Bet you didn't know about that, did you? Well it was, or is. Every second Saturday of May, apparently, is IMB day. And Portland Celebrates it at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and Selwood Park.
Basically this is a great thing to do with your kids, or your inner kid if you've ever thought about getting into birds at all. Really it's quite cool. Trained naturalists from US Fish and Wildlife will take you on tours of the Bottom for about an hour, telling you about the many birds that you can see and hear. Ours brought a giant scope so we could see some of them closer up, and some things we would never have seen on our own. The kids enjoyed this part.
On our short tour, we heard many birds like songbirds and finches, but saw many more types, such as Mallard and Wood ducks, Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys, a Green Heron, and my personal favorite: Red Winged Blackbirds. We also spotted a turtle of unknown species (the naturalists didn't have time to scope it) resting on a log before dropping into the water. We were told that there are snapping turtles there as well.
Funny thing was, the wildest sounding animals in the park were the screaming 14 year olds on the roller coaster over at Oaks Park. The wetland is right next to Portland's one and only permanent amusement park, but it doesn't seem to bother the birds all that much. Just those of us trying to listen for the birds.
Once back up in Selwood park, there were many booths where the kids could do stuff like paint a bird, match clawed feet up with the bird species, take apart and examine owl pellets for the bones of some small rodent (popular tent), make an old fashioned pine-cone and peanut butter bird feeder, and actually make a bird house. That last one was the most popular, as the festival provided pre-cut boards, hammers and nails and showed the kids how to do it right there.
The Audubon Society were there showing off a couple of their birds. A peregrine Falcon and a Spotted Owl.
As a part of my continued mission to blogging Oregon's open spaces, I found this a worthy candidate. Portland has many unique parks, and if you're a bird watcher there's probably no better place to bring out and dust off the old binoculars than Oaks Bottom. There's a good long trail that you can start either at the top in Selwood park, or drive down to Oaks Park itself and instead of becoming one of the screaming masses in the amusement park, you can walk under the old railroad tracks and walk around the lake and marshes.