Welcome to Paradise!
Though the Bandon Fish Hatchery serves primarily as a place where fish are hatched and reared, you should be able to spot wood ducks at the intake reservoirs, as well as walls, herons, and kingfishers.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive north to Second Street/OR-42S; drive 0.78 miles, then take the third right onto Fish Hatchery Road. Fish Hatchery Road lies just past Chow Road.)
At the 900-acre Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of shorebirds feed and rest throughout the spring and fall.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive 1.3 miles north. Turn left on Riverside Drive and go 0.6 miles to the parking area directly on your right.)
The enormous number of gigantic offshore rocks in Bandon make it a prime destination for birds and the people who love them. Whatever your level of interest in spotting and enjoying the birds who spend time here, the following locations will undoubtedly satisfy your curiosity. All of the locations are free and accessible to the public.
125 species of birds have been identified from the trails and open spaces of the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The resort maintains ten miles or so of trails and remains committed to conserving the habitat. If you decide to visit, please be sure to stop in at the main lodge first.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive north over the Coquille River Bridge, then turn left at the Bandon Dunes Gold Resort sign.)
More birds can be found at the Ni-les'tun Unit of the refuge. An informative sign and viewing deck allows you to settle in before you begin looking for the marsh wren the norther harrier, and the black phoebe, to name only a few of the dozens of species that spend time here.
Bullards Beach State Park is a magical spot where you'll enjoy an easy, one-mile walk through open fields and shore pine. Along the way, you might spot pelicans, cormorants, sanderlings, and scoter. If these birds allude you, you'll at least be greeted by wild turkeys who frequent the park entrance.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive north two miles and left into the park.)
Coquille Point is part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and offers views of offshore rock formations that serve as a habitat for seabirds. Follow the short trail, which features informative signs about the area's wildlife. You can also access the beach from here to spot more birds.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, turn west on 11th Street and drive to the parking lot at the end of the road.)
The Coquille River South Jetty provides an abundance of birds for your viewing pleasure. Scoter, loon, cormorant, sandpiper, and several types of gull can be spotted here.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, turn north at the stoplight on Fillmore; go 1 block and turn left onto First Street. Drive 0.5 miles, turn right onto Jetty Road, and drive 0.6 miles to the parking lot at roads end.)
Pullouts along the scenic Coquille River Valley Loop allow you to observe waterfowl that winter in the area. From spring to fall, you should be able to spot raptor, kite, kestrel, falcon, hawk, and egret. (From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive north over the Coquille River Bridge, turn right onto North Bank Lane and continue 15 miles to the intersection of Highway 42. Turn right towards Coquille and drive 5 miles following the signs back to Bandon. Take Highway 42S back to Bandon.)
In addition to offering the most direct view of one of the areas most famous rock formations, Face Rock Waysideprovides the possibility for seeing species of birds too numerous to mention. Each visit brings something different.
(From Highway 101 in Bandon, turn right on 11th Street, then left onto Beach Loop Drive. Proceed to the wayside entrance on the right.)
New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern offers trails that allow visitors to see common nesting species. Spring migration welcomes Aleutian cackling goose, Caspian tern, and tens of thousands of shorebirds. (From Highway 101 in Bandon, drive south 9 miles, turn right on Croft Lake Road, go 1.5 miles, stay right at the fork and proceed 0.3 miles to the parking lot.)
Whiskey Run Beach lies between Seven Devils Recreation Site and Bullards Beach State Park. At Whiskey Run, offshore islands and outcroppings of rock provide rest for seabirds and opportunities for birders to view them.
(From the junction of Highway 101 and 2nd Street in Old Town, drive north 4.9 miles, make a left onto Seven Devils Road, and go 2.8 miles.At the four-way junction, turn left on Whiskey Run Lane and drive another 1.4 miles to the parking area.)
Relax, my Little Chickadee
While the list of places to visit may seem daunting, theres no need to hurry or feel overwhelmed. Venturing out to spot some of the many species of birds that frequent the area should be fun and relaxing. Hurrying defeats the purpose. The pleasure here lies in taking things slowly. And thegreat thing about birding in Bandon is that you don't need to drive very far. In fact, you can walk to many of the destinations listed above and not feel tired by the time you arrive. Other great things? You don't need a bunch of equipment; you don't need a lot of time; you don't have to turn it into a ritual or long-term commitment that you end up feeling guilty about later if you lose interest. Finally, and by necessity, birding is a low impact activity, so unless you're out there suddenly being pecked at like Tippie Hedren in The Birds, which is unlikely, you're not going to face injury.
To get started, all you really need are a pair of comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. At some point along the way, however, you may want to know more about what you're looking at in order to develop a greater appreciation for the sizes and shapes of birds, their colors and color patterns, their behavior, and their preferred regions and habitats. Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America is part of a classic, regularly updated series. It's highly affordable, comprehensive, and easy to use.
If you're more inclined to se technology and want to use your phone while out there, numerous bird identifier and song apps are free to download. Down the road, and for obvious reasons, a reasonably priced pair of binocular will make your outings 100% more enjoyable.
While you're here, you might want to check out these two brief yet surprisingly comprehensive videos of what you might be getting into.
To Flock or Not
For the introvert, birding provides ideal conditions. The sheer size of Bandons coastline in relation to its small population allows a birder to have an entire habitat to himself at times. A more community minded birder can take advantage of speaker programs, field trips, and conservation efforts sponsored by the Cape Arago Audubon Society of Coos County. The chapter also helps organize Bandons contribution to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count that takes place nationally. After volunteers perform the vital work of counting the birds, someone crunches the numbers into a database for experts in the U.S., Canada and beyond to use for research and reporting. If youd like to volunteer, contact the chapter. (http://www.capearagoaudubon.org) Youll not only contribute to a valuable cause but get to share the experience with other like-minded people you might end up befriending.
In addition to the annual bird count, the chapter sponsors the Oregon Shorebird Festival. Though it was cancelled in 2020 for the first time in 34 years because of Covid, organizers remain hopeful that the 2021 summer festival will return. Click here for updates: https://www.oregonshorebirdfestival.org.