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Portland Birding and the Audubon Society

It’s no secret that Portland is passionate about a great many things… food trucks — well, food in general, — green spaces, recycling, the Trail Blazers, and the Timbers, just to name a few; but the residents of Rose City are also incredibly passionate about our birds! If you’ve seen the hit comedy show “Portlandia,” the catchphrase “put a bird on it” might ring a bell! While the show might exaggerate just a tad, we all know there is a tiny bit of truth in every satire, and in the case of Portland’s love for feathered friends, this is no exception.

For a glimpse of some of our favorite bird life right outside of the city, the Portland Audubon Society and their 172-acre Wildlife Sanctuary & Care Center lie tucked away under the trees within Portland’s very own Forest Park. The sanctuary is free to visit, has 4-miles of family friendly hiking trails, and you’ll find the Wildlife Care Center within its boundaries, which is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating native wildlife.  

Because of the plethora of hiking trails in Forest Park and around this area, you can access the sanctuary by road and utilize their parking area or on foot. For those looking to hike in, we recommend parking at the Pittock Mansion, enjoying the beautiful garden and views from there, then hiking downhill on the Wildwood Trail until you reach the main road. From there, the Audubon Society is just a short walk from the trail. 

Once at the Audubon Society, you’ll have a chance to walk through the sanctuary, spend time at the visitor center, and/or check out some of the resident birds who have made the Portland Audubon their home. These birds were brought to the Wildlife Care Center for a variety of reasons and are unable to return to the wild. Fortunately, they have permanent digs and are well cared for by the staff and volunteers that make the Audubon’s world go around. Spend some time with Ruby, the larger-than-life turkey vulture; Ari (short for Aristophanes), the super smart and talkative raven; Julio, the great horned owl; and Xena, the sweet, petite American kestrel. These birds help to educate visitors and serve as Audubon Society ambassadors. Of course, the society is placed with a purpose—Forest Park is also a top location for birders of any level, so you’ll also catch some wild birds gliding through the trees. Keep your eyes peeled! 

The Wildlife Care Center of the Audubon is also one of the few places in the greater metro area that is available to care for sick, injured, or abandoned birds and wildlife, and their efforts are nothing short of heroic! Patients in 2021 have included more than 75 Cooper’s Hawks (who were suspected to have fledged early due to the extreme heatwave this summer) and eight precious little ducklings that Wildwood Adventures’ office coordinator stumbled upon after their mother was hit by a car.  

The Audubon Society relies on the support of the community and gives a lot of credit for its success to its dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors. If you’re local and feel inclined, get involved! Try signing up for one of their bird-centric nature outings, or volunteer for one of their fundraising events. They also offer both youth and adult educational programs that will get you and your family outside year-round. For more information on how you can show your support, peek at their webpage.    

Whether you are a visitor or a PDX local, make sure to add the Audubon Society to your list of places. Say hi to Ruby, Ari, Julio, and Xena for us! To branch further out and explore your new-found birding obsession just a bit further, Tryon State Park in Lake Oswego and Sauvie Island are two other locations close to the city and close to the hearts of Portland bird watchers.