Our unique habitat
The Klamath Basin straddles the Oregon-California border and sits between the Cascade Mountains to the west and the high desert and the Great Basin to the east. A wide variety of habitats converge here and provide for incredible biodiversity, including open water, marshes, meadows, coniferous forests, juniper woodlands, sagebrush grasslands, and rocky cliffs.
The mountainous areas include Crater Lake and its surrounding National Park, reaching to nearly 9,000 feet, and vast areas of National Forest. The forests provide habitat for Mountain Quail, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Northern Goshawk, and eleven owl species. The strongly contrasting landscape of Lava Beds National Monument in the south borders the sage grasslands of the Great Basin and provides habitat for characteristic species such as Sage Thrasher, Brewer's Sparrow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Gray Flycatcher.
The Basin is perhaps most famous for the open water and marsh habitats provided by Upper Klamath Lake and the six-member Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge complex. Wet meadows in the Wood River Valley and Upper Klamath and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges are home to Sora, Virginia Rail, and the elusive Yellow Rail, and Upper Klamath Lake provides nesting habitat for "dancing" Western and Clark's Grebes. The refuges along the border of Oregon and California (Lower Klamath and Tule Lake) host upwards of 80% of the migrating waterfowl that use the Pacific Flyway, numbering at times to over a million birds and including large numbers of Ross's Geese. These refuges and the surrounding agricultural lands also provide hunting grounds for one of the densest concentrations of wintering raptors in the country. Indeed, the Basin hosts the largest wintering concentration of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, many of which roost together in Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Bird of the Month
While most dabbling ducks are denizens of the shallows, American Wigeon spend much of their time in flocks grazing on land. Paradoxically, they also spend more time than other marsh ducks on deep water, where they get much of their food by stealing it from other birds such as coots or diving ducks. This duck was once known as "Baldpate" because of its white crown.
Area field trips are scheduled on various weekends. They range from half-day outings to birding hot spots to the occasional weekend trips. Field trips are open to KBAS members and nonmembers alike. You do not have to be a birding expert: only one who enjoys the phenomenal natural opportunities that abound.
Also see the Klamath Basin Bird News for birds seen on recent field trips and by birders in general.
Field trips typically go to local or regional hotspots designated as part of the Klamath Basin Birding Trail.
What to Bring?
It's a good idea to bring a small backpack with rain gear, hat, sunscreen, field guide, and binoculars. A drink and a snack may be advisable as well, to keep the energy up. Wear suitable shoes. Subdued colored clothing is preferable but not essential.
For full day outings take your lunch. Ask whether you will be returning to the cars for lunch. Many people also take a drink and a snack to have at the end of the walk.
It is important to respect any and all wildlife that you are appreciating. We endorse a birding code of ethics and hope that you will too. For more information on birding ethics please visit this Audubon Society page.