*The following article is the second installment in a series of seven, that will focus on local restaurants, attractions, events and unique businesses in Albany. The “Seven Trails” posts are written by AVA Executive Director Jimmie Lucht.
Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley is on the North American Flyway and is home to seven wildlife and bird preserves featuring songbirds and all sizes of birds of prey. Oregon is fifth in bird species diversity in the US, which is attributed to our distinctive eco-regions and relatively mild winters.
No matter the season, both advanced and novice birders will discover something to please the eye and ear in our region. In spring, hear the symphony of migrating or resident songbirds; in summer, watch mating pairs of Oregon’s endangered Harlequin Duck and American Dipper populations; in winter, spy Bald Eagle pairs in their huge nests—home quarters that can easily reach a weight of 1,000 pounds or more.
Yellow-breasted Chats, Bluebirds, Willow Flycatchers, Peregrine Falcons, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Osprey, Caspian Terns, Grebe, Belted Kingfishers, Herons, and nesting sites of more than 53,000 birds are just a sampling of what you might see when visiting one of our local preserves listed below.
The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, located at 2955 Camp Adair Road, Monmouth, this wildlife haven was once a military training facility during WWII. Walking trails not only give you an opportunity to view various flora and fauna, but also tell the story of Camp Adair.
At Cheadle Lake Park, 37954 Weirch Drive, Lebanon, Oregon, you can view the feathered friends that call this park home… some on a temporary basis. Walking trails abound in this park that also plays host to the Lebanon Strawberry Festival—featuring the world’s largest strawberry short cake—and also Lebanon’s Star Spangled Celebration held there on the Fourth of July.
While in Lebanon, visit the beautiful Healing Gardens designed by world renowned artist, Hoichi Kurisu. The gardens are located at the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and Best Western Boulder Falls Inn.
McDowell Creek Falls Trail, a 1.4 mile loop trail featuring multiple waterfalls, is a perfect place for photo opportunities and wildlife. The trail is located at 43170 McDowell Creek Dr, Lebanon.
Whitcomb Creek County Park, at the Green Peter Reservoir in Cascadia, is a 328-acre park that is perfect for enjoying spectacular mountain views, bird-watching, sailing, fishing, hiking, camping, and water skiing on the reservoir.
Yellowbottom Recreation Site is situated in an old growth forest along the beautiful Quartzville Creek. Pan gold, sit in a natural hot pool of water, or just enjoy the tranquility of the area. Yellowbottom offers 22 first come-first served tent sites and is located at Milepost 24 of the Quartzville Back Country Byway, northeast of Sweet Home and upstream of Green Peter Reservoir.
After your discoveries in the beautiful Mid-Willamette Valley, enjoy Albany’s Talking Water Gardens, at 9710 Waverly Drive NE. Read the story about how this garden came about. You’ll be astonished at the photographs that illustrate the garden’s “before and after.” You will marvel at this award-winning wetlands project, and the public/private partnerships involving municipal government and local business that funded it.