Spring Creek Great Gray Owl Management Area

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Spring Creek is 12 miles west of La Grande and 43 miles east of Pendleton, off of Interstate 84.Exit 248 off I-84. Take the Spring Creek exit and follow Forest Road 2100 for about 3 miles.

Pacific NW Research Station Brochure– Very specific map of breeding areas.


Habitat and Birds

Open stands of ponderosa pine, denser stands of Douglas fir, and riparian areas. As many as 8 pairs of Great Gray Owls nest in a relatively small area managed by the USFS. Originally, the owls nested in old Northern Goshawk nests but now most nest on nesting platforms placed there when the goshawk nests began to disintegrate. The USFS recommends visiting this location between mid-May and early June. In this window of time, the young will be nearly grown and disturbance will be at a minimum. Remember to use good birding ethics at all times when viewing this and all species of birds. Look for other mountain species like grouse, Accipiters, Vaux’s Swift, Rufous & Calliope Hummingbirds. Woodpeckers include Hairy, Northern Flicker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Downy, and Pileated. Red and White-breasted Nuthatches are common as are Mountain Chickadees and Brown Creeper. Flycatchers include Dusky, Hammond’s, and “Western” (the distribution of Cordilleran and Pacific-slope Flycatcher is uncertain in Union County). Winter Wrens are here year round and Brown-headed Cowbirds can be found in summer. Western Tanagers, Hermit Thrush, Veery, Western & Mountain Bluebirds are all here. Gray Catbirds are possible in the riparian strips and Yellow-breasted Chats hide in the thickets. Listen for both Cassin’s and Warbling Vireos. Warblers include Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Townsend’s, and a possibility of American Redstart. Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco are here. Black-headed Grosbeaks and Evening Grosbeaks can be found along with Cassin’s Finches and Lazuli Bunting. Watch for flocks of Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills. Look for Barred Owls and Northern Pygmy-Owls here too.