Guided birding trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and (hopefully) Steens Mountain in the Fall

10/14/2017 - 10/18/2017


  • $200.00


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Drive from Tacoma in a caravan
Burns, OR
United States


This trip will show support for Tahoma Audubon and for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which has recently reopened after cleaning up and increasing security due to the long occupation.

Jerry Broadus and Clarice Clark were volunteer bird surveyors for at least two months per year for five years at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, south of Burns Oregon. Living and birding there introduced them to the people, places, and wildlife in and around the refuge in spring, summer and fall. Fall is a special time at Malheur, it is the time when rarities are seen at headquarters and scattered about the ponds. This year is a high water year, with water in Malheur Lake all the way to the Narrows, which often makes for good fall birding, and the mosquitoes are gone.

Join them on a guided trip to Malheur and surrounding area October 14 through 17, returning on the 18th. The cost is $200/ person, which includes your experience and the expert guides, picnic lunches on Oct 15, 16, and 17, and a donation to support Tahoma Audubon Society. You are responsible for your own transportation, lodging, breakfasts, and dinners. We require a $150 non-refundable deposit, which is a donation to Tahoma Audubon Society.


We will drive down from Tacoma, by caravan or carpools if possible, on October 14 to Burns (which is an 8 to 9 hour drive). We can keep in touch by radio or cell phone, and stop at birding spots along the way. We plan on birding near Burns before settling in to motel rooms on the October 14, and then to bird the north part of the refuge, including double O, on October15, returning for the night in Burns. On October 16 we plan on birding the middle and south part parts of the refuge, followed by dinner at the Historic Diamond Hotel, where Clarice and Jerry will be staying (and they have other rooms available at this time). On October 17 we plan on ascending Steens Mountain, on the highest public road in Oregon, for spectacular views and possible Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch (and Jerry has seen Mountain Bluebirds, horned larks, and Townsend’s solitaire on the slopes of Steens in October on past trips). If, for some reason, the gravel road up Steens in not open we can do the Fields Station, Alvord Desert loop (which could include a visit to Borax Lake if conditions permit). For the whole trip we plan on being flexible, leaving open a visit to Fields in any case as it is a good migrant trap. Dinner again can be at Diamond, including a celebration of Jerry’s 70th birthday (not the exact date, but close enough). Then on October 18 participants can start home as they wish, with several routes available, including the John Day fossil area.

This is not a van trip. We are asking for people to arrange their own transportation, preferably by car pool, and their own lodging as well as breakfasts. We are including a list of contact numbers for accommodations. Clarice and Jerry will act as guides and are the experts in planning a memorable experience, and they will purchase food for picnic lunches. They will lay out the picnic spreads on the 15th through the 17th. We will meet at a pre-arranged point each morning so we can drive together to the birding spots. Diamond Hotel has the advantage of being opposite the mid-point of the refuge, and is near a good meeting spot to begin the trips on the last two days, but this trip works well if you decide to stay in Burns or in Frenchglen—we will simply arrange a meeting place each day. We will plan on having dinners together every evening, but each participant will be responsible for his or her bill.

Lodging contact numbers (although each of these have information on the web, they have no on-line reservations—use the phone numbers):

Hotel Diamond: 541-493-1898 (Gretchen or David)

Frenchglen Hotel: 541-493-2825 (John Ross)

Malheur Field Station: 541-493-2629 (Duncan Evered)

Motels in Burns can generally be reserved on-line. Clarice and Jerry usually stay at the Best Western Rory and Ryan Inn.

All photos by Jerry Broadus, taken at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge