Beaverton Bird Watch: Birding on the fly

By Donna Wiench, Portland Audubon

The first time I went to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve southwest of Hillsboro, was for an Audubon Society of Portland Birdathon outing. It was 7:00 am and raining hard. Still, without leaving the large covered porch, our group led by Jackson Bottom’s Education Director Steve Engel, identified about 25 species. On a recent visit, once again, Jackson Bottom did not disappoint.

I had a bicycling date with friends near Jackson bottom, so took the opportunity for a brief birding episode before the ride. After walking by a wonderfully labeled native plant garden, I looked to the feeders which in spring, are often full of migrating birds. Not so this time. Continuing past a white board where visitors had noted that the at times comical Killdeer were nesting nearby, I turned a corner and came to a stop. A full stop. There, upon a tree straight ahead, was clearly something exciting.

Beginning birders – and I sense I will always be a beginning birder – soon develop favorite species. For many, its hawks and eagles because they are so grand, or Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Blue Birds, Goldfinches and Owls. But for me, at this stage of my birding practice, my bird of choice is the cedar waxwing.  And in the tree that morning there were nine of them. Why do I like Cedar Waxwings? They just have the coolest haircuts — punk, with a very smooth silhouette and a Mohawk-like tuft sticking out in back. What’s not to love?

More than 211 bird species frequent Jackson Bottom, and the Cedar Waxwing is just one of them.

Within its 635 acres are footpaths that bring you near water as well as open fields where Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and thousands of Tundra Swans and Northern Pintails are visible, The Preserve is home to deer, otters, beavers, and thousands of other species, too. Whether you have just a few minutes or a full day, Jackson Bottom is well worth the visit.

Portland Audubon is the leading conservation organization in Oregon. Visit us at or call 503.292.6855. Photo: Cedar Waxwing by Neal Tollisen