WELCOME BACK! Sandhill cranes have just arrived at Ladd Marsh. Soon they’ll be courting mates with their melodious calls and frantic dances. Cranes are really quite omnivorous. Their diet might include a main course of sushi with a sprinkle of tadpoles. An entrée of meadow mice might join a bull frog for an appetizer. In late summer, they can often be observed combing the dry and brushy slopes, above Ladd Marsh, for snakes — some with rattles on their tails. JIM WARD photo
Sandhill cranes returning to Ladd Marsh
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
The first sandhill cranes of the season have arrived on Ladd Marsh. Cranes can be seen from county roads in several locations.
Report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds.
Tule Lake Public Access Area and the Auto Route are now open for the season. The Glass Hill unit remains closed to entry until April 1. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area. There are numerous quality-viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area.
Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance.
Waterfowl numbers are rebounding sharply as longer days begin to feel like spring. Hundreds of ducks and geese are using the area. Greater white-fronted geese, northern pintails, American wigeon and other species are present.
Scoping the flats east of Peach Road should show good numbers of geese and ducks. Thirty or more tundra swans have been observed and as many as four trumpeter swans have been reported.
Report any waterfowl with neck collars to the wildlife area headquarters.
Bewick’s wrens, black-capped chickadees and song sparrows have begun singing. Hundreds of American robins have been using Ladd Marsh recently, dotting small trees, shrubs and pastures.
Bald eagles have been seen in scattered areas of the marsh. Watch for them in flight over the marsh or perched in trees or on fence posts.
Numerous great horned owls are present on Ladd Marsh and may be seen in their nests as they begin to incubate eggs. Northern harriers have started their aerial displays and can be seen dancing in the air from nearly any county road on the area. Red-tailed hawks have also begun to stake out nest sites.
Bald eagles are common along the Wallowa River from Minam Canyon to Wallowa Lake.
Bald eagles can also be observed near domestic cattle with new born calves. Golden eagles are common in the Wallowa Valley year round.
Eagles can be observed along river corridors, Wallowa Lake, and often in agricultural areas where cattle are being fed.
Prairie falcon, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, rough-legged, Swainson’s and ferruginous hawks, as well as a variety of owls can be observed throughout Wallowa Valley and Zumwalt prairie.
Most raptors can be easily observed from county roads. A good pair of binoculars will improve viewing opportunities.