ALL THE EXPECTED sandhill crane pairs have arrived and are on their territories at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. JIM WARD photo
Sandhill cranes claim territories
LADD MARSH WILDLIFE AREA
All the expected sandhill crane pairs have arrived and are on their territories. These local pairs will likely begin nesting near the end of the month or in early April. There are also small groups of non-breeding and larger groups of migrating sandhill cranes using areas in and near the wildlife area.
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.
Note: Since Jan. 1, wildlife viewers and anglers have needed a parking permit to park on the wildlife area.
The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s expanded Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.
Tule Lake Public Access Area and the Auto Route are 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.
Hundreds of ducks and geese are using the area including Canada geese, greater white-fronted geese, northern pintails, American wigeon, ring-necked ducks, mallards and gadwall. The first cinnamon teal of the year have arrived along with northern shoveler and at least a few Eurasian wigeon.
Scoping the flats east of Peach Road should show good numbers of geese and ducks. At least 200 tundra swans are scattered in nearly every
Please 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.
The first tree swallows of the season have arrived as well. Western meadowlarks are becoming more visible as they begin to sing from the tops of shrubs and fences.
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. Great horned owls are nesting and many seem to have hatched although the young are not yet visible.
Northern harriers continue their aerial displays and can be seen dancing in the air from nearly any county road on the area.
Red-tailed hawks have begun sitting in their nests in several locations. Watch for Swainson’s hawks to return in the next couple weeks.
Dogs are not permitted within the wildlife area, on or off leash except west of Foothill Road from Sept. 1 through authorized hunting seasons. For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area at 541-963-4954.
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.
Herons are common and can be observed throughout the Wallowa Valley feeding along creeks and rivers.
Waterfowl species such as Canada geese, mallards, widgeon, and pintails can be observed on Wallowa Lake and throughout the Wallowa Valley feeding in agricultural fields. On open water bodies ring-necked ducks, scaup, goldeneye and bufflehead are common species to observe.
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
Most raptors can be easily observed from county roads. A good pair of binoculars will improve viewing opportunities.
Mule and white-tailed deer are common in agricultural areas adjacent to Highway 82.
Animals can be observed during early morning and late evening hours.
People willing to drive down the rough Imnaha River Road will often observe bighorn sheep north of Cow Creek near Cactus Mountain.
Elk can often be observed along the Zumwalt Road near Findley Buttes. Another good location to observe elk during winter months is on the Wenaha Wildlife Area near Troy.
A good place to look is along the Eden Bench road during early morning or late afternoon hours.