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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Oregon in Spring

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-US citizens need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: Most mornings will start around 6:00 a.m. (a few will start earlier) and we bird most days through lunch until mid-afternoon. Every day we’ll schedule one to two hours off at the hotel before dinner, some days even a bit more, and on a couple long days we’ll head almost directly to dinner. On a few evenings we plan on optional owling after dinner (where having a small flashlight or headlamp will be necessary).

Our longest walks may be two miles round trip. One walk we may do depending on weather is a road that is almostly continually up to the top at Marys Peak at 4100 feet elevation; it is less than ½ mile each way, and a nice road (though closed to public traffic), but a walking stick would be useful. Most walking is done on roads and trails, although there will be some over uneven ground and possibly in marshy/dewy grass. Some days, especially travel days, we do more birding stops just outside the van. Sturdy footgear, waterproof if possible, is important, and a hiking stick is recommended for anyone with balance problems or weak knees. One should be prepared for long periods of standing and walking slowly, and a small travel stool is handy for those who find this tiring.

HEALTH: Oregon presents no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher. 

Insects: We will be in Oregon largely before the mosquito season, which if early can be a nuisance at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge but essentially never a problem west of the Cascades or high in the mountains. The leader will have enough repellent for all if it seems necessary. 

Elevation: Some of our birding is at elevations of 5000 to 7000 feet, and while we do not schedule anything even faintly strenuous at these elevations, anyone with a history of cardiovascular or respiratory problems should be aware of the altitudinal stress. Please consult your physician. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: We actively look for reptiles, but the one species poisonous snake in Oregon is very seldom seen this early in the year. 

High-elevation sun can be intense, making a broad-brimmed hat, proper clothing and a strong sun block lotion essential. 

CLIMATE: Since we will be ranging from sea level on the humid coast to more than 7000 feet in the very dry rain shadow of the Cascades, we’ll experience a wide range of temperatures. Rain is likely on no more than a few days during this time of year, but one must always be prepared for the unexpected, including very cold and very hot temperatures. Even when it is hot inland (a heat wave can bring it to the upper 90’s °F), it can be quite cool, foggy and breezy on the outer coast, with high temperatures in the upper 50’s °F, and early mornings east of the Cascade mountains can even dip into the low 30’s (near freezing.)  Since we may experience wide ranges of temperatures on the tour, be prepared with clothing for both cool and hot weather.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will stay at standard, comfortable motels and/or lodges throughout the tour. Two of our hotels have indoor swimming pools; all have wireless internet and laundry facilities. 

FOOD: We’ll have three picnic breakfasts during the first part of the tour; otherwise early breakfasts are provided by our accommodation. Nearly all lunches are delicious and varied picnics in the field. Dinners are mostly in nice, often excellent restaurants with a good selection of seafood and traditional meals, though menus are more conservative in the smaller towns of eastern Oregon.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

Water: Tap water is potable throughout. Fresh water will be available in the van throughout the tour. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by 15- (or 12) passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader. Some roads may be quite bumpy and/or winding; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles and are expected to change seats with others daily.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Scenery and memory shots will be plentiful and simple to obtain, but birds are difficult to photograph. This is undeniably a birdwatching tour, and all participants are expected to have binoculars and use them as their primary means of enjoying birds; Although there will be occasions when bird photography is possible, a birdwatching tour is not normally the best means of pursuing this aim, as excellent views of birds and further needs of the group don’t necessarily translate to the time needed for that perfect shot. Digiscoping, on the other hand, is perfectly compatible with the tour, though you must bring your own telescope; the leader’s scope will not be available for this purpose. Bring as many memory cards as you think you will use, as it may be difficult to find precisely what you need on short notice. Camera equipment should be packed in moisture- and dust-proof bags as a precaution.

Updated: 31 January 2024