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Malheur National Wildlife Refuge - BirdForum Opus



Described as an exceptional part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is 187,757 acres/75, 982 hectares in the high desert of the State of Oregon.

Within this expanse of habitat lives a significant, diverse population of animal and bird species. Precisely what a visitor might find can depend on the season of the year they visit.

Spring can bring the Northern Pintail to an area where the Sandhill Crane can be seen in the meadows by visitors. Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds have been arriving since late in the winter.

As summer becomes the rule, nesting birds are beginning to make their presence known, with young ducks and geese becoming numerous around the Refuge's ponds and wetlands as can shorebirds on their migration as they stop for a break in the journey. Some of the species that have made their appearance have included the Solitary Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper.

The Sandhill Crane begins to appear as fall approaches, and birders may see species of songbirds with some sparrows.

Warblers have headed south as winter makes its presence known. Species of swans, ducks, and geese might be present, but the counts will be lower due to the temperature and less available open water.

Malheur, with its great diversity of animal and bird species, will have completed a cycle of seasons in preparation for another year to come in what has been called the high desert of the State of Oregon.[1]


Notable Species

Malheur, in terms of available birding resources, has been described as staggering.[3]

Within the refuge's 187,757 acres/75,982.5 hectares, it is host to approximately one half of the world's Ross's Goose population, as much as 20 percent of the White-faced Ibis, and more Sandhill Crane than any other refuge in the western part of the United States. [2]

Approximately 290 species of birds, with the Snow Goose and American White Pelican leading the count, have been sighted here, according to reports submitted to eBird. Locations for birding abound here, with approximately 30 separate Hotspots available in the area of the refuge.[4]


While there have been no species specifically noted as rare for this location, some of those species not frequently seen here could include the Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Pygmy Nuthatch, Peregrine Falcon, Western Screech Owl, and the American Goshawk, to name a few. [4]


Birds you can see here include:

Mallard, California Quail, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Canada Goose, American Avocet, Black Tern, Snow Goose, Lesser Golfinch, Greater White-fronted Goose, White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Crane, American Coot, Barn Swallow, American Robin, Northern Pintail, Franklin's Gull, Tundra Swan

Other Wildlife

While general wildlife, other than birds, have not been investigated extensively, over 55 species of mammals found here, including mule deer, antelope, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions, and on occasion, a Rocky Mountain Elk. Rattlesnakes are a possibility also. [1]

Site Information

History and Use

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was one of the wildlife refuges established during President Theodore Roosevelt's office term. When established, it became the 19th of the 51 created while Roosevelt was in office, the third in Oregon, and one of the six created west of the Mississippi River. [1]

Areas of Interest

Visitor Center & Nature Store

The visitor center and the store is a good starting point for an adventure into Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can get information on recent bird sightings along with maps and brochures.

George Benson Memorial Museum

The museum has taxidermy mounts of birds that you might see on the refuge and exhibits about sights in the park.

Auto Tour Route

The tour is a self-guided route along a gravel road in the refuge offering good wildlife viewing opportunities. A brochure and checklist are available. [1]

Access and Facilities

The Refuge visitor's center is located 35 miles south of Burns, Oregon, and is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

The Boise Airport (BOI) in Boise, Idaho, United States, is the closest major airport to Malheur, offering scheduled airline service. Malheur is approximately a 3 ½ hour drive west of the airport.

Consult a trusted travel professional for specific, up-to-date information regarding a trip to this destination.

Contact Details

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

36391 Sodhouse Lane

Princeton, OR 97721




[email protected]


  1. United States Fish and Wildlife Service - https://www.fws.gov/refuge/malheur/
  2. Portland Audubon - https://audubonportland.org/
  3. Audubon - https://www.audubon.org/
  4. eBird – Malheur National Wildlife Refuge - https://ebird.org/hotspot/L742936

Recommended Citation

External Links

  1. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge


  1. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Google Maps

Content and images originally posted by robertmortensen


robertmortensen's review

My father-in-law traveled from Nampa, Idaho to Malhuer (about a 3 hour drive) and we were able to identify 70 different species in the middle of the summer. Malhuer is also a prime location for migrating birds in the spring and fall. Malhuer consists of miles of marsh lands in the middle of the desert, thus an oasis for birds.


  • A birding paradise in the middle of the desert


  • It's a long ways from everywhere