Welcome to Sunset Magazine’s #1 Birding Destination in the West, and the largest freshwater ecosystem west of the Mississippi.
Birders, we need your help. Summer 2020 has seen a crisis on our public lands just south of Crater Lake, with alarming increases in careless resource damage, trash and human waste, and lack of respect for neighboring private lands. PLEASE recreate responsibly, so these special places stay open for public use.
The Upper Klamath Lake marshes and open water next to forests host a large variety of birds in a relatively small area. Over 350 species of birds call this major Pacific Flyway layover home! This is also a refuge for more than just birds, offering humans relief from their hectic lives.
Check the area map for symbols denoting birding hotspots. Visit the Klamath Basin Birding Trail for additional details.
Look, listen, and enjoy. If you’d rather bird with an expert, Lonesome Duck offers half and full-day tours with an experienced naturalist.
Fall: August and September are peak months for viewing pelicans, egrets, herons, and grebes. An estimated one to two million ducks and geese migrate through the Klamath Basin each October and November.
Winter: From November through February the largest wintering population of Bald Eagles, often more than 500, concentrates in the Klamath Basin.
Spring: March to May brings shorebirds and waterfowl migrating north to Alaska and Canada, with songbirds and raptors nesting in the forests and along the marshes. Western and Clark’s Grebes dance on the lake.
Summer: Brood-rearing by shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and song birds.
Great Birding Routes
Odessa Campground and Upper Klamath NWR to Sevenmile Trailhead The 15,000 acre refuge offers excellent nesting and brood-rearing areas for waterfowl, bald eagles, osprey, and colonial nesting birds. Odessa, Malone, and Crystal Springs are part of a series of gushing springs that dot the western shoreline. Species: Woodpeckers, chickadees, warblers, wrens, blackbirds, and night herons, black terns and Clark’s grebes, sandhill cranes, yellow-headed blackbirds and both white-headed and pileated woodpeckers. Sevenmile Marsh, a high-elevation wetland with a mixed conifer forest. Nesting Species: Lincoln’s Sparrow, nuthatches, chickadees, and warblers. Listen for yellow rails.
Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site to Fort Klamath Museum. The river aspen, marsh wetland, and open stands of ponderosa pine are excellent for viewing migrating songbirds. Nesting Species: Grouse, sapsuckers, grosbeaks, vireos, and warblers. Wintering raptors frequent the adjacent ranches.
Collier Memorial State Park to the Wood River Wetlands and Petric Park Collier State Park. Species: Jays, osprey and dippers along Spring Creek, as well as summer hummingbirds. The Wood River Wetlands and Petric Park offer riparian strips, marsh, and open water. Species: Clark’s grebe, terns, phalaropes, pelicans, and songbirds. In the winter, view Agency Lake’s waterfowl from the Wood River Wetlands and hawks and eagles from the country roads around Fort Klamath.
Great Meadow, Fish Lake, and Fourmile Lake Hwy 140 West up into the Cascades offers a diversity of habitats from wet and dry meadows, to ponds, to marsh, to mature and sub-alpine forests, to mountain lakes. Great Meadow. Nesting Species: Spotted sandpipers, American pipits, warblers, and Vaux swifts. Fourmile and Fish Lakes offer mature Douglas fir and grand fir forests surrounding sub-alpine lakes. Nesting Species: Woodpeckers, crossbills, nuthatches, and western tanagers.
Klamath falls hosts the Annual Winter Wings Festival on Presidents’ Weekend, with field trip, clinics, speakers, and more. CANCELLED FOR 2021 because of COVID.