekend kicks off with a keynote address and advance registration at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th Street, La Grande. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Gary Ivey will present on the subject of Sandhill Cranes of the Pacific Flyway at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 18
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Kids’ Activities
11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Lunch available for purchase
1 p.m., Birds of Prey presentation by Blue Mountain Wildlife Center
2:30 p.m., Guided Bird Walk on Tule Lake Public Access Area
Sunday, May 19
Field trips, led by local birders, will be available Sunday. Interested individuals are encouraged to pre-register as the trips fill fast and spaces are limited. There is a $10 fee to participate in field trips. Any available spots can be reserved at the Friday evening activities and on Saturday.
Information about the field trips and registration forms can be found on the ODFW website.
The Bird Festival is one of several Valley-wide events included in the Grande Ronde Valley SpringFest event that coincides with International Migratory Bird Day and pays homage to everything spring. Join the celebration and delight in art, music, nature, industry and food and wine.
Directions to Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
From Interstate 84, take Exit 265, then south on Highway 203 approximately 5 1/2 miles to Peach Road. At the south end of the railroad overpass, turn north (left) onto Peach Road (gravel road) and continue approximately 1.3 miles to the Tule Lake Public Access Area entrance. The parking area and registration site are a short ¼ mile from the entrance gate. Find the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area on the ODFW Wildlife Viewing map.
Image courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife