From high desert to sub-alpine, Central Oregon hosts a wide range of ecosystems making it one of the best places in the state to spot a diverse range of birds, even in the middle of winter. With snow levels unseasonably low, many of the best birding spots in the region are easily accessible.
Just under 50 miles east of town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but still within the Greater Bend Metropolitan Area, lies the ruinous town of Brothers. At mile 42.8 stands the Brothers Oasis, the fanciest named rest stop in all the land. The facility isn't much, but it's an optimal place to park and check out a number of wintering raptors. Species frequently seen here include Prairie Falcons, Rough Legged and Red Tailed Hawks.
Camp Polk Meadow
Roughly 25 miles from Bend, near Sisters, Deschutes Land Trust has worked since 2000 to restore and preserve this prime fish and wildlife habitat. The perennial flow of Whychus Creek, surrounding wetlands, aspen-ringed meadows, and mighty Ponderosas ensure year-round winged inhabitants here. A wide variety of species have been reported throughout the winter. For a complete bird list and detailed directions to the preserve, visit Deschutes Land Trust website. www.deschuteslandtrust.org
Thirty miles to the north, just beyond Terrebonne, Lower Bridge Road leads to a small steel bridge over the Deschutes. To the east of the bridge you'll find a parking turnout and a trail along the river which is reportedly the single best place in the county to find black-capped chickadees throughout the winter. This is also a fine place to spot many species of swifts, sparrows, and swallows.