and Birding Hotspots
Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Oregon is Malheur National Wildlife Refuge - 187,000 acres of sagebrush, wetland and riparian habitat. Over 320 species of birds and 58 species of mammals benefit from the refuge. And bordering Malheur are the glacially carved canyons of Steens Mountain Wilderness.
Many species come to Malheur to breed and nest, including Short-eared Owls, Sage Grouse, Western Snowy Plovers, Sandhill Cranes and Trumpeter Swans. Migrating neotropical songbirds find refuge in cottonwood trees adjacent to refuge headquarters in the spring and return in late summer. Joining them are southbound shorebirds headed for Malheur's alkali playas and mudflats.
In September, Malheur's fields of grain are home to both migratory and nesting Sandhill Cranes. As the wetlands evaporate, pelicans, ibises and herons gather at refuge ponds, and beautiful Tundra Swans rest at Knox Pond before continuing their southward journey.
Raptors remaining at Malheur during the winter include Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons and American Kestrels. They survive by preying on wintering waterfowl, rodents and rabbits. Also staying through the winter are hearty Sage Grouse. There are approximately 35,000 Sage Grouse in Oregon, and most are found in Malheur, Lake and Harney counties. The males' booming courtship displays begin during March.
The Alvord Desert, including natural hot springs at Alford Hot Springs, is approximately 100 miles south of Burns, and Hart Mountain National Antelope Range is located 65 miles northeast of Lakeview, Oregon.
Malheur Field Station: Run by the Great Basin Foundation, the Field Station offers dormitory lodging, a mess hall and natural history classes.
Frenchglen Hotel: On the National Historic Register, this inn has character and also serves excellent homemade pies in its restaurant.
Crane Hot Springs: Crane Hot Springs offers campsites and basic cabins. Even better are its private soaking tubs and hotsprings pond.
Hotel Diamond: This bed and breakfast in Diamond offers comfortable rooms, a continental breakfast and an optional homestyle meal for dinner.
Motels and restaurants are also available in the town of Burns.
Page Springs Campground:
Page Springs offers its own rewards - including a riverside trail winding through a rimrock canyon. Other BLM campsites are located on Steens Mountain road.
Follow Highway 78 two miles east of Burns, Oregon. Go south on Highway 205 for 24 miles. Go east on Harney County Road 405 for 6 miles and then turn left at the top of the hill to arrive at refuge headquarters.
Malheur NWR Bird List
Malheur NWR Mammal List
John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival