Fall and winter signal less daylight and many barren trees, but species unseen in other seasons emerge across the nearly 1,400 acres that comprise the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood.
In fall, winged visitors to the Refuge include migratory land birds heading south: varieties of Canadian Geese, Western Meadowlark, Northern Shrike–and certain Wood Ducks and Mallards.
Winter months give way to the Peregrine Falcon, House Finches, Violet-green Swallows, Ruddy Ducks and certain types of bats.
The combination of the Refuge’s ponds, seasonal wetlands, forest and upland habitat make it a both a desirable stopping point and year-round home.
Permanent residents include: Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles, Redtailed Hawks, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Ring-necked Pheasant, California Quail, Robins, Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds and a variety of waterfowl.
Sightings are not limited to the winged variety. Mammals making the Tualatin River basin and the Refuge their home include: Beaver, Pacific Brush rabbits, Snowshoe Hares, squirrels, moles, gophers, shrews, opossum, red or grey foxes, raccoons, mink, coyote, skunks, Black-tailed deer and porcupine. This also includes the Northern flying squirrel and the Pacifc Jumping Mouse; watch your head–and feet!
Also enjoy the activity of 27 species of reptiles and amphibians,including varieties of salamander, bullfrogs, turtles, lizards, and–gasp–snakes.
A visit isn’t complete without taking stock of the variety of insects, fish and plants. Wetland plants indeed provide refuge and shelter; binoculars are recommended to see all the refuge has to offer, especially while walking the two miles of paved trails.
The most active times for birds–and much of the animal activity–are dawn and dusk. Luckily the Refuge and its outdoor features (paths, lookouts and the parking area) are open from dawn to dusk every day of the week. The indoor Visitor’s Interpretive Center and the Nature Store are currently open fall/winter hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.