The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife invites experienced and novice bird watchers to the third annual Ladd Marsh Birdathon. The event will take place May 9-11 at ODFW’s Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area located five miles south of La Grande.
PRINCE OF THE MARSH: Wood ducks live throughout the Grande Ronde Valley. The less-colorful female seeks out an abandoned woodpecker cavity to nest, but will accept artificial nest boxes. Wood ducks, and up to 200 other bird species, will be sought after by birdwatchers at the upcoming “Birdathon” at Ladd Marsh. This third-annual event runs May 9 -11. For more information call 963-4954. - Photo/JIM WARD
“The event is a non-competitive birding opportunity for the family and free of charge,” said Ladd Marsh Wildlife Biologist Cathy Nowak. “We hope families will come out and visit the wildlife area not only to go birding, but to enjoy the scenery.”
Commemorating International Migratory Bird Day, the event is scheduled at the height of spring migration and nesting in the Grande Ronde Valley. Few, if any, places in Union County have a more diverse bird population than Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Over 200 species of birds either visit or live permanently at Ladd Marsh.
Areas on the wildlife area which are generally closed to entrance will be open to the public during the event, providing increased opportunities to see an abundance of ducks, geese, swans, raptors, shore birds and passerines.
Scheduled activities begin Friday, May 9, at 7 p.m. when local birder and wildlife biologist Scott Findholt will speak about birds found in the Grande Ronde Valley, emphasizing species found on Ladd Marsh. Following Findholt’s presentation, Nowak will provide information on other places to go birding in Union County. The Friday evening presentations will be held at Eagles Hot Lake RV Park, 65182 Hot Lake Lane near La Grande. Individuals attending this session will be able to pre-register for the event and for the optional Sunday tours.
Registration officially begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at the Tule Lake Access area off of Peach Road. At registration, participants will receive a packet with a passport directing them to six staffed birding stations and seven other “birdy” areas on or near the wildlife area. Experienced birders will be at the staffed stations from 6 a.m. until noon to offer assistance and information about birds and birding to the public. A map of the wildlife area showing popular birding stations and open areas will be included in the registration packet. The wildlife area will remain open all day (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset) to those with passports
From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Oregon University Biology Club members will serve hamburgers and hot dogs and all the fixings for $5 as a fundraiser to support their annual field trip. Visitors are also welcome to bring a picnic lunch.
Kids events, including building and decorating bird houses to take home and decorating their own “Bag It for Birds” tote, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At 2 p.m. Lynn and Bob Tompkins, directors of Blue Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, will bring their team of raptors for an educational presentation on birds of prey. Their presentation offers a close-up look at owls, eagles, falcons and other raptors.
On Sunday, May 11, individuals who pre-registered will be able to take one of two guided tours being offered.
From 4:30 to 8 a.m., Nowak will guide a small group of birders to a number of locations on the wildlife area. Space is limited and participants must pre-register Friday night or Saturday for this tour.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m. local birding guide Trent Bray will guide a small group of birders to locations outside the wildlife area. Space is limited and participants must pre-register Friday night or Saturday for this tour.
To get to the Ladd Marsh Birdathon from Interstate 84, take Exit 265, then go south on Hwy 203 approximately 5 miles to Peach Road. Just at the south end of the railroad overpass, turn north (left) onto Peach Road (gravel road) and continue approximately 1 mile to the Tule Lake Public Access entrance.
To get to the Eagles Hot Lake RV Resort from Interstate 84, take Exit 265, then travel south on Highway 203 for approximately 5 miles to Hot Lake Lane (gravel road). Turn right and follow Hot Lake Lane for approximately 1 mile. The RV resort is on the left at 65182 Hot Lake Lane.
Event sponsors include Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Union County Tourism, Eastern Oregon University Biology Club, Grande Ronde Model Watershed, Blue Mountain Embroidery and Silk Printing, Eagles Hot Lake RV Resort and The Bobolink.