Irrigon Area

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Irrigon is located between Boardman and Umatilla on Hwy 730. This little town is right on the Columbia offering a variety of birding possibilities. Take I-84 to exit 168. Travel NE for 3.9 miles to Paterson Ferry Road (45.867090, -119.558741). This road leads to a tour loop around McCormack Slough and is one of the most productive birding areas in the county (look for the signs to Umatilla NWR). Turn left (north) here and drive about 3 miles to the entrance of the tour loop. You need to go past the rest area (which can be birded), and the exit to the tour loop to gain entrance. Take the loop which exits near Columbia Lane. Take Columbia Lane east into Irrigon. Before you reach town, take a detour on 8th Street to the fish hatchery (45.908989, -119.546317). Return to Columbia and bird the trees in the town. Take 10th Street north to Marina Park to view the river (45.900466, -119.491265). Note that there is a sign that points to Marina Park at 8th Street but it leads to a dead end. Walk the trail both east and west of the park for migrants. East is better and part of the trail is paved.


Habitat and Birds

The Umatilla NWR provides a varied group of habitats that will produce a diversity of species. There is marsh here along with open water ponds. The ODFW produces grain crops like wheat and corn to attract birds. Note know that hunting is allowed here and can influence your birding in the fall. Tall cottonwood and Russian Olive groves are present that can provide shelter and sustenance for many species. Birds you might find here include gulls, ducks, grebes, loons, shorebirds, terns, migrant passerines, and rails. Check the trees for Western Screech-Owl and Great Horned Owl. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks are both here feeding on small birds. In winter, Savannah Sparrows are common in the grassy regions of the loop. In Irrigon, check Marina Park for loons, gulls, ducks, and grebes. There are several fruiting trees in this park and a waxwing flock might produce a rare Bohemian Waxwing sighting. If you have time for one stop in Morrow County, this should be your spot. Birders heading to Umatilla County or the Wallowas shouldn’t pass up this quick detour.

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