This refuge is located about 20 minutes north of Portland, but in the state of Washington.  When I first started going to the refuge about 18 years ago there was plenty of farm land nearby, and the city of Ridgefield.  Now many of those farm fields are housing developments with more being built everyday.  Sad to see so much of our farm land now developed into housing or vineyards.  Personally I think we need food more than wine.

The approximately 5,300 acre Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1965 to provide wintering habitat for the dusky subspecies of the Canada goose.   I must confess I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the dusky subspecies at the refuge and I visited this refuge a lot when we lived in Oregon.


We only visited the River ‘S’ Unit.


Bridge onto the refuge lands

The refuge has a nice auto route taking you by a number of lakes and a slough.  We saw 27 different species during our tour of the refuge, including several Sandhill Cranes – these are not our cranes (Alaska Pacific Flyway cranes, that is).  I did think we would see more species.  During previous visits to the refuge we’ve gotten almost twice this many species.  But we were still happy to see as many birds as we did.  The real treat of the trip was the Red-shouldered Hawk.  I’ve seen the hawk here before, but only once or twice.


One of many ponds favored by ducks. Not many on the pond, but if someone was coming after me with a gun I don’t think I would stick around either. Tis hunting season on the refuge.


This Great Blue Heron had caught and ate a small rodent moments before this photos was taken.  The bulge in its throat is the rodent.


Male Gadwall …


… in a slough covered in duck weed




Mushrooms anyone?  Of course I don’t know if these are poisonous or edible.


Pied-billed Grebe – my favorite North American grebe species


Pied-billed Grebe



Sometimes you feel like a coot or three


American Coots


Female duck – so okay which one? I’m thinking female Gadwall.  Any other guesses?


It is with Great Egret that our tour comes to an end.  Sorry I couldn’t resist.  I can hear the groans now from several friends.

The day was pleasant – partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures, and relatively calm.  A great day to be on the refuge.  And it was busy with birders and non-birders driving the auto tour route, and with hunters.  We were surprised to actually see the hunters and to hear gunshot sounding very close – scary.  In all the times I’ve visited here – and I’ve gone to this refuge during hunting season in previous years – I’ve never actually seen people hunting on the refuge within full view of people on the auto tour route.  A little disconcerting.

Bird Species Seen or Heard at Ridgefield National Wildlife

  • Great Blue Heron
  • American Coot
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Canada Goose
  • Red-tailed Hawak
  • Northern Harrier
  • American Wigeon
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Mallard
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Great Egret
  • American Kestrel
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Pacific Scrub Jay
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • Lesser Yellowleg
  • Northern Pintail
  • Eurasian Starling
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Bufflehead
  • Hummingbird sp. (Anna’s or Rufous

It was definitely ‘A GREAT DAY TO BIRD’