For birders taking the Newport-Corvallis route on U.S. Highway 20 there is a short side trip in Benton County which has excellent birding potential. From the west, one can begin the route by turning right off U.S. 20 at milepost 36.7 onto Old Blodgett Road. the first 0.5 miles the road passes a wet field bordered by a thick hedgerow. Common Yellowthroat and Red-winged Blackbird are regular here. At 0.3 miles there is a large barn on the right which hosts a colony of Cliff Swallows. At the half mile mark the road begins to climb through a mixed conifer/deciduous forest. Follow this road 2.1 miles. Then take a right on Harris Road. At this junction there is good habitat for Hammond’s Flycatcher. Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch and Dark-eyed Junco have been recorded, and just a little to the east on Old Blodgett Road, White-breasted Nuthatch has been found in pines.
As you follow Harris Road south and east, for the next four miles it passes through a variety of conifer and mixed forest. as well as several clear cuts and young regenerating forests. This is a very birdy stretch of road, and it is likely that all the breeding species native to the Coast Range can be found along it. One of the most birdy spots is at the two mile mark, where the road crosses Mary’s River.
At 4.1 miles you begin to break out of the forest into an area of small fields bordered by woods. For the next mile, watch and listen for Wild Turkey, which is regular in the area. At the 5 mile mark, the road runs parallel for a time with Mary’s River. At 5.4 miles there is a good stretch of riparian habitat near Harris Bridge. From here on the habitat is a bit more like that found in the Willamette Valley, with some fields and a mix of primarily deciduous trees, with a lot of ash trees and some oaks.
At 7.8 miles the road passes under Highway 20. At 7.9 miles turn left on Wren Road. at 8.0 miles turn left again. Go 0.1 miles to Oregon Highway 223. Turn left again, and in 0.2 miles you will complete the route with a return to U.S. 20.
Birders wishing to approach the route from the east should turn north off U.S, 20 one half mile west of MP 46 onto Oregon Highway 223.Directions
Habitat and Birds
Mixture of open fields, riparian and forest habitats. Warblers, chickadees, nuthatches, Wild Turkey, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Evening and Black-headed Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Dark-eyed Junco and Western Tanager are a few of many birds which can be found here.