Harney County

Migratory Bird Festival

Burns, Oregon

541.573.2636

Birding on Steens Mtn

Birding in Harney County

Birding with Llamas

All Tours depart and return at the Burns High School 

Transportation is provided unless noted in tour details

Private vehicles may not follow festival vehicles. (maps will be available at Bird Central for personal birding use)

Checkin at least 20 mins before the tour

Tours depart on scheduled time

Bring water, snacks & lunch - remote area/limited stops- Preorder daily meals is available during registration

May be long stretches between restrooms.

Layer clothing for 10 to 90 degree weather --Bring your "fowl" weather gear

Persons with any limited mobility need to contact the Harney Chamber office prior to booking.

Must be 10 years or older to register unless noted "family friendly" in tour description

Tour descriptions contain a "Birding Intensity" scale 1-3 One being basic.

TOURS AT A GLANCE


THURSDAY TOURS AT A GLANCE

7pm-12am   Owl Prowl

FRIDAY TOURS AT A GLANCE
6am-1pm   Birds of Prey
6am-3pm  Blitzen Valley Birding with Noah Strycker
6am-5pm  Southern Harney & Alvord Desert
6am-6pm  Big Day Challenge
7:30-2:30  Cattlewomens Working Ranch 
8am-12pm eBird Workshop
8am-12pm Harney Basin Rock Art
8am-4pm  Birding British Style
8am-4pm  Boca Lake Hike
8am-4pm  Llamas in Flight at the Double O
12pm-2pm Birding the Silvies Flood Plain
12:30-5:30 Hey Whats the Bird
1pm-4pm   Birding the Hot Spots
2:30-4:30  Birding the Silvies 
4am-1pm   Catlow Valley Sage Grouse Tour and Stay
6am-12pm Steens Mtn Guest Ranch Horse Trail Ride and Stay
 
SATURDAY TOURS AT A GLANCE
6am-3pm  Blitzen Valley Birding Tour with Noah Strycker
6am-4pm  Big Day Challenge
6am-5pm  Southern Harney & Alvord Desert
 7am-9am  Birding the Silvies Flood Plain
7:30-2:30   Cattlewomens Working Ranch 
8am-10am  Sandhill Crane Discovery
8am-3pm   Restoration Birding
8am-3pm   Boca Lake Hike
8am-4pm   Llamas in Flight at the Double-O
8am-4pm   Birding British Style
9am-12pm  Birding the Hot Spots
9:30-11:30   Birding the Silvies River Flood Plain
12pm-2pm  Birding the Silvies Flood Plain
2pm-4pm   Sandhill Crane Discovery
2:30-4:30   Birding the Silvies Flood Plain

4am-1pm    Catlow Valley Sage Grouse Tour and Stay

6am-12pm  Steens Mtn Guest Ranch Horse Trail Ride and Stay

 
SUNDAY TOURS AT A GLANCE
6am-1pm   Birds of Prey
7am-12pm Willows, Cattails, and Meadows...Oh My!                             
7:30-9:30  Birding the Silvies River Flood Plain
8am-10am Sandhill Crane Discovery
8am-11am  Birding the Hot Spots
8am-2pm  Hike the Wild Double O
8am-4pm  Birding British Style
9am-12pm Llama Ranching Amid the Flocks
10am-12pm Birding the Silvies Flood Plain

TOUR DETAILS

FRIDAY 6am-1pm

SUNDAY..  6am-1pm

BIRDS OF PREY

$ 85


Come soar with the eagles and search for raptors!  View Bald Eagles exiting roosts, then drive along agriculture fields observing eagles and raptors hunting for prey.  Led by U.S. Forest Service Biologist Roy Sutcliff, this tour won't disappoint!  If weather and road conditions permit, the trip may extend into the Malheur Forest.


Birding intensity:


FRIDAY  6am - 7pm

SATURDAY  6am - 4pm

BIG DAY CHALLENGE

Friday $135   Saturday $95


The goal of the Big Day Challenge is to view over 100+ bird species (and other wildlife) across the Harney Basin. From the majestic old growth ponderosa pines in the Malheur National Forest to the spring fed ponds on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, everyone gets a window seat on this tour and there are plenty of birding stops with short walks to stretch legs and get some fresh air. Local Wildlife Biologists Rick Vetter (U.S. Forest Service, retired) and Howard Richburg (U.S. Forest Service) lead this jam-packed tour and also provide expertise and discussion on habitat management and threats to native birds. Plan on a very full day of birding through various habitats like burned and unburned forest areas, juniper woodlands, sagebrush, agricultural fields, hot springs, wetlands, rim rock cliffs, sewage ponds, floodplains and backyard hot spots. High quality spotting scopes available for use, and tour leaders can provide support for photography, digi-scoping and iPad birding apps.


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  1pm -4pm

SATURDAY 9am - 12pm

SUNDAY 8am - 11am

BIRDING THE HOT SPOTS

$45


If you are new to the area or just want someone else to do the driving and take you to all the “hot spots,” this is the tour for you! Join local Wildlife Biologists Matt Obradovich (Bureau of Land Management), Jim Lemos (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, retired) and Dave Vickstrom (Bureau of Land Management) for a personalized tour of the Harney Basin. They will answer all of your birding questions and provide insight into the habitat needs of many of our spring migratory birds. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to quiz an expert and discover the best birding around! Family friendly.


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  8am-4pm

SATURDAY 8am-4pm

SUNDAY 8am-4pm

BIRDING BRITISH STYLE

$85


One of our most popular tours! Join Oxford-trained ornithologist Duncan Evered for an insightful 8-hour field trip where you make your subject the bird – its behavior, ecology, migrations, digestion and, well, you get the picture! Having lived and worked at the Malheur Field Station for nearly 20 years, this Brit offers a unique perspective on local birds and a pythonesque take on “the meaning of birding.” With a bit of luck, you’ll learn that identifying birds need not be the end of the pursuit, but rather the beginning of a wonderfully fulfilling experience! Participants must at least pretend to like Elgar’s music and, after signing a liability waiver, sample Marmite done right. J Come hone your observation skills while having a jolly good time!


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY 12pm-2pm  2:30-4:30

SATURDAY 7am-9am 9:30-11:30 12pm-2pm 2:30-4:30

SUNDAY 7:30-9:30 10am-12pm

BIRDING SILVIES RIVER FLOOD PLAIN

$40


Join professional naturalist and owner of Paradise Birding, Steve Shunk, for this series of short tours around the Silvies River flood plain. Each 2-hour tour will visit a different part of the valley in search of the region's avian abundance. Maximum registration for each group is 9 people, so everyone will have a window seat. Enjoy Steve's expert skills and infectious enthusiasm as you explore the floodplain with a 20-year Malheur veteran!


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  6am-3pm

SATURDAY 6am-3pm

BLITZEN VALLEY BIRDING

$125


Join our featured speaker Noah Strycker for bird watching at some of his favorite places in the Blitzen Valley. This tour will take you through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge with a stop at the historic Sod House Ranch to view the heron and cormorant rookery, a stop Refuge Headquarters, and then a drive through the center of the Refuge past wetlands, ponds, meadows and riparian areas to Page Springs Campground. This tour will give you the opportunity to view a wide variety of species on the Refuge and through the Silivies River Floodplain. Join Noah for some personal expertise on birding in Harney County!


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  8am-4pm

SATURDAY 8am-4pm

BOCA LAKE HIKE

$80


Enjoy a leisurely 5-mile birding hike to one of the hidden gems of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Candace Larson, Field Biologist with the Portland Audubon Society, guides you through this beautiful sub-basin of the Blitzen Valley, exploring the wetlands and surrounding habitats of the 600-acre Boca Lake. You can expect an abundance of water birds and plenty of upland species as you walk the road that circumnavigates the lake. The selected area is otherwise closed to the public!  This is a terrific opportunity to combine birding and exercise with an adventure to a very special place.


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  4am-10am

SATURDAY 4am-10am

CATLOW VALLEY SAGE GROUSE

$300 

Includes: One room at the Frenchglen Hotel, dinner for two, sack breakfast for two, and two tour seats


This tour is a unique opportunity to learn about Sage-Grouse in Harney County. Your journey begins with a family-style dinner at the Frenchglen Hotel at promptly at 6:30pm. Followed by a peaceful overnight stay at the Historic Frenchglen Hotel. The following morning, the hotel will provide you with a sack breakfast and lunch,  the tour departs at 4 a.m. for a 1.5 hour trip to a lek on Roaring Springs Ranch. Over 20 male Sage-Grouse may be strutting and you’ll have 2 hours out of the vehicle for viewing, photographs, etc. Roaring Springs Ranch Biologist Andrew Shields leads this tour and shares results of Sage-Grouse research being conducted to learn more about these unique birds. The tour concludes back in Frenchglen at 10:00 a.m., leaving plenty of time for a full afternoon of birding in the Blitzen Valley. This is an amazing opportunity to see and hear Sage-Grouse in their natural setting! 


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY  7:30-2:30

SATURDAY 7:30-2:30

CATTLEWOMENS WORKING RANCH TOUR

$45


Travel to a working cattle ranch with members of the Harney County Cattlewomen as your hosts. You get to meet the ranch owners – multi-generational, family ranchers – who will explain ranch management techniques that are sustainable and support wildlife, especially migratory birds, in the Harney Basin. Local range scientists from the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center will provide a presentation on the work they do and the benefits to wildlife as well.  Family friendly.

Homemade lunch included.


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY

8am-12pm

eBIRD TOUR

$40


New to birding or visiting a new place and want to maximize bird watching opportunities? Join birder extraordinaire Merle Greenway for a short workshop to learn how to use eBird – a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way birders report and access information about birds and sightings! eBird is a great way for beginning birders to narrow down the potential birds in a particular area and discover local hot spots (no matter where you are!) to maximize your birding time. This workshop is part classroom, part field tour. You can download the eBird app for your iPhone or Android phone before the workshop. Your approach to birding will never be the same!


BIrding intensity: 


FRIDAY

8am-12pm

HARNEY BASIN ROCK ART

$60


Join local archaeologists from the Bureau of Land Management – Scott Thomas and Carolyn Temple – for a rock art tour that focuses on the center of the basin. Explore different types of rock art made in ancient times by the first people to live in southeastern Oregon. Visit pictograph sites where the rocks were painted in different color pigments and have survived for millennia. Petroglyph sites – where the designs were made by grinding or pecking the boulders with hammer and stones – are viewed as well. The tour loops from near Harney Lake to Diamond, and then back to Burns through New Princeton and Crane. There is a short stop to visit the Round Barn Visitor Center, and – if time permits – a look at the historic Pete French Round Barn.  Family friendly.


Birding intensity: 


FRIDAY

12:30-5:30pm

HEY WHAT'S THAT BIRD

$50


Birding for beginners! New to bird watching, looking to hone your novice birding skills, or just interested in the potential for bird watching as a hobby? This is the tour for you! Ducks Unlimited Biologist Chris Colson leads this tour and guides you through basic bird identification, habitat identification for common bird species and insights into the world of bird watching. Family friendly.


Birding intesnsity: 


SUNDAY

8am-2pm

HIKE THE WILD DOUBLE O

$75


Unique unto itself, the “Wilds” of the Double O unit of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are a blend of playas, dunes, meadows, lakes and ponds. Join local birder extraordinaire Joan Suther and Rick Vetter on this adventurous 2.5 mile hike to the Stinking Lake Research Natural Area. Be the first to explore where natural features are preserved for scientific purposes and natural processes are allowed to dominate! Hiking will include sections off-trail and on uneven ground. Plan accordingly. If weather conditions do not permit a tolerable hike, plan on a vehicle escort instead.


Birding intensity:  


FRIDAY  8am-4pm

SATURDAY 8am-4pm

LLAMAS: AMID THE MARSHES AT DOUBLE O

$80


Swallows swoop over the fields while songbirds call from the willows and waterfowl cackle on the ponds. Owls try to sleep amid the din, while raptors soar over the high cliffs. The Double-O ranch is a busy part of the Malheur National Wildlife refuge. As many as forty species may be seen in the area during the bird festival. This hands-on llama event puts you in the middle of it all. When you join us for our day-long tour, you will have the opportunity to choose a llama companion who will carry whatever field gear you wish to bring. You may assist with saddling and are encouraged to lead your llama during the tour. The route follows level tracks and trails that are otherwise closed to the public. Hiking distance varies depending on the interests of the group, but generally is from three to five miles. Suggested gear includes a hearty lunch, reference books and plenty of warm clothes. Camera gear, scopes and collapsible tripods can be accommodated, but should be well protected against possible jostling. Small folding chairs can also be packed along. Travel distance from Burns to the birding site is about forty miles and is a birding opportunity in its own right. Try something new this year!


Birding intensity:  


SUNDAY

9am-12pm

LLAMA HANDS ON RANCHING

$35


Our female and baby llamas live on a ranch located in the meadowlands three miles north of Burns, where birds and llamas mix in a tremendous spring delight. Curlews, ibises, and cranes, fly low overhead, while Canada geese nest on haystack. Snow geese by the thousands gather in the fields. Amid the excitement, we present a three-hour tour during which you will have the opportunity to practice grooming, lead llamas through obstacles, and go on a short walk. If the babies have arrived, you will meet them personally and have a chance to pet and hold them. The activities provide great photographic opportunities. During the tour we will also present you with a complete background on the care, history, breeding and uses of these fascinating animals. Collectively we have nearly sixty years of experience that covers all manner of llama activities, ranging from leading a 4H club, to training llamas to pull carts, and taking lengthy wilderness pack trips. The tour provides an excellent opportunity to answer your questions at length. This is a family friendly, casual experience for anyone interested!



THURSDAY

7pm-12am

OWL PROWL

$55

More details to come.

Birding intensity:  


SATURDAY

8am-3pm

RESTORATION BIRDING

$70


Huh? What’s this tour about? Go bird watching with Ducks Unlimited Biologist Chris Colson and Brenda Smith, Executive Director of the High Desert Partnership! Colson and Smith will help you gain a better understanding of the role the Harney Basin plays in the Pacific Flyway and the wetland/floodplain restoration efforts in the area, aimed at improving habitat for migratory birds. This tour moves through the Silvies River Floodplain with a stop at the Narrows (you can purchase lunch here!) on Malheur Lake, then travels to Sod House Dam on the Donner und Blitzen River and on to the historic Sod House Ranch to visit the colonial nesting great blue heron and winter roosting bald eagles. A short drive into the Blitzen Valley is also on the agenda.

The Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative, an effort umbrella under the High Desert Partnership, will be a subject of interest on this tour. The Initiative is a cooperate effort between conservation partners, local ranching families and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – all working to build an understanding of how to manage the flood-irrigated wet meadows in the Harney Basin in a manner that reduces carp reintroduction, provides food for migrating water birds, and provides a sustainable economic return for ranching families. The Harney Basin is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway and this cooperative effort will ensure it remains a healthy stopover for decades to come.


Birding intensity:  


SATURDAY

8am-10am

2pm-4pm

SUNDAY

8am-10am

SANDHILL CRANE DISCOVERY

$30


Discover the world of Sandhill cranes with crane biologist Gary Ivey from the International Crane Foundation. This tour focuses on finding Sandhill cranes and learning about their biology and migration. Ivey is a Research Associate at the Foundation and works on research, monitoring, environmental education and habitat conservation projects for the sake of crane conservation.


Birding intensity:  


FRIDAY  6am-5pm

SATURDAY 6am-5pm

SOUTH HARNEY & ALVORD DESERT

$100


Spend the day with local birding experts Tim Blount (harneybirder.com), who just came out with his new Birding the Pacific Northwest Book,  which will be available for purchase during the festival,  and Joan Suther, exploring lakes and landscapes on the east side of Steens Mountain. Plan to learn about the distinctive desert habitat of these seldom visited lakes and the surrounding area, and see some of Oregon’s unique desert bird species…over 90 have been identified on this all-encompassing tour! Spotting scopes are available for your use, or bring your own as you spend time at each lake searching for birds and other wildlife.


Birding intensity:  


SUNDAY

7am-12pm

WILLOWS, CATTAILS, MEADOWS...OH MY!

$60


Ever wonder why birds use some areas more than others? What entices birds to rest and nest at different locations? Duck Unlimited Field Biologist and expert bird watcher Chris Colson specializes in restoring habitat for birds in the Pacific Northwest. Colson leads this tour and will help you learn how to detect the best habitat viewing locations for your favorite birds; understand which plants birds prefer during various seasons of the year; and gain insight into the life-cycle of many birds using the Harney Basin. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to bird watch with an expert!


Birding intensity:  


FRIDAY

6am-12pm

SATURDAY

6am-12pm

STEENS MTN GUEST RANCH HORSE TRAIL RIDE AND STAY

$380

Enjoy a relaxing time with the O'Crowley's at the base of the breathtaking Steens Mountain in Diamond Valley.  Start your trip by checking into your room for two by 5pm and enjoy dinner for two.   The porch wrapping the front of the house is perfect for setting up your scope to view the evening bird activity.  The next morning enjoy a cowboy breakfast for two.  Head out for a 3-4 hour horse trail ride where you will see a variety of birds, including Sandhill Cranes, blue mountain birds, eagles, and snow geese.  No horseman skill required, but please be aware that you will be riding a horse.


 Birding intensity: