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February 3 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Beginning Birding and Sauvie Island Exploration (Saturdays: Feb, Mar, Apr) *FULL*

This is a three-part series on Saturday mornings: February 3, March 2, April 6, 2024. The fee covers all three sessions.

This field class series is perfect for those interested in developing and sharpening their birding skills under various field conditions with expert birders. Explore different habitats on the island, learn bird calls, and search for waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors.

Located within the heart of the Pacific Flyway, Sauvie Island is the largest island in the Columbia River and the site of an extensive wildlife refuge. We could not ask for a better, more accessible, and diverse landscape to call our local birding patch. Join Greg and Ricky for Saturday morning explorations at one of Oregon’s most accessible Important Bird Areas. Sauvie Island has abundant open spaces and a mix of habitats and hosts a large population of wintering birds.

The winter brings exciting changes to the birdlife of Sauvie. We will welcome back our wintering birds, such as Golden-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Ring-necked Duck. In December, we can expect to find thousands of Snow Geese intermixed with Canada and Cackling Geese. Sauvie is also known as one of the best spots in greater Portland to raptor watch. Overwintering raptors include Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Meet Greg and Ricky at the Sauvie Island parking lot near the bridge at 8:00 a.m. each Saturday. Parking permits must also be purchased on your own.

  • The only access to Sauvie Island is via the bridge off Highway 30. Consider filling your tank in advance, as gasoline is unavailable on the island. Parking is free at the bridge parking lot. Parking permits are required on Sauvie Island to park in all wildlife areas on the island. Daily permits are $10.00; annual permits are $30.00. More information on permits. This permit can be purchased near the bridge at the Cracker Barrel Store on Sauvie Island.
  • You will drive yourself, or car-pooling will be an option. Bring snacks and water. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.



Walking distance: Up to 1.5 miles total.
Elevation changes: None, except for one very short hill up to the dike at Racoon Point.
Trail: Most of our walking will be along dirt roads, with patches of mud and some coarse rocks.
Pacing: Slow.
Rest stops: We will visit 3-5 locations, with breaks in between. No rest stops on our walk.
Sun exposure: Full to partial.
Bathrooms: Each stop will have a portapotty. Google map of Sauvie Island Public Toilets
Parking: Ample parking. Participants need an ODFW Wildlife Area parking permit.

A flock of Ross's Geese flying.
Ross's Goose flock, photo by Scott Carpenter

Register for Beginning Field Birding and Sauvie Island Exploration

Sign up for the three-part Saturday morning explorations and sharpen your birding skills.


Field Class Details

  • When: Saturdays: February 3, March 2, and April 6, 2024
  • Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Location: Sauvie Island (transportation not provided).
  • Fee: $115 members / $145 non-members *fee covers all 3 Saturdays
  • Parking permits must be purchased ahead of time and on your own.
  • Limited to 12 participants

Ricky Allen

I have been birding for 24 years, and I have always been interested in wildlife and nature. I’ve been a fisherman since I was about 12 years old and was a boy scout even before that. The thing about fishing was I was always watching my bobber and fishing pole and not looking up in the sky to see what was flying by. In 1998 my wife and I were sitting in our living room reading through certain parts of the newspaper, she saw where Bird Alliance of Oregon was sponsoring a Bald Eagle viewing trip at Sauvie Island. I couldn’t believe there were Bald Eagles at Sauvie Island because I had been out there several times fishing, but I wasn’t looking up at the sky.

So, I sign up for the Bald Eagle viewing trip in February of 1998 and was blown away at the number of eagles, hawks, and other raptors that were on the island. As we were concluding the trip and getting back on the bus, I saw older ladies with their binoculars up looking at some little brown birds. One of the ladies said to me no, those aren’t just little brown birds; one of them is a Black-capped Chickadee, and the other is a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I’m like a Sapsucker that is what Granny and Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies used to call Jethro when they would get mad at him. I took my binoculars and put them up to my eyes and saw the color and diversity and beauty of both birds, and that hooked me!

That same year I began to go out to Sauvie Island by myself to learn more about birds, and that’s where I met Greg Baker, my mentor for the past 24 years. He invited me to join him for one of his classes that he was teaching for the Bird Alliance of Oregon, we’ve been joined at the hip ever since. Greg Baker’s birding skills and knowledge are amazing, I feel lucky that he’s shared them with me.

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia but raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Married my high school sweetheart Deborah Allen in 1983, and we raised two wonderful daughters. All family members enjoy going birding with me. I played college basketball at The College of Idaho and graduated in 1980 with a teaching degree in Health & Physical Education. I taught for 8 years at Whitaker Middle School and Jefferson High School and, in 1988, went on to become one of the founding members of a youth program called Self Enhancement Inc. I did that for 14 years and was lured away by the Vancouver School District to set up similar programming in 2001. During my time at VSD, I got my administrative license and left to be a Vice Principal at Reynolds High School in 2005-2008. In 2008 I left the Reynolds School District to return to PPS and Jefferson High School to become their Vice Principal and Principal until 2022. All the while, I have been educating and exposing kids of color to birdwatching and nature. I’m retired now and plan to share this wonderful experience and birdwatching with kids of color.

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February 3
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Tara Lemezis