Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society

Birding Locations: Burbank, Wallula and the Walla Walla River Delta areas Walla County, Washington

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The Great Washington State Birding Trail Map for the Sun and Sage Loop is available from Audubon Washington.  The map offers more birding locations and  information for birding in South Central Washington.
Hood State Park, Walla Walla County, Washington
click here for Google Map
Coordinates:  46.211438,-119.013176

Hood Park is a recreation area near the mouth of the Snake River, maintained by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.  In addition to picnic, camping, and boating facilities, the maintained park contains large, old trees ideal for birds.  Look for Wood Duck in the ponds, migrants in the trees, and water birds in the Snake River.  Look for winter birds like Varried Thrush and sparrows in the lawn and riparian areas.  The removal of Russian Olive trees may have decreased the historic diversity of birds seen here. Rarities have included Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  

See also Birder's Guide to Washington, Page 505.


McNary National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Walla Walla County, Washington
click here for Google Map
Coordinates:  46.200745,-119.000816

Headquarters (HQ), Mid-Columbia River Refuge System
and McNary NWR Environmental Education Center (MEEC)

The Refuge System headquarters with newly constructed administration and education buildings is located on Maple Street at Lake Road in Burbank.  Maple Street no longer extends to Highway 12 so access to this area is from Hwy 124 or Humorist Rd. (The Google map showing the Maple St/Hwy 12 intersection is out of date.)

Headquarters Pond has great waterfowl viewing.  Look for raptors or migrants in the large trees around the headquarters.  Park and walk trails to the hyde (bird blind) for excellent viewing of the marsh.  This area is good birding year around.  Rarities have included Prothonotory Warbler and Swamp Sparrow.  

The McNary NWR Environmental Education Center (MEEC) is home of Lower Columbia Basin Audubon's taxidemy collection, and the location of free kid-friendly environmental activities.  Programs for classrooms are provided frequently, and the second Saturday morning of each month, a program is available free to adults and children without reservation.
  
McNary has a huge number of waterfowl in winter. Riparian and marsh habitats support many other birds.

A small fishing area on the Snake River on the west side of Highway 12 is another good location to see waterfowl.  Take Highway 24 west across Highway 12 and go behind the grain elevator.

Hanson Loop Road, Casey & Hansen Ponds, Milepost 300 Pond and Two Rivers HMU
Southeast of the Refuge HQ on Highway 12 is a group of pond viewing points.  Look for shorebirds and winter waterfowl.  In spring and fall, watch for Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese.  There is no longer a parking place to view the MP 300 Pond, but once a Ruff was seen here.

Two Rivers HMU is part of McNary NWR, located along Highway 12 near Casey Pond. This location should not be confused with Two Rivers County Park on the other side of the Columbia River.

See also Birder's Guide to Washington, Page 507.


Walla Walla Delta, Madame Dorian Park and Overlook, Port of Wallula, Port Kelly
Walla Walla County, Washington
click here for Google Map
Coordinates: 46.056556,-118.903484

The Walla Walla River Delta area is located just north of the junction between Highway 12 and Highway 730.  There are several viewpoints for watching waterfowl in this vicinity noted on the linked map above.  

The dirt road we have labelled Walla Walla Delta is on the river side of the railroad tracks.  Park and walk trails among the trees and scope the river from hilltops.

When the water is low these mud flats host a huge variety of shorebirds, gulls, and waterfowl. The list of rarities is huge including Steller's Eider and Garganey. Other more likely rare birds are Parasitic Jaeger, Sabine's and Franklin's Gulls, and any of the rare shorebirds. In 2007, a Brown Pelican was seen here. The Walla Walla Delta is currently part of McNary NWR.


Madame Dorian Park has riparian birding; a Pine Grossbeak was once seen there. Madame Dorian Overlook views the Walla Walla River and is good for shorebirding; oddities such as Willet and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper have been seen there.  

Port of Wallula and Port Kelly (farther south on Highway 730) afford good views of the overwintering waterfowl on the Columbia River.

See also Birder's Guide to Washington, Pages 508-9.


Tyson Ponds. Boise Cascade Compost Heaps, and Dodd Road Sludge Field, Walla Walla County, Washington
click here for Google Map
Coordinates:  46.127151,-118.899021

Ponds are terrific for shorebirding. STAY OFF PRIVATE PROPERTY. Bird from the dirt road with a scope. Compost piles can have huge numbers of gulls and blackbirds in winter.

Formerly called Iowa Beef Ponds
, the ponds store waste water from the Tyson Beef operation and are PRIVATE PROPERTY.  However, they can be viewed with  spotting scopes from a public dirt road accessed from Highway 12. The Google map above indicates the approximate location of the dirt road used to view the ponds. Be very careful of private property; do not cross the railroad tracks.  Ponds vary in water level and bird concentrations.  

Enroute, via the Dodd Road Sludge field, scan for shorebirds and American Pipit. Check plovers for American Golden-Plover.

Nearer to Highway 12 are compost heaps more affectionately known as the Poop Piles. Find gulls and blackbirds here in winter. Glaucous Gull is found regularly. Rarities have included Lesser Black-backed Gull and Rusty Blackbird.

See also Birder's Guide to Washington, Page 507-8