Birding is an enjoyable activity that's a little like mystery solving and trivia combined. It's an observation game where your past experience advantages your ability to sense a greater word around you. Besides the fact they fly, it’s a joy to study some of the most beautiful forms and sounds in nature. Once you step into their world, all those familiar sights and sounds will expand yours.

Because birds share much of their space with us, birding is something most people already engage in, at least a casually. Most children know a Robin by age six. Many adults know the names of common birds in their area. The fun for those more driven 'birders' is finding and identifying a completely unfamiliar species.

The best part about this is that all it really only requires is a decent set of binoculars and maybe a field guide (an internet connection will do). Your willingness to enter this fascinating, beautiful world helps and you’ll find your interest grows with each new bird you identify. As you become familiar with each bird’s song, you might find that even the binoculars become unnecessary.

The guide below will get you started on some of the birds that are common to our area. It's by no means comprehensive, but these are the ones that you'll probably see first (and maybe already know). The links will take you to a larger image with a link to the Cornell Labs excellent website: allaboutbirds.org where you can find out more, including audio.

American Coot

This common waterbird looks like a duck and swims like a duck, but is not a duck! It's a member of the rail family and has lobbed, instead of webbed feet. About 15" in length.

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Bald Eagle

Wallowa Lake now has two nesting pairs of eagles, including one that's very visible along the south shore. This large and sturdy bird dives, talons first, for fish along the surface. Eagles compete and will sometines force Ospreys to drop their fish. The Bald Eagle has been our National Symbol since 1782.

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Black-billed Magpie

Almost the icon of Eastern Oregon, the Magpie is a large jay or small crow-like bird. They will eat about anything and travel in large social groups. In the right light, their black wing and tail feathers flash an iridescent blue-green. About 20" in length.

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Black-capped Chickadee

This common little bird is much-loved thanks to its curious nature and cute distinctive appearance. We also occasionally see the Mountain variety which has a white stripe over their eye. About 5" in length.

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California Quail

A common feature of the west; the California Quail is often seen in large groups foraging on the ground for seeds. They seem to prefer walking wherever they go but can fly quickly when spooked. Both sexes have the funny plume hat, but the males are more richly colored. About 10" in length.

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Canada Goose

Like most places in the country, the Canada Goose most familiar. The lake is a breeding area and you'll often see a trail of goslings behind their watchful parents. About 37" in length.

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Cedar Waxwing

Often traveling in flocks, this beautiful bird is a pastel-lovers dream. They can also be very acrobatic when hunting insect on the wing. About 6" in length.

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Clarks Nutcracker

The most common of the 'Camp Robber' jays around Wallowa Lake- but often gets confused with the Grey Jay. They've figured out that we're an easy meal and are often found hanging out at campsites and restaurants, especially up at the top of the tram. They stash food and they never seem to have enough. About 11" in length.

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Common Merganser

These elegant diving ducks nest in the hollow of trees! The males have a deep green head and white bodies while the females have a rust colored head and grey body. They breed here on the lake and are often seen along the shore. About 25" in length.

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Dark-eyed Junco

Juncos are commonly called 'Snow Birds' but in this habitat they're seen year-round. Another variety, the Oregon Junco, is just as common but has buff colored sides. About 6" in length.

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Gray Jay

Camp Robber is the name affectionately given to this friendly jay. They will eat just about anything and often hang out waiting for a free meal. But beware, they  seem to enjoy a life of crime. About 11". Also see Clark's Nutcracker, another 'Camp Robber' jay.

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Great Blue Heron

This large wading bird quietly stalks and waits for prey- then strikes with lightning speed. Fish, gophers, frogs, insects and even other birds are all in this ones diet. In flight, their long slow wing-beats and large size seems prehistoric, like a pterodactyl! Wingspan: up to 79".

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Killdeer

Best known for their broken wing act, this plover can be found almost anywhere, though they do prefer shorelines. About 9" in length.

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Mallard

Americas most common duck. The males have the distinct green head while the females are rather plain. About 23" in length.

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Mountain Bluebird

Bluebirds are often spotted while traveling through open areas where meadow and forest meet. Their color flashes a blue iridescence that's hard to miss. Like their cousins, the Western Bluebird, they'll perch to hunt insects on the ground, but they will also hunt aerobatically on the wing. About 7" in length.

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Mourning Dove

Best known for their sad song, these are often seen perched along phone wires or on the ground foraging for seeds. About 11" in length.

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Osprey

A fairly common sight along the Wallowa Lake shore is the Osprey or 'Fish Hawk' as they're sometimes called. Like their competitor the Bald Eagle, Ospreys dive, talons first, to snatch fish from shallow depths. It's a fun sight to see. About 22" in length.

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Pileated Woodpecker

Often heard before seen, the largest woodpecker spends its day  hunting for bugs in dead trees. It also creates a large nesting cavity that becomes shelter for owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens. About 18" in length.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch

These active little birds are bold and agile. So brave that they will sometimes eat right out of your hand. They love sunflower seeds. About 4" in length.

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Red-tailed Hawk

The most common hawk of the area, Red-Tails often perch on power poles waiting for the sun before they ride the thermals high over their hunting grounds. Living mainly on mice and voles, they will take prey as large as rabbits when the opportunity arises. About 20" in length.

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Seagulls

Seagulls are almost always present at Wallowa Lake except in the winter. Here, they're spending time at the inlet catching Kokanee as they swim upriver to spawn.

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Spotted Sandpiper

This shorebird is easy to find along the south shore of Wallowa Lake. While they may seem a little boring, in the spring their mating displays are a delight to witness. About 8" in length.

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Steller's Jay

The western version of the Blue Jay, the beautiful deep blue and black Steller's Jay often hangs out around campers looking for an easy meal. They can be loud and will even mimic the call of the Red-Tail Hawk to scatter competition around food sources.

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Western Bluebird

This member of the thrush family often perches on low branches surveying the ground for insects. The rust colored breast differentiates them from our more common Mountain Bluebird which prefers open ground. About 7" in length.

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Western Grebe

This diving waterbird is sometimes called the 'Jesus Bird' because of its unique courtship  display where couples will run across the surface of the water. Fairly common, about 26" in length.

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Western Tanager

This brilliantly colored little bird is far more common than you'd think. They spend most of their time high in the canopy but do come down occasionally. They're a exotic sight you'll never forget! About 7" in length.

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