This Portland city park is the place to see Anna's Hummingbird, Western Screech-Owl, Townsend's, Hermit, and MacGillivray's Warblers, Western Tanager, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Varied Thrush, and to meet up with fellow birdwatchers
By John Rakestraw | Published: 4/24/2009
The 630-foot elevation and mixed forest habitat of Mount Tabor Park make it an oasis for migrant songbirds and a gathering place for the Portland birding community. The mountain is laced with paved roads and unpaved trails, so a birder can either walk a quick loop if time is limited or spend many hours exploring.
Although I live on the other side of town, I always make a few trips to Mount Tabor in the spring. It is the best spot in Portland to find all the western warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and other songbirds. A few eastern vagrants appear every year. It is also the place to find other birders, to learn what has been seen and where. On Wednesdays, the park is closed to vehicles, so you can bird from the roads without danger of blocking traffic and without the noise of cars interfering with the birdsong.
The diversity of species diminishes after spring migration, but the nesting and wintering birds make a walk here worth the trip in any season.
– John Rakestraw
John Rakestraw is the author of Birding Oregon. He teaches for the Audubon Society of Portland and leads tours for Paradise Birding. He also wrote about Smith and Bybee Wetlands, Portland, Oregon, Hotspot Near You No. 28, and Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, Salem, Oregon, No. 48.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Mixed woodland, thickets, small reservoirs.
Several miles of paved roads and unpaved trails. The paved roads are wheelchair-accessible, but there is an elevation gain of 370 feet from the parking lot to the summit. No opportunity to bird from the car.
Spring: Townsend’s, Hermit, Black-throated Gray, Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, and MacGillivray’s Warblers, Olive-sided, Pacific-slope, Hammond’s, and Dusky Flycatchers, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Vireo, Western Tanager. Summer: Band-tailed Pigeon, Vaux’s Swift, Western Wood-Pewee, Hutton’s Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak. Winter: Varied Thrush, Winter Wren. Resident: Anna’s Hummingbird, Great Horned Owl, Western Screech-Owl, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Spotted Towhee.
When to go
April and May provide the best diversity. Worth a visit any time of year. Mornings best.
Restrooms at main parking lot. Audubon Society of Portland leads morning birdsong walks every Wednesday from late March to early June.
City park. Free. 5 a.m.-midnight daily. Roads closed to vehicles all day Wednesdays, and from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. all other days. Served by Tri-Met busses No. 4, 15, and 71. Free parking.
Park in the lot at the north end of the park (Volcano Parking Lot) and walk up to the summit. (On Wednesdays, you will need to park along the street outside the locked gate.) A spotting scope is not needed.