jack williamson | Trout Creek Recreational Area

Trout Creek Recreational Area

May 30, 2016  •  4 Comments

The Trout Creek Recreational Area in central Oregon is perhaps best known for its enormous basalt columns which make it Oregon's premier destination for pure crack climbs, and less so for the GOLDEN EAGLES that nest there.  We decided to see the place for ourselves this year after we read the Bureau of Land Management reduced the size of the seasonal wildlife closure area on May 11th.

As you can see from the map below, the area is not a birding hot spot.  In fact, you won't find a single eBird report of observations from within the area.  Something I will change after this post :-)

Most years, everything to the right of the hiking trail is off limits to all use from January 15 through August 31 to protect the Golden Eagle nests from disturbance.  But this year, the nest on the south side of the main climbing wall was inactive, so the BLM reduced the size of the protected area to what is roughly outlined in red below.  The hike from the trailhead to Frog Springs Campground is 2.4 miles (one way).

The sign pointing the way from the unincorporated community of Gateway.

The trailhead:

A Yellow Warbler, and a pair of adult Bullock's Oriole greeted us at the start of our walk.

Main Climbing Wall:

We noticed a Black-billed Magpie fly into the tree below at about the 15 minute mark into our walk:

We were then plesantly surprised to find four nestlings sitting outside what looks like a predator-proof fortress.  

Wildflowers below the magpie nest:

Western Kingbird Nest:  Strange as it might sound, we found a first year male Bullock's Oriole persistently engaging with one of the Western Kingbird near the nest.

We found multiple Rock and Canyon Wren as we approached Frog Springs Campground:

The area above Frog Springs Campground that was still subject to the seasonal wildlife closure:

Closely cropped pictures of two nesting sites that appeared inactive:

The only Golden Eagle for the day was a couple of high-flyovers of two different birds:

We enjoyed watching the crowd of crack climbers, and a few additional birds, on our way out of the area:

Lazuli Bunting -

My first thought was gnatcatcher, but the (tail) coloring is wrong - I would love to hear what you think:  An Osprey nest that looked like it had an antler sticking out of the top of it -

And close views of a Swainson's Hawk with prey as we were pulling out of the canyon:

The map that got this trip started

Our eBird record of birds observed in the area



Betty U(non-registered)
Thank you for the wonderful photos of the birds and countryside.
Martin Jaqua(non-registered)
Thanks for sharing the location and photos. On closer inspection, though, it looks like the Osprey nest has not only a set of mule deer antlers but the top of the skull as well. The question is whether there was meat attached to it when brought to the nest, or whether it was instead bare of edible portins and viewed solely as "art" work for the nest.
Bob Archer(non-registered)
Great report, thanks for birding a new area and sharing what you found.
Douglas Robinson(non-registered)
Great photos, Jack! Looks like your mystery bird is a Bushtit. All the best,
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