Bird Viewing near Baker City

Red and yellow bird sitting on a tree branchThere are many birding sites near Baker which will keep 'birders' busy year-round. The diversity of habitats include farmlands, sagebrush slopes, small riparian areas, mixed conifer forests, and large lakes.

The following information was provide by local birding enthusiasts listing some of their favorite birding sites throughout the County. Some sites are on the National Forest and other sites are located on private or other public lands. The Baker County Birding checklist (206 KB) is a good start to see what the local areas have.

 

Powder River Interpretive Trail

How to get there: The Powder River Interpretive Trail is located south of Baker City. To get there travel towards John Day on Highway 7 for approximately 16 miles to the Powder River Trail parking area. The loop trail can be accessed from either the upstream or downstream parking areas. There are wooden foot bridges across the river. The northern trail and restroom facility are universally accessible for visitors with disabilities. The southern trail, across the river is a narrower trail with some mild slopes and is not suitable for visitors with disabilities.

Setting: This birding area is situated along the Powder River with an open conifer and hardwood riparian area. The trail crosses the Powder River over foot bridges and has one restroom, with parking at both ends.

Some species that you can expect to see:

  • American dippers
  • Song sparrows
  • Black-capped chickadees
  • Red-breasted nuthatches
  • White-breasted nuthatches
  • Red crossbills
  • Vaux's swifts
  • Varieties of swallows
  • Common mergansers
  • Belted kingfishers

 Management and information: This site is managed by the Whitman Ranger District, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (541) 523-4476.

Whitebreasted nuthatch upside down on pine treeUnion Creek Campground and Phillips Lake Area

How to get there: From Baker City travel south towards John Day on highway 7 approximately 20 miles to the Union Creek reservoir area. Form this point you have several options:

The Union Creek Campground (Forest Service fee site) has paved roads that can be walked or driven. A trail below the campground and above Phillips Lake is a nice walk (around the lake if you're ambitious).

Some species you can expect to see:

  • Ruby-crowned kinglet
  • Common loons
  • Mountain bluebirds
  • Western bluebirds
  • Red-breasted nuthatches
  • White-breasted nuthatches
  • Red crossbills
  • Dark-eyed juncos
  • Pine siskins
  • Canada geese
  • Cassin's finches
  • Mountain chickadees
  • Evening grosbeaks
  • Audubon's warblers
  • Osprey
  • Bald eagles

The Southwest Shore Campground and Millers Lane Campground are located on the south side of the lake. You can access them by continuing your trip back on highway 7 to the Hudspeth lane turnoff approximately 3 miles. Follow the signs to the Southwest Shore campground. These sites have good views and habitat. Hudspeth Lane crosses the dredge tailings and usually has water on both sides.

Some species you can expect to see:

  • Varieties of waterfowl
  • Varieties of swallows
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Mountain bluebirds
  • Pygmy nuthatches

Mowich Loop Picnic Area can be accessed by continuing your travels back on highway 7 approximately one mile. This developed picnic area has some interpretive panels, and a universally accessible restroom which is open during the summer months.

Setting: These birding areas are mostly associated with the reservoir and open ponderosa pine forests.

Some species you can expect to see:

  • Song sparrow
  • Calliope hummingbird
  • Varieties of warblers
  • Ospreys

Management and information: These sites are managed by the Whitman Ranger District, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (541) 523-4476.
 

Hole-in-the-Wall

How to get there: From Baker City travel go north on interstate I-84 to the 302 exit going east on highway 86 towards Hells Canyon and the Richland/Halfway area. Travel approximately 30 miles to the “Hole-in-the-Wall” Interpretive site. The birding area is located below the interpretive area along the Powder River by the old highway which is now closed due to a landslide. To reach this area continue on highway 86 approximately 1 mile, take the next road to the left which goes up the old highway and dead-ends in about 1/2 mile. There are no developed facilities at this site.

Setting: This birding area is situated along the Powder River with riparian hardwoods and upland sagebrush habitats.

Some species that you can expect to see:

  • Yellow-breasted chats
  • Bullock's orioles
  • Rock wrens

Management and information: This site is managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
 

 Yellow headed blackbird on a cattail stalkLove Reservoir

How to get there : From Baker City travel go north on interstate I-84 to the 302 exit going east on highway 86 towards Hells Canyon and the Richland/Halfway area. Travel approximately 7 miles and turn right on the Ruckles Creek Road , which is a county road opposite the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center . After approximately 7 miles, the dirt road branches (probably not signed). Follow the main branch as it climbs higher into sage brush country, approximately 6.5 miles to the reservoir. There are no developed facilities at this site. Bring a spotting scope along for better viewing. Caution: the road to this remote reservoir is not paved and not suitable for passenger vehicles when wet.

Setting: This area is situated at a reservoir located in sagebrush habitat.

Some species that you can expect to see:

  • Eared grebes
  • Varieties of waterfowl
  • Horned larks
  • Yellow-headed blackbirds

 

Colorful duck swimming in the waterHighway Ponds

How to get there: Highway 203 Pond: From Baker City travel north on Interstate 84 approximately 5 miles to the State 203 exit (going to Medical Springs). This pond is managed by the Oregon Department of Wildlife and is just off the interstate to the east of the access road. There is a designated parking area on the northside of the pond but no other developed facilities. A foot path developed by anglers goes around the pond.

Private interstate frontage road ponds: Other privately owned dredge ponds are also located just east of Baker City along the Frontage road on the west side of the interstate and along the Airport road on the east side of the interstate. To get to thes ponds to the 304 exit and turn right back towards Baker City. The ponds can be viewed from the county road however public access is only allowed with permission from the landowner.

Setting: This birding area is associated with the ‘freeway ponds' and is a constructed pond popular with local anglers. It is near private farmlands.

Some species that you can expect to see:

  • Varieties of waterfowl
  • Yellow-headed blackbirds
  • Turtles