No tour of Malheur Refuge is complete without a slow drive along a section of the Center Patrol Road (CPR), with stops to take in the birds and nature along the way. This gravel road bisects the refuge. It consists of two parts – a north half and a south half.Directions
Habitat and Birds
Most of the regular birds of Malheur NWR can be seen from the CPR. Also watch for some of the nearly 60 species of mammals that occur on the refuge. Depending on water levels, the south section is generally considered the more birdy.
During the breeding season look for Cinnamon Teal and Redhead in the canals, along with Black and Forster’s Tern. Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, and Willow Flycatcher are seen in the surrounding willows. Watch for Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbird in and around the marshes. Keep an eye out for Eared and other Grebes and Trumpeter Swans in the deeper lakes. Northern Harriers nest here and are frequently seen hunting over the fields. They may be joined by a Short-eared Owl. Watch for Bobolinks in the fields along the south end of CPR, particularly in the half-mile stretch just north of P Ranch.
Over a hundred Sandhill Cranes nest on the Refuge, but thousands stage here in spring and fall. In fall, conditions are much drier. Watch for sparrows, pipit, and Horned Lark. Raptors are conspicuous in the fall.
Friends of Malheur has a guide to Malheur including a good audio guide to the Center Patrol Road.