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Mouseketeers: Young northern harriers, also known as marsh hawks, have an almost insatiable appetite. Their daily menu might include white-footed mice for breakfast, a couple of garter snakes for lunch and a young pheasant for dinner. In-between snacks could include a blackbird and a fat gopher. Northern harriers are very common throughout Northeast Oregon, but they’re especially common at Ladd Marsh. Look for their tell-tale white saddle patch near the tail and their distinctive habit of gliding low over the marsh. JIM WARD photo
Northern harriers among many raptors commonly seen at wildlife refuge
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
Wildlife viewers and anglers need 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.
Tule Lake Public Access Area and the Auto Route are open for the season. The Glass Hill Unit is also open to public access. 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 using the area include Canada goose, snow goose, greater white-fronted goose, northern pintail, American wigeon, ring-necked duck, mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal, northern shoveler and at least a few Eurasian wigeon. Shorebirds have include killdeer, black-necked stilt, greater yellowlegs and others.
Local sandhill cranes are nesting and single birds can often be seen feeding in meadows while their mate incubates the eggs. There are also small groups of non-breeding sandhill cranes using the wildlife area. Cranes can be seen from county roads in several locations. Please 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.
Bewick’s wren, black-capped chickadee, western meadowlark, saveannah sparrow and song sparrow are singing. Red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds are claiming territories and swallows can be seen over nearly every body of water on the marsh.
Red-tailed hawks are sitting in their nests in several locations And the Swainson’s hawks are claiming nests sites and beginning to build. Osprey have returned and can be seen hunting over ponds on and near Ladd Marsh.
Dogs are not permitted within the wildlife area, on or off leash except during 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 and golden eagles: 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.
Great Blue Heron: Herons are common and can be observed throughout the Wallowa Valley feeding along creeks and rivers.
Waterfowl: 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.
Raptors: 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.
Mule and White-tailed Deer: 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.
Bighorn Sheep: People willing to drive down the rough Imnaha River Road will often observe bighorn sheep north of Cow Creek near Cactus Mountain.
Rocky Mountain Elk: Elk can often be observed along the Zumwalt Road near Findley Buttes.