Birding

With the abundance of natural beauty and wildlife, it is no wonder the Southern Oregon Coast lures birding enthusiasts from all over the country. Coos County is known for its species diversity. In fact, there are approximately 394 species of birds (third highest in the state) here.

Birding can be enjoyed year round but look for these particular species during these seasons:

Spring: Thousands of shorebirds migrating north during April and May stop in Oregon wetlands to rest and feed. Nesting seabirds, including Common Murres, Tufted Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, and Brandt’s, and Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants arrive on coastal rocks and islands for breeding in the spring.

Summer: Young seabirds fledge in July and August. Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles hunt the nesting seabirds and waterfowl that migrate along the coast.

Fall: Fall migration is a great time to view spectacular flocks of shorebirds with numbers peaking in September as they fly south to wintering areas. Sea ducks and water birds are most abundant during the winter. Common species include Surf, White-winged and Black Scoters, Harlequin Ducks, Common and Pacific Loons, and Western, Horned, and Red-necked Grebes.

Winter: Look for wintering ducks, geese, and a variety of raptors in the Estuaries.

Birding Locations in Coos County, Oregon

Millicoma Marsh: Birders come here to see species rarely sighted in Oregon during the winter, such as the Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Marbled Godwit, and American Bittern.

The South Slough Estuarine: The freshwater wetlands and mixed conifer forest in this 5000 acre reserve attract Egret, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Wrentit. Join a South Slough interpreter and venture into the Reserve in search of winged wildlife on the first Saturday of each month.

Cape Arago State Park: This is the best location in the Coos Bay area to ocean scope for pelagic bird species. In addition, there are many other species of ducks, grebes, loons, alcids and rockpipers visible. During the winter in the rocky intertidal area look for Harlequin Duck, Black Oystercatcher (year round), Surfbird, and Black Turnstones. You are likely to see Townsend’s Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets during the winter months and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers and Red Crossbills year round in the forested areas.

Simpson Reef Overlook and Shell Island: The reef and the island are part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area. Western Gulls and Pelagic Cormorants build nests on Shell Island. Cormorant nests are built on the narrow ledges, and chicks hatch in July. You may see scoters in the lee of Shell Island during fall and winter. Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles and Osprey may be seen in the summer.

Pony Slough in North Bend: Sightings at Pony Slough in North Bend have included Marbled Godwits, Pacific Golden-Plovers, and other birds including Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Great Egret, and many species of waterfowl.

Additional locations can be found on www.birdingoregon.info

Oregon Coast Birding Resources

Cape Arago Audubon Society, Coos County, Oregon

Oregon Birders Online

Birding Site Guide of Oregon

Oregon Coast Birding Trails

South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Coos Watershed Association

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Trip Ideas

Dredge Spoil Islands at South Slough_small

South Slough Estuary

Once you travel the Cape Arago Highway that skirts a lonesome and lovely section of the Southern Oregon coast, it may become a road once taken that you’ll never want to leave! It leads you past so many intriguing sights that you may well…