Finch Research Network Partnership Series

Finches & More! Pacific Northwest

Evening Grosbeak, photo by Alex Lamoreaux

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BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2022 :: July 3 - July 9

TRIP LEADERS

TOUR COST

From: $2,400 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Medford, Oregon (MFR)

GROUP SIZE

6-10 Participants

AVAILABILITY

2022: 10 spaces available

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of Finches & More! Pacific Northwest

  • Partnership with the Finch Research Network
  • Expert guides & guest speakers on finch biology
  • Targeting 10+ western finch species!
  • Multiple call Types of Red Crossbill and Evening Grosbeak
  • Regional specialties of the Pacific Northwest
  • Wild and scenic Crater Lake and Mount Rainier National Parks!

Description of Finches & More! Pacific Northwest

Wildside Nature Tours and the Finch Research Network (FiRN) are very excited to team up for our first partnership tour focusing on finch species of the Pacific Northwest! Alex Lamoreaux and finch expert, Matt Young, have custom designed a road-trip from southern Oregon to Seattle, Washington, to track down over 10 species of western finches and other avian specialties of the region! We will look for “Pacific” Purple Finches, multiple call Types of Red Crossbill (Types 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and possibly 1 and 7) and Evening Grosbeaks (Types 1 and 2), scour mountain meadows for “Rocky Mountain” Pine Grosbeak and White-winged Crossbill, visit the alpine tundra for Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, and see Pine Siskin, Cassin’s Finch, and Lesser Goldfinch along the way! This weeklong tour aims to see finches in their natural habitats and learn more about their unique ecology through observing birds in the field and learning from guest biologists. We will also practice audio-recording and identifying finch vocalizations, all while exploring and celebrating the incredible bird diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Dozens of other specialty birds and some of the most beautiful and scenic locations in the country will be visited along our route!

From the damp, old-growth forests of massive Douglas-Firs, cedars, and Madrone covering the coastal range; to the mixed-conifer forests and wildflower-filled meadows of the Cascade Mountains; to high-elevation tundra there is ample space and habitat diversity to maintain a great diversity of finches. Along the coastal ranges where Western Hemlock, Douglas-fir and Sitka Spruce are more common, Red Crossbill call Types 3, 4 and 10 are often found whereas in the more pine-dominated areas of the Cascades, Types 2 and 5 are probable. Additional specialties of the Pacific Northwest will be encountered throughout our journey such as White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Band-tailed Pigeon, Hermit and Townsend’s Warblers, Hutton’s Vireo, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Classic western species like Williamson’s Sapsucker, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Western Tanager, and Lazuli Bunting fill the forests with beautiful color and mesmerizing song. Dry oak savanna and manzanita scrublands of the Rogue Valley offer California Towhee, Oak Titmouse, ‘Pacific’ White-breasted Nuthatch, California Quail, and California Scrub-Jay. Golden Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks may be seen soaring above while elusive Great Gray Owls can be found tucked away at the edges of mountain meadows. Winding our way up the Oregon coast, we are likely to spot Harlequin Ducks, Peregrine Falcon, and Pigeon Guillemot along the rocky shorelines and we will visit massive colonies of Common Murre and Tufted Puffins!

Visits to both Crater Lake and Mount Rainier National Parks highlight this tour. Both of these incredible parks are nestled like jagged crowns into the high elevations of the Cascades. Climbing up through the spruce-fir forests we’ll find a suite of western forest species and possibly any of the targeted five Red Crossbill call Types (spruce is a favorite for any crossbill species or call Types). Mixed flocks of warblers, Mountain Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches are abundant and we will listen closely for the haunting songs of Varied Thrush and Pacific Wren. Keep an eye out for flocks of Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, and Red Crossbill roaming the forest canopy. Clark’s Nutcrackers, ravens, Canada and Steller’s Jays patrol the high country. A morning hike at Crater Lake above the treeline should deliver close views of “Hepburn’s” Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches. Crater Lake is where Evening Grosbeak call Types 1 and 2 are often found. Short hikes through the forest will immerse us in pristine western forest, complete with picturesque waterfalls and butterflies gathering at seeps and springs. Recently-burned patches of forests can harbor shy Black-backed Woodpecker and American Three-toed Woodpecker! This 7-day trip is sure to be jam-packed with great birding opportunities while we explore the Pacific Northwest for it’s impressive collection of finches!

Finch Targets of the Pacific Northwest

  • “Hepburn’s” Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
  • “Western” Purple Finch
  • Cassin’s Finch
  • House Finch
  • Red Crossbill (Types 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10)
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • “Rocky Mountain” Pine Grosbeak
  • American Goldfinch
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Pine Siskin
  • Evening Grosbeak (Types 1 and 2)

 

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Length of Tour

7-Days/6-Nights

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Rogue Valley-Medford Airport. Intro to western finches and local birding for regional specialties! Night in Ashland, Oregon.

Day 2 – Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, northern Klamath Basin, and Crater Lake NP. July 4th celebrations and night in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Day 3 – Crater Lake NP, Winema National Forest. Night in Sisters, Oregon.

Day 4 – Deschutes National Forest. Night in Corvallis, Oregon.

Day 5 – Coastal birding from Newport to Cannon Beach. Night in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Day 6 – Haystack Rock, Fort Stevens, commute to Mount Rainier NP. Night in Packwood, Washington.

Day 7 – Mount Rainier NP and Naches Pass. Local birding around Seattle as time allows. Afternoon departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Rogue Valley-Medford Airport. Intro to western finches and local birding for regional specialties, July 4th celebrations! Night in Ashland, Oregon.

We suggest an early arrival to the Rogue Valley International Airport in Oregon so that we can maximize time spent birding on our first day. For the afternoon we will set out to hit some Rogue Valley hotspots and get acquainted with the bird community of southern Oregon. Finch targets right off the bat will include “Western” Purple Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, and House Finch. Rarely Lawrence’s Goldfinch may be found here. We will look for Wrentit, California Towhee, Acorn Woodpecker, Western Tanager, Black Phoebe, and California Scrub-Jay. We will spend the night in Ashland, Oregon. This small, vibrant town is nestled into the Siskiyou Mountains.

Day 2 – Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, northern Klamath Basin. Night in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

On our first full day we will head out early and climb winding roads up into the scenic Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Locally these mountains create the southern boundary of the Rogue Valley, but the Cascades are a major range of the Pacific Northwest and extend from British Columbia to northern California. As part of the “Ring of Fire”, the Cascades are famous for the many inactive volcanoes that make up its higher peaks. The western slopes of the Cascades receive substantial precipitation, but much of the range is dryer. Oak savannah persists in the lower elevations but are threatened by development and agriculture. Middle elevations are dominated by pine-oak forest, and in the higher areas coniferous forests are broken up by grassy meadows. Finch targets for the day include Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak Types 1 and 2, and Red Crossbill Type 2 and 5. Some simple audio-recording techniques will be covered the first few days of the trip as well.

Elusive Mountain Quail may be found along the edges of the forest roads, always quick to dart into dense cover. In fact, many gamebird species are found here including Sooty Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, and California Quail. A nice assortment of West Coast songbirds are common in the forests and fields and we will search for Black-headed Grosbeak, Townsend’s Solitaire, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed Towhee, Oak Titmouse, and Rufous Hummingbird. Band-tailed Pigeons may be perched in snaggy tips of massive trees and Golden Eagles are regularly seen soaring overhead. We will check narrow, rushing creeks for nesting American Dipper. In the afternoon we will skirt the northern edge of the Klamath Basin where Black-billed Magpie and Tricolored Blackbirds may be seen in grasslands and cattle pastures. A short drive up the dry, rocky cliffs along Modoc Rim (the eastern boundary of Upper Klamath Lake) can turn up Calliope Hummingbird and is a great place to watch for migrating raptors. In the evening we will enjoy July 4th celebrations this evening. Night in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Optional post-dinner excursion to try and *hear* Yellow Rails.

Day 3 – Crater Lake NP, Winema National Forest. Night in Sisters, Oregon.

We’ll be up early to explore Crater Lake National Park and greet the day standing at the rim of the crater. The panoramic views will be astonishing, and you will be entranced by the unbelievable blue color of the huge crater lake filling the imploded volcano’s cone. This lake is fed entirely by rain and snow-melt – there are no rivers or creeks running into it. A hike up a nearby rocky peak should result in finding “Hepburn’s” Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in addition to Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, and Clark’s Nutcracker! Yellow-bellied Marmots and American Pika may be encountered on the talus slopes!  Later in the morning we will take short hikes along various trails in the park. The birding should be rich, with many species caring for recently-fledged young. Nashville Warbler, “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Cassin’s Vireo are plentiful. Red-breasted Sapsuckers and many other woodpeckers fill the forests. Various butterflies and tiny Rufous Hummingbirds can be abundant in open meadows full of wildflowers! Curious Canada Jays offer close encounters! Listen for Evening Grosbeak Types 1 and 2, and Red Crossbill Types 2 and possibly 5 flying overhead. In the afternoon we will head northeast and visit picturesque Salt Creek Falls which is home to a small population of Black Swifts. Night in Sisters, Oregon. An optional nighttime excursion could result in finding Western Screech-Owl, Flammulated Owl, and Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Day 4 – Deschutes National Forest. Night in Corvallis, Oregon.

Another early morning will have us out exploring the mixed Ponderosa Pine/Douglas-fir forests of Dechutes National Forest. Here we plan to encounter Evening Grosbeak Type 1 and Red Crossbill Type 2, 4 and possibly 5. Small groups of Pygmy Nuthatches noisily move through the canopy and this area is famous for its woodpecker diversity, where we may encounter 10 different species including White-headed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and Pileated Woodpecker! After lunch we will head west to Corvallis and meet Oregon State University professor, Jaime Cornelius, to learn more about her Red Crossbill research and visit the university’s captive crossbill research program to see various Types up-close. Long-time finch researcher and FiRN board member, Tom Hahn, of UC Davis is likely joining us in Corvallis too! Night in Corvallis.

Day 5 – Coastal birding from Newport to Cannon Beach. Night in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

On our 5th day we will head straight toward the coast and spend the entire day weaving up Highway 101 along the seaside cliffs. This scenic drive offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and massive, iconic sea stacks dot the coastline. These huge rocks were formed by ancient lava flows and are now home to huge colonies of coastal birds like Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, and Tufted Puffin. If we are lucky, we could spot Rhinoceros Auklet or tiny Marbled Murrelets. Of course where there is ‘food’ there are lots of predators, and Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons hunt these seabird colonies for easy meals. Finch targets along the coast include “Western” Purple Finch and Red Crossbill Types 3, 10 and possibly 4. Post-breeding Harlequin Ducks gather in the turbulent waters along the coastline and Black Oystercatchers nest on rocky beaches. West Coast specialty cormorants – Brandt’s and Pelagic – can be found in good numbers. Heerman’s Gull, Western Gull, California Gull, and Glaucous-winged Gull are common. Seaside songbirds include Wilson’s Warbler, “Puget” White-crowned Sparrow, Swainson’s Thrush, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Hutton’s Vireo. “Pacific” Harbor Seals and both Steller’s and California Sea Lions are commonly seen. Tom Hahn and/or Jamie Cornelius are likely joining us in the field for this day as well! Night in Cannon Beach near Haystack Rock!

Day 6 – Haystack Rock, Fort Stevens, commute to Mount Rainier NP. Night in Packwood, Washington.

We will start off with a foggy early-morning walk down to Haystack Rock to see nesting Tufted Puffins and Common Murres. Cruising Del Rey Beach may turn up an endangered Snowy Plover. Our final stop along the coast will be to Fort Stevens State Park which may yield more Red Crossbill Type 10s. From there we will cross the Columbia River and depart for a lengthy drive toward Mount Rainier National Park in central Washington. This was the 5th national park to be established and preserves nearly 400 square miles of pristine wilderness in the northern Cascades. Mount Rainier itself rises up 14,411 feet and its glimmering snowfields and glaciers are visible from many miles away. A visit to White Pass should be very birdy and we have more opportunities for higher elevation specialties like Mountain Chickadee, American Pipit, Mountain Bluebird, and Hermit Thrush. Finch targets for our last full day include Red Crossbill Types 10, 3, and 4, plus Evening Grosbeak Type 1. Night in Packwood near Mount Rainier National Park.

Day 7 – Mount Rainier NP and Naches Pass. Local birding around Seattle as time allows. Afternoon departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

On our final morning we will visit picturesque subalpine meadows in Mount Rainier National Park and nearby Naches Pass in search of “Rocky Mountain” Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill Type 4, and rare White-winged Crossbills. Raucous Steller’s Jays, tiny Violet-green Swallow, and Vaux’s Swifts can be found in the surrounding forests. The range-restricted Hoary Marmot can be found on rocky slopes. Townsend’s and Black-throated Gray Warblers may be heard singing from treetops, and perhaps a Northern Goshawk will dart past! From there we will make our way downslope toward Seattle and may do some last-minute birding near the city for any targets we have missed. Please plan for late afternoon or evening departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Cost

Cost is $2,400 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Medford, Oregon (Airport code MFR).
This trip ends in Seattle, Washington (Airport code SEA).

Cost Includes

Cost includes accommodations, entrance fees, and services of your professional leader(s).

Cost does not Include

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary. Tips for our guides are appreciated.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $780 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Six nights accommodations in standard motels, ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support local establishments that implement eco-friendly practices.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Walks will be on mostly flat terrain, but please prepare for a few high-elevation hikes at a slow pace and on fairly level trails. This tour has some late nights and all early mornings!

Recommended Field Guide

Sibley Birds West (2nd Edition, 2016, Knopf)
by David Allen Sibley

Sibley Birds is also available as an App for iPhone and Android.

 

Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

This is a brand new partnership tour with Matt Young from the Finch Research Network. Please check back soon for a trip report from our 2021 adventure!

Location Map