The Dale Hale Woodpecker Festival takes place annually over a long week in early June. In 2023, it will occur June 1-4.
Although most of the festival field trips take place in the Sisters area, a number of other trips venture out to locations throughout the Central Oregon region.
Descriptions of the 2023 festival field trips can be found below. Please note that field trips vary from year to year based on trip leader availability and habitat conditions.
For more information about what you can expect on a festival field trips click here.
To register for field trips, click here.
2023 Field trips
Thursday, June 1
Summer Lake 1 $50 (full day 6:30am – 6pm) – Not many woodpeckers but this is a fantastic day out and some great scenery. We will arrive at Fort Rock on the edge of the Great Basin and search for sparrows (Sagebrush, Brewers, Vesper) as well as Say’s Phoebe, Sage Thrasher, Logger-head Shrike. At the rock there are White-throated Swifts and Canyon Wrens. In the agricultural fields we will see lots of raptors including eagles, Prairie Falcon, Swainson’s and Ferruginous Hawks. The next stop will be the oasis of Summer Lake. This wildlife area is full of egrets, night-herons, bitterns, rails, waterfowl, curlews, avocets, stilts and Snowy Plover, and possible Black-throated Sparrow and Yellow Rail. The terrain is generally level with packed dirt and gravel paths. Meet your guides at Wickiup Junction Park and Ride, Burgess Road, La Pine by 6:30 am. Guides:Diane Burgess, Tom Penpraze
Summer Lake 2: $40 ( 6:30 am-4 pm) For those who prefer a shorter day, but with the same desire to explore Fort Rock and Summer Lake Wildlife Area. Meet your guides at Wickiup Junction Park and Ride, Burgess Rd, La Pine by 6:00 am.Guides: Duke Tufty, Marty St. Louis, Wendy Andrick
Friday, June 2 ( all full day trips(7am-3pm) are $45)
Keynote Address, 7pm: “Woodpeckers as Keystone Homebuilders” | Steve Shunk, author of Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America and Kurt Traczinski, PhD will discuss the role woodpeckers play in the ecology of our forests. Location: Five Pines Lodge, Sisters, OR. Social gathering will start at 5 PM with appetizers and a no-host bar. Keynote address starts at 7 PM. Entry is $20 Register here
Shevlin Park/Awbrey Hall Burn – We go to Shevlin Park for the spectacle of many Lewis’s Woodpeckers and sapsuckers, then to the old Awbrey Hall Burn to view our resident birds of the big Ponderosa pines, with a chance for Pileated Woodpecker and Black-backed Woodpecker. Both areas are rich in migrants so we will also see songbirds of the riparian areas and pine forest including empids and Calliope Hummingbirds. Expect to walk about three miles [slowly] on forest trails with slopes and rough spots. These trails also go through areas likely to have ticks. Meet your group at Shevlin Park, Aspen Hall Parking lot in Bend by 7:30am. Optional carpooling from Creekside Park at 7am Guides: Mary Poss, Patty Meehan
Sunriver Nature Trails- We hope to visit the resident Trumpeter Swans which we can observe on SNC’s Lake Aspen. Located in both open and Ponderosa Pine habitat, many birds can be seen including nesting Western and Mountain Bluebirds, and (across the river) safe and sound Great Gray Owls have nested in recent years. Time permitting, the group may travel to a recently burned forest area; there will be flexibility on areas visited depending on what is being seen. We will walk about 4-6 miles on paved, uneven mulch, and rough gravel paths, as long as along a road for a few stretches. We will leave paths frequently when looking for birds. Meet your guides at Sunriver Nature Center parking lot, 57245 River Rd, Sunriver by 7:30 am.. Guides:Diane Burgess, Aaron Jenkins
Native Plants/Birding – Crooked River Ranch is an 11,000 acre community located between the Wild and Scenic Crooked and Deschutes Rivers. We will have an opportunity to explore several different habitats managed by the BLM for birds and wildflowers. We will begin our adventure at the Native Plant Interpretive Garden, located by the tennis courts and a pond with nesting yellow-headed blackbirds. Volunteers with Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area (FANs) created the garden to showcase native shrubs, wildflowers, and bunchgrasses of the sagebrush steppe. Plants in bloom during our visit should include bush oceanspray, purple sage, Oregon sunshine, Richardson’s penstemon, desert yellow daisy, threadleaf fleabane, white-stemmed globemallow, and sulphur and rock buckwheat.
Our next stop will be a few miles away at the Otter Bench trailhead on the rim of the Crooked River Canyon. The next few stops will be along the Deschutes River, where we will see an active golden eagle nest and some Native American rock art. The longest hike will be a one-mile round trip to see the iconic Steelhead Falls, recently featured on one of the twelve newly released Wild and Scenic River Stamps. American dippers nest under the falls. The group will have lunch at the leader’s deck overlooking the Deschutes Canyon while observing American Kestrels nesting in a nearby box. Group will meet at 7am at Creekside Park in Sisters, where carpooling will be organized for the 40 min.drive to Crooked River Ranch. Guide:Marilyn Keyser
Oregon Outback Loop– Sage, Fort Rock and Cabin Lake (Half Day Trip $35) -This trip is an excursion into the Oregon Outback to see species found in juniper and sage habitats. The first stop will be the sagebrush desert surrounding Fort Rock Natural Area, to find Sage Thrasher, Sagebrush Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow and Ferruginous and Swainson’s Hawk. We will have ample time to explore the magnificent Fort Rock area to find and observe White-throated Swift, Prairie Falcon, Rock Wren and Canyon Wren. We will leave the sage desert expanse to visit the higher elevation area of Cabin Lake, where desert merges with Pine forest. The Cabin Lake blinds, a collaborative effort between ECAS and ODFW, allow close encounters with White-headed Woodpecker, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, Western Tanager and Pinyon Jay. Meet your guide at the Wickiup Junction/Burgess Road Park &Ride in LaPine by 7AM Guide: Steve Kornfeld
Saturday, June 3 (full day trips are $40)
Suttle Lake/Shadow Lake(full day) – If you’ve been to the Festival before and have already experienced the amazing abundance of Black-backed and other woodpeckers in the area burns, this trip will be of interest to you. We will visit a route through the forest at higher elevations near the Cascade crest. We begin around Suttle Lake looking for species like Hermit Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, and Barrow’s Goldeneye. From there we will trace a loop up through some mixed burned/live forest. Species here might include Willow Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Jay, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Hammond’s and Dusky flycatchers, and MacGillivray’s Warbler. We will also visit the Shadow Lake burn for more woodpecker possibilities. We should be able to find good numbers of White-headed, Lewis’s, and Hairy Woodpeckers, plus all the sapsuckers. Meet your guide at Creekside Park, Sisters. Jim Moodie
Empids and Woodpeckers and Others, Oh, my! (full day) – This is a “study and learn” trip in the Green Ridge area of the Sisters Forest Service, focusing on the local Empids usually seen in early summer such as Gray, Dusky, Hammond’s, Pacific-slope and Willow. There will also be opportunities to see various sparrows such as thick–billed Fox Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee as well as some species that are either hybrids or maybe subject to splits in the coming years. Woodpeckers, perhaps more Sapsuckers than others, will be seen since they are in most areas visited. Meet your guide at Creekside Park, Sisters. Steve Kornfeld
Shevlin Park (half day) $35 – We go to Bend’s Shevlin Park for the spectacle of Lewis’s Woodpeckers and sapsuckers. The tour will be on smooth, relatively easy trails in the beautiful Tumalo Creek valley with its old growth Ponderosa Pines and Western Larch trees. We hope to find other resident birds like sparrows of the bush and songbirds of the riparian area including empids and Calliope Hummingbirds. Caution – these trails go through areas likely to have ticks. Meet at Shevlin Park, Aspen Hall parking lot by 9 AM; this walk ends before noon. Gordon Wetzel, Lynda Paznokas, Skip Paznokas
Metolius Preserve with Steve Shunk (Half Day, $35) Join the woodpecker festival founder and author of the Peterson Woodpecker Guide for a morning on the Deschutes Land Trust’s Metolius Preserve. The Land Trust purchased this 1,240-acre property from Willamette Industries in 2002, and they have since engaged in intensive restoration activities. Steve conducted the first formal bird surveys on the preserve from 2004-2007. You will explore some of the most productive habitats, with an emphasis on woodpecker ecology and conservation. The tour will include up to three miles of walking, mostly on trails but also on some uneven ground. Bring water, snacks, sun protection, and good hiking shoes. Meet your guide at Creekside Park, Sisters. Guide: Steve Shunk
Trout Creek Butte Loop – This trip will follow the FS 1018 Road from the Mackenzie Hwy to the 15 Road and return to the Mackenzie Hwy. It includes Scott Pass Trailhead and Trout Creek Swamp which has good Pileated territory and in recent years, American Three-toed Woodpeckers have nested here. Many other birds are found in the surrounding brush such as Lazuli Bunting, flycatchers, Hermit and Townsend’s warblers, Green-tailed Towhee, and Townsend’s Solitaire. The habitat is quite varied with burn, scrub, and denser forest. We will also visit Cold Springs Campground which is good for the sapsuckers and White-headed Woodpeckers. The terrain includes bumpy trails, uneven ground and modest inclines. Meet your guides at Creekside Park, Sisters. Guides:Diane Burgess,Aaron Jenkins
Sunday, June 4 (all trips are half day 8am-1pm)$35
Native Plants/Birding – See Trip Description on June 2 for Details
Camp Polk Meadow Preserve – Owned and managed by Deschutes Land Trust, this is a great meadow with willow, alders and other riparian habitat. Dippers nest on the river; Virginia and Sora Rails can be found in the ponds. A diversity of spasuckers, White-headed Woodpeckers, Calliope Hummingbirds, a variety of flycatchers and warblers are all possible. Great Horned Owls are often seen. Since this area can often be marshy and buggy, long pants and waterproof footwear is recommended. This area has grassy trails with inclines and uneven ground; walking poles and tick-prevention clothing are recommended. A Deschutes Land Trust waiver will be required with registration. Meet your guide at Creekside Park, Sisters Guide-Coleen Pidgeon
Calliope Crossing – You are going to enjoy your visit to this Deschutes County birding hotspot! Dense riparian habitat surrounded by ponderosa pine forest supports all three Sapsuckers, Pacific Slope and Gray Flycatchers, Cassin’s Vireo, Western Wood-pewee, House Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Cassin’s Finch and Calliope Hummingbird. Among uncommon birds in the area are Wild Turkey and Northern Pygmy-Owl. Trails walked will be typically level, with some uneven ground. Meet your guides, Sherrie Pierce & Aaron Jenkins, at Creekside Park, Sisters at 7 AM. Bring snacks and water.
Banding Bluebirds/Kestrels – Attendees will be taken to a local bluebird trail where they will be able to observe young bluebirds (and maybe kestrels) being banded. Local banders will explain the banding program. The group will have the opportunity for hands-on experience with managing bluebird boxes for nesting bluebirds and kestrels. Meet your guide at Creekside Park, Sisters, at 8am. Ken Hashagen