The Pine Lakes Loop Trail and Winslow Pool, about a 10-minute walk from the headquarters, are particularly productive. You can see everything from quail to Canvasbacks to waxwings in the area.
In addition to birds, Turnbull provides excellent opportunities to see mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. A recent butterfly inventory identified 51 species on the refuge. During a recent summer trip, I was fortunate enough to spot a moose along the auto route. That was right before seeing juvenile Great Horned Owls and foraging Black Terns, among many others.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Lakes, ponds, wetlands, ponderosa pine forest, riparian areas, grasslands.
Several trails lead to a variety of habitats. The office is wheelchair-accessible, as are several paved trails.
Year-round: California Quail, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted, White-breasted, and Pygmy Nuthatches, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Red Crossbill. Summer: Trumpeter Swan, Blue-winged, Green-winged, and Cinnamon Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Redhead, Ring-necked and Ruddy Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe, Osprey, Virginia Rail, Wilson’s Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Black Tern, Common Nighthawk, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Western Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow-headed Blackbird.
When to go
Year-round. Spring, summer, and fall are best seasons. Most productive birding in early mornings and evenings.
Trails, boardwalks, observation platforms, and 5-mile auto-tour route. Hiking trails open daily from sunrise to sunset. Friends of Turnbull bookstore open on weekends 11-4 during summer.
National wildlife refuge. $3/day fee or Refuge Annual Pass, Federal Duck Stamp, and Interagency Access, Senior, and Volunteer Passes. Refuge office open 7:30-4, Monday through Friday; closed on federal holidays.
Refuge accessible via Columbia Plateau Trail.
For more info
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
Turnbull is a great place to find waterfowl, and that means lots of opportunities to photograph them. To create compelling photos of ducks or other waterfowl with great eye contact, it’s important to get low and place your camera close to the surface of the water. This often means wearing waders. If you want to capture reflections in the water, you may want to raise the camera higher.