Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 91 of 95

Birding Oregon's Big Country 90 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 road north along the east side of Steens Mountain through the Alvord Desert and then return to Burns via Oregon Highway 78, but the natural beauty of this route cannot be overstated. All told, the loop from Frenchglen to Fields and back to Burns is about 170 miles, cover- ing some of the least-traveled and most- scenic roads in Oregon. Popular destinations east of the High- way 205 corridor include the small set - tlement of Diamond (pop. 5), the near- by Diamond Craters, and the famous round barn designed by 19th-century cattle baron Pete French. The Double O Road (milepost 21 on Highway 205) runs west for about 18 miles along the dunes that border the north shore of Harney Lake, ending up at Double O Station, before turning north and even- tually connecting with U.S. Highway 20 west of Burns. The former Double O Ranch property is now the westernmost outpost of the refuge. Wonderful cattail marshes surround Double O Station. It's impossible to present the full array of Harney County's birding and sight- seeing opportunities in a single article. While spring and summer are best for birding, a late-summer/early-fall visit af - fords the chance to drive all the way to the top of Steens Mountain. The poten - tial for seeing Black Rosy-Finches, gor- geous wildflowers, and stunning glacial gorges are worth every inch of the teeth- rattling drive to the summit. Steens Mountain Loop Road is rutted and heavily washboarded, so good tires and substantial ground clearance are recom- mended. Plan to spend at least half a day driving up to the summit and back. The road to the summit is rarely open before July and not until August some years. Harney County is inconveniently lo- cated. Boise and Portland are the most proximal airports, three and six hours away, respectively. Motels in Burns/ Hines include several affiliated with na- tional chains. The historic Frenchglen Hotel and the Hotel Diamond (in Diamond) offer quaint bed-and-break- fast-type experiences, plus to-order lunches and evening meals served family style. Call well in advance if you hope to get a May–September reservation. The Malheur Field Station—off Sodhouse Road between The Narrows and refuge n Long-billed Curlew. Photo © Mick Thompson n Harney County is certainly birder-friendly. Photo © Daniel C. Barton n Pronghorn grazing on sagebrush. Photo © Daniel C. Barton Continued on page 92

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