Tagged: Crown Z Trail

Site Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)

Site Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)

This is the sixteenth installment of the “Site Guide”. It is the first of the sites that are found in the Coast Range of Columbia County.
This guide will be published in a series of installments:

Overview of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Habitats of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Birds of Columbia County – Overview (5/9/14 post)
Birding Sites of Columbia County – Individual installments, and associated Bird Lists of the Sites in Columbia County:
Introduction (5/12/14 post)

Columbia River Sites – South to North
Sauvie Island (5/12/14 post)
Scappoose WTP and Kessi Pond (5/14/14 post)
Crown Zellerbach Trail – East End (5/15/14 post)
Scappoose Bottoms (5/19/14 post)
Scappoose Bay (5/29/14 post)
St. Helens WTP and Knob Hill Park (5/30/14 post)
Gray Cliffs Waterfront Park and Dalton Lake (6/1/14 post)
Dalton Lake Trail, Columbia City, Dyno Nobel, Nicolai Wetlands, Gobel Marina (6/17/14 post)
Trojan Park, Carr Slough, Prescott Beach, Laurel Beach CP (6/22/14 post)
Rainier Waterfront, Dibblee Point, Rainier Dike Rd (6/24/14 post)
Erickson Dike Rd, John’s Slough (6/25/14 post)
Marshland Drainage District (6/27/14 post)

Coast Range Birding Sites
Pisgah Home Rd, Crown Zellerbach Trail (West), Bonnie Falls (7/1/14 post)

(A link to a downloadable copy of this guide is found in the first installment of this series)
Here is a map of all the locations mentioned in this guide.

Pisgah Home Rd (PL) – 45 species, 3 (6/27/14)
Location/Directions: (45.790581, -122.911799) Along the Scappoose/Vernonia Hwy, 2.5 miles from Hwy 30 take a left on Siercks Rd. Just over a half a mile from S/V Hwy take a left onto Pisgah Home Rd and drive to the top of the hill where it meets Holladay Rd. Continue a short way past this and park opposite Grouse Lane where the pavement ends. Pisgah Home continues as a gravel road/jeep track. Longview Fiber has two gated access points in the area; one along Pisgah Home Rd on the north side of the road (about 1.5 miles up the road) and one a little ways down Holladay. Both are worth a short hike as well.

Habitat and Birds: The trip up starts at Scappoose Creek but is already forested. Just at the start, on the right, there is an old quarry that Belted Kingfishers burrow nest in the face of the cut, at the top where the soil is. (2013,2014) The elevation gain on the trip up is usually enough to bring in some elevational species like Ravens, Red Crossbills, Hairy Woodpeckers, Hermit Warblers, Evening Grosbeaks and Band-tailed Pigeons. At the top there is a regenerating clearcut down slope and an open farmed hill upslope. I usually walk down the gravel road a mile or two through mixed stage coast range forest. High clearance vehilcle could probably drive down the road. Mountain Quail and a Townsend’s Solitaire have been reported from this area.

Pisgah Home Rd.(PL) – 48 species, 4 (6/28/14)

Cackling Goose Turkey Vulture Red-tailed Hawk
Band-tailed Pigeon Mourning Dove Rufous Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher Hairy Woodpecker Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee Willow Flycatcher Hammond’s Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo Steller’s Jay American Crow
Common Raven Violet-green Swallow Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee Chestnut-backed Chickadee Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper House Wren Pacific Wren
Bewick’s Wren Ruby-crowned Kinglet Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin European Starling Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler MacGillivray’s Warbler Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-rumped Warbler Black-throated Gray Warbler Hermit Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler Spotted Towhee Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco Western Tanager
Black-headed Grosbeak Brown-headed Cowbird Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin American Goldfinch Evening Grosbeak


Bonnie Falls:
Location/Directions: (45.80429, -122.93734) 4.1 miles west of Hwy 30 along the Scappoose – Vernonia Hwy. There is a pull off on the south side of the road. There is not much here, but County listers will want to make the stop for the American Dippers that have been seen here (2011 – 2013). Woodland birds are also possible. A small patch list has been generated.


Crown Zellerbach Trail – West, Hale Rd. Access:
Location/Directions: (45.82573, -122.95819) About 6.2 miles west of Hwy 30 along the Scappoose – Vernonia Hwy. There is a parking area on Hale Rd. next to the trail, but do not block the yellow gate. Trail heads in both directions but only the section to the east has been explored at this time.

Habitat and Birds: Woodland and riparian birds along an easy paved path with some elevational influence. This is the second place that I know of where American Dipper has been found in the County. This is a very productive short stretch of the trail.

Crown Zellerbach Trail – West, Hale Rd. Access (PL) – 15 species, 1 (5/10/14)
Current list is from one half an hour stop.

Belted Kingfisher Hairy Woodpecker Steller’s Jay
American Crow Violet-green Swallow Black-capped Chickadee
Chestnut-backed Chickadee American Dipper Pacific Wren
Swainson’s Thrush American Robin European Starling
Black-throated Gray Warbler Wilson’s Warbler Song Sparrow
Black-headed Grosbeak


Field Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)

This is the sixth installment of the “Field Guide”.  It is an account of one of the three sites found in proximity to the town of Scappoose – the Crown Zellerbach Trail.

This guide will be published in a series of installments:
Overview of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Habitats of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Birds of Columbia County – Overview (5/9/14 post)
Birding Sites of Columbia County – Individual installments, and associated Bird Lists of the Sites in Columbia County:
Introduction (5/12/14 post)

Columbia River Sites – South to North
Sauvie Island (5/12/14 post)
Scappoose WTP and Kessi Pond (5/14/14 post)
Crown Zellerbach Trail – East End (5/15/14 post)

(A link to a downloadable copy of this guide is found in the first installment of this series)

Columbia River Birding Areas

3) Crown Zellerbach Trail – East End (OBT):

Location/Directions: (45.75407, -122.85001) A large parking area is another 0.7 miles from the WTP along Columbia Ave.  Parking is on the east side of the road. The trail can also be accessed from the west end off of W. Lane Rd., or in the middle at the end of Miller Rd which is a road off of Columbia.  Here is an interpretive map.

Habitat and Birds: From the Columbia Ave parking area the trail goes both east to the Multnomah Channel and west past some wetlands. The flooded fields and ponds hold Ducks, Geese and Swans; Polygynum bogs host American Bittern, Virginia Rails, and Sora; raptors cruise the fields and use the trees for roosting, Red-shouldered and Rough-legged Hawks in winter, and Northern Harrier, Red-tails, Bald Eagles and nesting Osprey all occur here. There are good Woodpecker habitats along the trail and Piliated are common. At the east end, overlooking the Channel, a Great Blue Heron rookery has been established on Sauvie Island (2012-2014), the Osprey have a platform, and Purple Martins use the old dock pylons as nesting sites. At the far west end around West Lane Rd there is a stand of Douglas Fir that will have a touch of variety for your list. A Brambling was seen along the trail in 2011. Overall this is a very productive couple of miles of trail.  Rarities include: Golden Eagle, Townsend’s Solitaire, Black Phoebe, Whimbrel and American Tree Sparrow.

3) Crown Zellerbach Trail – East End (eHS) – 145 species (5/12/14)

Greater White-fronted Goose Snow Goose Cackling Goose
Canada Goose Tundra Swan Wood Duck
Gadwall Eurasian Wigeon American Wigeon
Mallard Cinnamon Teal Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail Green-winged Teal Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck Lesser Scaup Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye Hooded Merganser Common Merganser
California Quail Ring-necked Pheasant Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe Double-crested Cormorant American White Pelican
American Bittern Great Blue Heron Great Egret
Green Heron Turkey Vulture Osprey
Golden Eagle Northern Harrier Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk Bald Eagle Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk Rough-legged Hawk Virginia Rail
Sora American Coot Sandhill Crane
Killdeer Spotted Sandpiper Greater Yellowlegs
Whimbrel Dunlin Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher Wilson’s Snipe Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull Western Gull California Gull
Herring Gull Glaucous-winged Gull Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon Eurasian Collared-Dove Mourning Dove
Barn Owl Western Screech-owl Great Horned
Vaux’s Swift Anna’s Hummingbird Rufous Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher Red-breasted Sapsucker Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker Northern Flicker Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel Merlin Peregrine Falcon
Olive-sided Flycatcher Western Wood-Pewee Willow Flycatcher
Black Phoebe Northern Shrike Warbling Vireo
Steller’s Jay Western Scrub-Jay American Crow
Common Raven Northern Rough-winged Swallow Purple Martin
Tree Swallow Violet-green Swallow Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow Black-capped Chickadee Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bushtit Red-breasted Nuthatch White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper House Wren Pacific Wren
Marsh Wren Bewick’s Wren Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Townsend’s Solitaire Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush American Robin Varied Thrush
European Starling American Pipit Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler Common Yellowthroat Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler Townsend’s Warbler Wilson’s Warbler
Spotted Towhee American Tree Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow Song Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow White-crowned Sparrow Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco Western Tanager Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Western Meadowlark
Brewer’s Blackbird Brown-headed Cowbird Bullock’s Oriole
House Finch Purple Finch Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch American Goldfinch Evening Grosbeak
House Sparrow


Field Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)

This is the second installment of the “Field Guide”.  It is an overview of the birds that have been recorded in the County.

This guide will be published in a series of installments:
Overview of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Habitats of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Birds of Columbia County – Overview (5/9/14 post)
Birding Sites of Columbia County – Individual installments, and associated:
Bird Lists of the Sites in Columbia County

(A link to a downloadable copy of this guide is found in the first installment of this sereis)

Birds of Columbia County (as of 09 May 2014):

According to the East Cascades Audubon Society (ECAS) 324 species of birds have been recorded in Columbia County. Here (.pdf) is a link to the ECAS checklist for the County. Here is a descriptive guide to the county maintained by ECAS. It uses large portions of this guide as a reference.

eBird has 230 recorded species.

Oregon Birding Trails has a Trail and Site Guide (pdf) that covers parts of Columbia County. It is in the Willamette Valley section under the Columbia Loop Guide. The Guide has specie accounts but no count totals as it is not County specific.


Included in these lists (combined) are 69 rarities (or just difficult birds to find) for the County which should not be expected to be seen:

Ross’s Goose Emperor Goose Brant
White-winged Scoter Surf Scoter Red-breasted Merganser
Mountain Quail Red-throated Loon Red-necked Grebe
Clark’s Grebe Leach’s Storm-Petrel Brown Pelican
Snowy Egret Cattle Egret White-tailed Kite
Northern Goshawk Swainson’s Hawk Ferruginous Hawk
Golden Eagle Gyrfalcon Common Moorhen
Pacific Golden-Plover Semipalmated Sandpiper Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet Marbled Godwit Sanderling
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Black Turnstone Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red Phalarope Franklin’s Gull Heerman’s Gull
Sabine’s Gull Black-legged Kittywake Common Tern
White-winged Dove Snowy Owl Spotted Owl
Barred Owl Black Swift Calliope Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker Red-naped Sapsucker Black Pheobe
Tropical Kingbird Eastern Kingbird Loggerhead Shrike
Red-eyed Vireo Black-billed Magpie Bank Swallow
Rock Wren Mountain Bluebird Wrentit
Northern Mockingbird Bohemian Waxwing Palm Warbler
American Tree Sparrow Clay-colored Sparrow Brewer’s Sparrow
Lark Sparrow Black-throated Sparrow Swamp Sparrow
Harris’s Sparrow Lapland Longspur Indigo Bunting
Bobolink Yellow-headed Blackbird Brambling


County Phenology:

An accounting of the phenology for migrating birds in the County is beyond the scope of this guide. However, it is possible to get a reasonably accurate sense of arrival and departure dates by looking up the County list on eBird. There one will find each of the 230 birds that are recorded for Columbia County in eBird. The occurrence of each species is shown for each week of the year. It is a very intuitive set of charts and a birder interested in birding the County will benefit from this data. This data set should be referenced for the dates specific birds are present before heading out to look for a target bird from a list.

Here is a data based accounting of Northern Willamette Valley Phenology. And here is a narrative based account for spring arrivals for the Willamette Valley in general. And this link will take you to a few calendar based accountings.

Site Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)

This guide will be published in a series of installments:
Overview of Columbia County
Habitats of Columbia County
Birds of Columbia County – Overview
Birding Sites of Columbia County – Individual installments, and associated:
Bird Lists of the Sites in Columbia County

This Guide is a work in progress. The current Guide will always be up to date at the download location found below. This web based version may or may not be updated.

A lot of the information for this Guide was collected from around the web.  I have provided attributed  links so the source information can be referenced directly.  Any errors in transcription are those of the author as are any additions that do not match the source material exactly.  If the reader is so inclined; broken links, errors, or general comments can be sent via the Contact page or in the “Comments” of individual posts.

Large portions of this guide are currently being incorporated into the “Birding Oregon” guide to “Birding Sites in Oregon”  maintained by the East Cascades Audubon Society.


Site Guide for Birding Columbia County – last edited: 10/13/14

(Here is a link to a downloadable copy of this Field Guide)


Columbia County is bordered on the north and east by the Columbia River, on the south by Multnomah County and Washington County, and on the west by Clatsop County. The southern County line is approximately 30 minutes from Portland, the largest metropolitan area in Oregon. The western County line is approximately 30 minutes from the Pacific coast.

The County’s northern and eastern boundaries are outlined by 62 miles of Columbia River shoreline. Columbia County enjoys the longest stretch of the Columbia River in the State of Oregon. The Columbia River is a major route of ocean-going vessels and is a popular fishing ground, as well as a popular boating and windsurfing river.

The County offers the only two marine parks in Oregon: Sand Island on the Columbia River and J.J. Collins Memorial Marine Park on the Multnomah Channel. This is known locally as Coon Island.

(Source: ColumbiaCounty.or.us)


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 688 square miles (1,781.9 km2), of which 657 square miles (1,701.6 km2) is land and 32 square miles (82.9 km2) (4.59%) is water. The vast majority of this is in managed coast range forest with limited accessibility.

Habitats of Columbia County

There are three EPA Level IV designated ecoregions in the county:

Level IV: (1d) Coast Range Volcanics

The Volcanics ecoregion consists of steeply sloping mountains and capes underlain by fractured basaltic rocks. Elevation generally varies from 600 to 4100 feet (180 to 1250 m), although in some places the volcanic rock extends down to sea level. The region is marked by columnar and pillow basalt outcrops. Its mountains may have been offshore seamounts engulfed by continental sediments about 200 million years ago. High gradient, cascading streams and rivers occur, and the basaltic substrate preserves summer flows that are more consistent than streams on the sedimentary rocks in surrounding ecoregions.

The streams still support runs of spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead. The region’s Douglas-fir plantations are heavily logged. Mature forests consist of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, salal, sword fern, vine maple, Oregon grape, and rhododendron. Wetter slopes and riparian areas may support western red cedar, big leaf maple, red alder, salmonberry, and oxalis. Grassy coastal headlands and mountaintop balds feature Roemer’s fescue, thin bentgrass, California oatgrass, and diverse forbs.

Level IV: (1f) Willapa Hills

The Willapa Hills ecoregion (named for the Willapa Hills) consists of low, rolling hills and low, gently sloping mountains with medium gradient streams and rivers. It rises to an elevation of approximately 1,300 feet (396 m).

This region has a lower drainage density than other upland areas in the Coast Range. Logging is relatively easy and less expensive in this accessible terrain, and industrial timberland has almost completely replaced the historic forests. When disturbed, the silt- and clay-textured soils are easily eroded, thereby degrading stream quality.

The vegetation consists of Douglas-fir and western hemlock forests, with sword fern, vine maple, salal, Oregon grape, and rhododendron shrub layer. Wetter slopes and riparian areas support red alder, western red cedar, big leaf maple, salmonberry, and oxalis. Large herds of Roosevelt elk winter in the region.


Level IV: (3a) Portland/Vancouver Basin

The Portland/Vancouver Basin ecoregion (named for the cities of Portland and Vancouver) is a geological depression at the base of the Portland Hills fault-block. The region covers 305 square miles (790 km2) in Washington and 269 square miles (697 km2) in Oregon, including the northern and eastern suburbs of the Portland metropolitan area. It contains the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and is composed of deltaic sands and gravels deposited by Pleistocene floods, notably the Missoula Floods. Elevation varies from 0 to 300 feet (0 to 90 m), with buttes as high as 650 feet (200 m).

Historically, the basin was characterized by Oregon white oak groves and Douglas-fir forests on the uplands; black cottonwood groves on riverbanks and islands; Oregon ash, red alder, and western red cedar in riparian areas; and prairie openings maintained by Native American burning, with camas, sedges, tufted hairgrass, fescue, and California oatgrass. Numerous wetlands, oxbow lakes, and ponds can still be found, but today the region is dominated by urban and suburban development, pastures, cropland, and tree farms.

The climate is usually marine-influenced, but easterly winds from the Columbia River Gorge periodically bring continental temperature extremes. It contains several National Wildlife Refuges within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex.[2][3]


That’s the big picture.  From a birder’s perspective there are basically four major habitats: 1) the Columbia River, 2) lowland basins bordering the river, 3) the hills of the Coast Range and 4) urban and rural residential areas.

The Columbia River is essentially monotypic, but not quite.  There are numerous islands, sheltered coves and inlets that break up the flow, offer some measure of protection and vary the habitat a bit.  It is on the Columbia where the best chances of finding divers and stray gulls will be found.

The lowland basins bordering the Columbia offer the largest diversity of habitat, and on Sauvie Island the only terrestrially accessible area managed for wildlife.  There are three separate basins along the Columbia. The first is the Portland/Vancouver basin which goes as far north as St. Helens and south to the southern border of the County on Sauvie Island.  The second is the Rainier Basin which is an alluvial plain of the Columbia piled up against rapidly ascending Willapa Hills.  And third is the Clatskanie basin including the Marshland Drainage District which is a large pocket of lowland around the Clatskanie River and is flood controlled by a series of dikes.  One could arguably call the Trojan lowlands a fourth.  It is within these lowlands, bordering the Columbia, that the greatest diversity of birds will be found in the County.

The hills of the Coast Range, while not completely monotypic, it’s darn close.  The Nehalem River and it’s tributaries cuts a riparian zone through the hills, there are a few agricultural stretches on suitable land, mostly lying along major creeks like Milton Creek, and a few lakes here and there.  But the vast majority of this land is held privately and is managed for timber.  There are numerous gravel roads throughout and most timber lands allow walk-in access.  It is in the hills where the elevational birds like grouse, Hermit Warblers, and Red Crossbills will be most easily found.

The urban and rural residential areas are not specifically covered in this guide, aside from a few parks. But the towns of Scappoose, St. Helens, Columbia City, Rainier, and Clatskanie all have potential to be additive to a day in the field.

Columbia County Early September

A weekend along the Columbia and the roads less birded.  Saturday on the Crown Z trail and Scappoose Water Works.  Sunday on Sauvie Island, visiting Oak Island and Steelman Rd.

An out of place Brewer’s Sparrow along the Oak Island access road, a Red Shouldered Hawk, FOS Golden-crowned Sparrow, an exposed American Bittern, and calling Virginia Rails on the Crown Z trail were my highlights.

Level IV: 3a Portland/Vancouver Basin
Sauvie Island eBird Report
Crown Z Report
Scappoose WW Report

Crown Z. Trail


Level IV (3a) Portland/Vancouver Basin

Columbia County, Early June Photo Essay

Crown Z Trail and Scappoose highlands.

Level IV: 3a Portland/Vancouver Basin

Level IV: 1d Coast Range Volcanics

American Bittern

One of the most reliable local places that i know of to actually SEE American Bittern is the Crown Zellerbach Trail in Scappoose in the spring. It is not uncommon to see one to three individuals haunting the Polygonum bogs along the trail.

Below is an insane amount of pictures taken of Bitterns this spring.  Geesh, when they just stand there it’s hard to stop snapping pictures!

Scappose Bottoms – November 2012

I made the Columbia/Honeyman loop a couple of times this month; once in the pouring rain so i just hung out out at the Crown Z trail head instead of walking down the trail, and once in a glorious November break in the weather. The trail, despite the foot traffic, is one of my favorite strolls in the county.  It rivals Rentenaar Rd for winter sparrows and is probably birded far less.  Not to mention i’m just nine birds short of the patch century mark now that i added eight new species this month: Tundra Swan flyover, Northern Shrike, Buffleheads, Brown Creeper, Western Gull, Pacific Wren, Varied Thrush and a flyover Double-crested Cormorant.

Out in the bottom lands i added another two species: a Common Goldeneye in the Ellis Channel, and a covey of California Quail, bringing that patch up to 108.  The Rough-legged Hawk was hunting the north end of the Ellis’s ranch as usual, but at scope distance so only marginal pictures were obtained.  And, with the low light, the shutter speed was too slow for blur-free flight shots.

Level IV: (3a) Portland/Vancouver Basin

eBird Reports:

11 November
Scappoose Water Works
Crown Z. Trail
Scappoose Bottoms

23 November
Scappoose Water Works
Crown Z. Trail
Scappoose Bottoms