March brings the southward movement of many migratory land birds and as an avid birder I wanted to share the many birding opportunities that can be found in Oregon. The Oregon Cascade Birding Trail (OCBT) is a self-guided tour highlighting nearly 200 prime birding destinations designed to showcase the region's birds and spectacular scenery. This blog will focus on the Mt Hood Loop of the Oregon Cascade Birding Trail. Let's get settled first before we begin our birding adventure. There are Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild member inns near many an OCBT trailhead where you can begin your day with a northwest culinary breakfast and the geotourism knowledge our innkeepers have to share.
The Mt. Hood Loop of the OCBT rises from the Columbia River to Mt. Hood, the highest point in Oregon, and combines some of the best of the region's birding with legendary Oregon scenery. This loop traverses the Columbia River National Scenic Area and the Mt. Hood National Forest and visits 19 birding sites.
Lewis and Clark traveled the Columbia Gorge corridor. The Lewis' Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker and Clark's Grebe were named in their honor. Many species of waterfowl and raptors including the Bald Eagle inhabit the river and further up the mountain you'll observe woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and so many more.
One of my favorite hikes, and I have many, is the Tamanawas Falls trail. The falls are amazing at 100 feet high and 40 feet wide. The trailhead footbridge is the midpoint of a 8-mile stretch of the East Fork of the Hood Riverhosting nesting Harlequin Ducks. A riparian habitat and mature mixed-conifer forest surrounds the trail to the falls.
After you've explored the trails on the north side of Mt. Hood head on around to the south and western flanks where the Sandy and Zig Zag Rivers lead you past Trillium Lake and through Wildwood Recreation Area. The Brightwood Guest House B&B, the site of a former pioneer way station, can provide a home base while searching for the elusive Pileated Woodpecker. Bring out the hiking boots and binoculars, pack your bags and begin your Oregon Birdwatching adventure.