Spring Malheur Shorebird Survey

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | April 24-27, 2024

Join Bird Alliance of Oregon and USFWS staff in supporting the regional effort to survey spring migrating shorebirds in the intermountain west. We’ll survey the Silvies Floodplain, and the Double O, Malheur Lake, and waters of the Blitzen Valley for spring migrating shorebirds. This survey is part of a project organized by Point Blue Bird Observatory and National Bird Alliance of Oregon, with support from the USFWS. Camping will be available. Camping gear will be available for participants to use during this event. There are some driving routes during this survey. All other routes require a minimum of 5 miles of hiking, with the possibility of 10 miles. Conditions in spring are unpredictable. Wet playas can be difficult to walk on/survey. This survey will present an opportunity for adventure! There are no bathrooms available during this survey.

Partners: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Point Blue Bird Observatory, National Bird Alliance of Oregon, USFWS

A Greater Yellowlegs is standing in shallow water, facing right.
Greater Yellowlegs, photo by Jim Cruce

About the Survey

  • Survey Instructions: Basic survey instructions are available including maps of survey areas.
  • When:  April 24-27 (and fall survey is happening August 21-24)
  • Where: Survey sites are all in closed areas of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. These sites include Stinking Lake, Harney Lake, and Mud Lake. Surveys may also happen at adjacent playa and spring habitat on BLM land depending on capacity.
  • Time Commitment: Three days, 1-2 for travel and 1-2 for surveys
  • Reporting: Completed shorebird datasheets will be provided after surveys are finalized. Datasheets will be collected from Team Leaders and submitted to the Malheur NWR wildlife and Bird Alliance of Oregon biologists.


Volunteer Requirements

  • Trainings:  Orientation to the protocol and shorebird ID will be provided prior to surveying. Volunteers will work on a team.
  • Bird ID Skills: Must be able to identify Snowy Plovers and other shorebirds, including peeps. Team Leaders will be experienced with shorebird ID and will be familiar with survey sites and protocol.
  • Equipment: Must have own binoculars (some may be available from Malheur NWR with notice ahead of time). Some scopes will be provided. You are welcome to bring your own scope.
  • Field Conditions: All surveys occur in areas that do not have driving access. Because of this, most surveys have a hike-in/out in addition to the walking survey covering up to 10 miles on uneven, often sandy, terrain (although less than 5 miles is possible). Please indicate what distances you’re comfortable with walking on the survey (click on the “view more” button in the sign-up above).
  • Transportation: Transportation to Malheur NWR will be your responsibility. Refuge vehicles will be available for Team Leaders to drive participants to survey sites.



For questions contact Teresa Wicks, Eastern Oregon Biologist, at twicks@birdallianceoregon.org