by Andy Stepniewski

revised by Penny Rose and Shep Thorp

The Okanogan River winds along the broad trench of the Okanogan Valley through irrigated orchards and hay fields, open rangeland and areas of riparian habitat. Bold, rounded domes of granitic and metamorphic rocks (gneiss) provide a dramatic backdrop in many places. Glacial terraces, formed when a large trunk glacier partially filled the valley, are conspicuous along the sides. Common species throughout the valley in May and June, when birding possibilities peak, include California Quail, Ring-necked Pheasant, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Violet-green, Northern Rough-winged, Bank, Cliff, and Barn Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Black-headed Grosbeak, Brewer’s Blackbird, Bullock’s Oriole, and House Finch. In winter, flocks of Bohemian Waxwings rove about the orchards and brushy draws. Some years there are also flocks of Common Redpolls; look for these in areas of Water Birch and alders, or in ornamental birches in the towns, where a few Pine Grosbeaks may also turn up. Bald Eagle roost along the river, and both Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks also may be seen. Agriculture, grazing, and urbanization have diminished the natural qualities of the landscape close to US-97. However, towns along the highway serve as good jump-off points for birding sites away from the valley bottom.



The small community of Brewster — gateway to the Okanogan Valley — is located on the north shore of the Columbia River (actually Lake Pateros, the reservoir behind Wells Dam) about seven miles above Pateros and three miles below the mouth of the Okanogan River. In winter, drive the town’s residential streets, where ornamental plantings and feeders often attract House Finch, Black-capped Chickadee, Bewick’s Wren, Downy Woodpecker, and the occasional accipiter and Merlin. Before heading off to explore the several birding routes that converge in Brewster, visit some excellent birding sites close by. One is the spot where Swamp Creek empties eastward into Lake Pateros. From US-97, drive south on SR-173 (aka Bridge Street N) one block to Lakeview Way and turn left. You’ll be just north of Swamp Creek.

You can also view the lake and shoreline by turning into the parking lot just south of Swamp Creek (0.2 mile south of US-97). Check for wintering gulls, including Ring-billed, California, Herring, and, rarely, Glaucous Gull. Continuing south on Bridge Street, head west (right) on Bruce Street (0.7 mile) to access waterfront at a local dock and boat launch. This is a terrific area to scope ducks, grebes, and loons. Bald Eagles frequent the area.

Return to US-97, turn left (southwest) and drive 2.5 miles to to Indian Dan Canyon Road. Turn right onto this gravel road and go 1.4 miles to the Indian Dan Canyon Unit of the Wells Wildlife Area (8,200 acres total, of which the Indian Dan Canyon Unit is 4,412 acres). (Note: the entire Indian Dan Canyon Unit was burned by the massive 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire. Biologists expect regrowth in the next four to five years.) Slopes are covered with Bitterbrush and Big Sagebrush, while ravines have riparian habitats with clumps of aspen. Birding these habitats in spring and summer should yield many of the usual Eastside breeding birds including Lark Sparrow. Northern Goshawk occurs fairly regularly in winter. In another mile, turn left on Getz Road and pass a small, marshy lake in the valley bottom; look for Ruddy Ducks, Marsh Wren, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Sharp-tailed Grouse is a remote possibility.

From SR-173 and US-97 in Brewster, travel east 3.4 miles and stop at a wide pullout on the right to survey Cassimer Bar and the mouth of the Okanogan River. Scope for Wood Duck, loons, grebes, Double-crested Cormorant, and American White Pelican, and listen for booming American Bittern. Continue east on US-97 0.1 mile and turn left onto Monse River Road for views of Northern Rough-winged and Cliff Swallow colonies under the Okanogan River Bridge. Return to US-97, turn left and cross the bridge 0.1 mile to an unmarked gravel road on the right. Follow this to a Douglas County PUD fishing access for a better view of this rich birding area, where groves of introduced Russian Olives and other trees alternate with ponds and marshes. Spring and fall can be excellent for migrant passerines. Summer residents include Osprey, Virginia Rail, Forster’s Tern, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, numerous swallows, and Marsh Wren.

The intersection of US-97 and SR-17 is 1.2 miles farther east. Turn right and go south on SR-17 for 0.2 mile. Turn right onto an unmarked road that ends in a half-mile at a causeway to Washburn Island. Park and scan the water and marshlands from here or walk across to the island. Depending on the season, this embayment may be filled with waterbirds. Osprey, Marsh Wren, and Yellow-headed Blackbird are a few of the many species that nest here. In winter, scope the lake for diving ducks (Long-tailed Duck rarely), loons and grebes. As the causeway enters onto Washburn Island, to the west and east is a line of mixed bramble and deciduous trees leading to grain feeders one-quarter mile in either direction. This is an excellent area to view sparrows and the occasional Northern Harrier, accipiter, Great Horned Owl, and Merlin. Rarely, American Tree Sparrows have been seen along the edge of the agricultural fields and bramble. Western Meadowlarks occasionally are present.

Go south another 7.9 miles on SR-17 and turn left for 2.7 miles to Bridgeport State Park. Rock Wrens inhabit rocky ravines uphill from the campground. Adjacent deeper-soiled slopes have a well-developed shrub-steppe habitat (Sage Thrasher, Lark Sparrow). In winter, check the small evergreen trees for evidence of whitewash and roosting Northern Saw-whet Owls. Great Horned Owls breed in the large conifers in the center of the park and are present year round. Northern Goshawk has also been reported. Northern Flicker, American Robin, Varied Thrush, and House Finch frequent the park, which borders the north shore of the Columbia River. Redheads are often seen near the swimming beach.



East of the southern Okanogan Valley, on the Colville Indian Reservation, is a high plateau sometimes called the Timentwa Flats. Birders must abide by Colville regulations, which forbid harassing wildlife and bird species, including using calls or sound recordings to attract birds. Although not included in the regulations, the Colville tribes ask that bird species found on the reservation by individuals not be recorded in digital format—for example, eBird. (Many species on the reservation are classified as sensitive and also are culturally significant; the tribes strive to protect their exact locations.) The wide-open, rolling upland Timentwa Flats, dotted with monstrous glacial erratics, has the same terrain as the adjacent Waterville Plateau across the Columbia River to the south, but is wilder, with no towns and far fewer signs of habitation. Shrub-steppe, Ponderosa Pine forests, small lakes, riparian groves with Quaking Aspen and Water Birch, and dryland wheat farms are the principal habitats. One main gravel road and a few offshoots permit easy, safe exploration of this remote region, but be especially careful during winter and the spring thaw when roads here can become difficult or impossible to negotiate.

From the junction with SR-17 east of Brewster, go north 2.6 miles on US-97 to Cameron Lake Road (aka Wakefield-Cameron Lake Road), an excellent year-round birding route that crosses the heart of the Timentwa Flats to end in Okanogan. Downy Woodpecker, Black-billed Magpie, and Black-capped Chickadees are resident in copses along wetland edges. Breeding species include Calliope Hummingbird, Red-naped Sapsucker, House Wren, Western Bluebird, and Bullock’s Oriole. The many small lakes attract waterfowl and migrant shorebirds. Northern species such as Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl, Gyrfalcon, Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and American Tree Sparrow await those properly equipped for winter birding. Cameron Lake Road ascends 6.3 miles to the edge of the plateau. Once on the rim, look for Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, and Brewer’s, Vesper, Savannah, and Grasshopper Sparrows. Continue east, then north to an intersection with Greenaway Road (5.7 miles). This is raptor country with good numbers of Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks. Other raptors include Golden Eagle, Snowy Owl (rare), Gyrfalcon (rare), and Prairie Falcon. Check ponds and lakes for shorebirds. Baird’s, Pectoral, and Semipalmated Sandpipers are regular in fall migration. Sandhill Cranes can be common in wheat-field stubble and wet swales from late March to mid-April. If road conditions permit, head east on Greenaway Road to a wildlife area (2.0 mile) rich in Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows.

Continue north on Cameron Lake Road for 0.7 mile to Duley Lake. Except when frozen, this lake attracts numerous waterfowl including nesting Redhead and Eared Grebes, American Wigeon, and Ruddy Ducks. Unusual records include Thayer’s Gull and Forster’s Tern. Depending on water levels, shorebird diversity and numbers can be good beginning in late July and continuing through August. Red-tailed Hawks have nested on the cliffs at the north end of the lake. Turn right onto Timentwa Road (3.2 miles) and drive 1.5 miles through wheat field, ponds, and weedy swales. This higher-elevation portion of the plateau (above 2,700 feet) has proven excellent in winter and early spring for Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, and American Tree Sparrow. Fantastic numbers of Snow Buntings (2,000–3,000) have been observed in late February and early March, particularly near the cattle ranch just east of Snyder Lake. The cattle disturb the frozen ponds and earth, providing these agriculture-loving species an opportunity to forage.

Once more headed north on Cameron Lake Road, stop in 0.6 mile to check dense riparian habitat for sparrows and game birds, especially in winter —most recently Gray Partridge, American Tree Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow. In another 2.1 miles lies a dirt lane to the west, giving access to three small lakes amidst wheat fields that sometimes have waterfowl and shorebirds. The main road winds north for 2.4 miles through shrub-steppe (Common Raven and Horned Lark year round, Sage Thrasher and Brewer’s Sparrow in summer). Here begins the descent, gradual at first, through pines alternating with riparian groves. Continue north 0.9 mile to Cook Lake, on the right, particularly good for Greater Scaup and other diving ducks in spring. Penley Lake (0.8 mile), a small alkaline lake, has nesting American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts. For the next two-plus miles, up to where the Ponderosa Pine forest abruptly ends, make a number of stops to look for Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher (May– July), Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches, and Red Crossbill. An area of denser brushland by the road (1.1 mile from the last pines) attracts Brewer’s, Vesper, and Grasshopper Sparrows and Lazuli Bunting. At the intersection with Cameron Lake-Omak Lake Road (1.7 mile), stay left on Cameron Lake Road and proceed west, inspecting the shrub-steppe habitats with Bitterbrush and Big Sagebrush for Loggerhead Shrike (uncommon) and Lark Sparrow from April through July. In 1.4 miles, reach the combined US-97/SR-20 a mile north of Okanogan.

The Soap Lake area, on the western slope of the Timentwa Flats, is good for waterbirds from spring through fall. From the junction of US-97 and SR-17 east of Brewster, go north 4.1 miles on US-97 and turn right onto Soap Lake Road, which climbs the flanks of a glacial terrace into rangelands with scattered alkaline lakes. On the terrace (1.5 miles), in open areas, look for Red-tailed Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, and Brewer’s and Lark Sparrows. For the next three miles you pass three alkaline lakes: Little Soap Lake, an even smaller unnamed lake, and finally mile-long Soap Lake. Look here in nesting season for teals (all three) and other puddle ducks, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Eared Grebe, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Shorebirds occur in migration, especially yellowlegs, Baird’s Sandpiper, and other peeps.



US-97 offers little in the way of birding between Omak and Oroville. Better to seek out the Sinlahekin Valley. Sinlahekin Creek threads its way along a glaciated valley for 17 miles, from Blue Lake (elevation 1,686 feet) north to Palmer Lake (elevation 1,145 feet). This broad trench probably holds a greater diversity of breeding birds than any other area of comparable size in Washington. On both sides, steep slopes with rock outcrops and cliffs ascend abruptly to an elevation of more than 5,000 feet. Ponderosa Pine forest and various bunchgrasses alternate with large areas of Bitterbrush, serviceberry, chokecherry, and snowberry. The valley floor has tangled, dense stands of Water Birch, willow, and aspen, with numerous Beaver ponds and several other impoundments. Two interesting routes lead from US-97 to the Sinlahekin Valley. One takes off from Omak, proceeds northwest through Conconully and then north to Loomis; the other heads north from Tonasket and then west toward Loomis.

To reach Conconully, an excellent birding destination and route in its own right, begin in Omak (north end) at the junction of US-97 and Riverside Drive. Proceed west on Riverside 1.0 mile and turn right onto Cherry Avenue (becomes Kermel Road), following signs for Conconully Lake. Go 2.1 miles to a stop sign, then right (north) onto Conconully Road. For about half the 15-mile distance from here to Conconully, the road passes through orchards and grazing country (Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch). For the remainder, rangelands alternate with shrub-steppe habitats where Chukar, Vesper and Lark Sparrows, and Western Meadowlark are common. From Kermel Road, travel northwest 8.2 miles on Conconully Road to Hess Lake Road and turn right. Hess Lake, on the left in 0.2 mile, supports breeding Ruddy Ducks and Yellow-headed Blackbirds; a marshy area beyond the lake has Virginia Rail and Common Yellowthroat. The road ends at a WDFW area set aside for Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Returning to Conconully Road, turn right and continue 2.7 miles to a parking area for the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, where a small number of Sharp-tailed Grouse can be seen in winter eating catkins from Water Birches, most reliably in the area north of the Conconully Road where it is intersected by Happy Hill Road. Other winter species include Gray Partridge, Northern Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Northern Shrike.

Continue northwest on Conconully Road. On the left in four miles is the first entrance for Conconully State Park (not well signed), which affords a good view of Conconully Reservoir. Scan for waterfowl and gulls. Return to Conconully Road and turn left. Go 0.4 mile, turn left, then left again in one block into the main park entrance (Discover Pass required). The trees here are worth checking in migration, as is the open area west of the campground.

Farther west along Broadway from the park entrance, curve left (now proceeding south on West Fork Road), to find forest birds typical of Ponderosa Pine forests, which are fairly common between the road and the reservoir. These include Northern Pygmy-Owl, Calliope Hummingbird (feeders at cabins), all three nuthatches, Cassin’s Finch, and Evening Grosbeak. In winter, listen for Red Crossbills. Rarely, White-winged Crossbills are heard or seen here and in town. After leaving Conconully Reservoir, West Fork Road enters a riparian area and then begins ascending West Fork Salmon Creek through forests of Douglas-fir, Western Larch, and Ponderosa Pine. Baldy Pass and Roger Lake lie ahead.

Back in town, check winter feeders for passerines. Nice finds include Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, White-headed Woodpecker, Clark’s Nutcracker, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Pine Grosbeak.

To reach the Sinlahekin Valley from Conconully, go north on Main Street and in 0.2 mile turn right onto Lake Street, which becomes Sinlahekin Road, running east, then north along the shore of Conconully Lake before contouring around Sugarloaf and descending toward Fish Lake. In 5.3 miles, stop in the Douglas-fir forest to look and listen for Hairy Woodpecker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Cassin’s Vireo, and Nashville Warbler, among many other breeding species. In winter, check open areas for Northern Goshawk. Between here and Loomis, the route passes through the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area (22,840 acres), Washington’s oldest state wildlife area. When purchased, these lands were intended primarily to provide habitat for the large Mule Deer herd. Today they are managed—including controlled burns—for a diversity of wildlife.

At an intersection with Fish Lake Road (1.4 miles), stay left with Sinlahekin Road to a view of Blue Lake (3.4 miles), where Hooded Merganser and Common Loon are regular. Shallower Forde Lake, 5.1 miles farther north, has Pied-billed Grebe, a variety of waterfowl, and many Willow Flycatchers and Common Yellowthroats. Red-necked Grebes have nested here. Marsh-fringed Connors Lake is an exceptional birding site. Turn off right from Sinlahekin Road in 1.5 miles, go a few yards, then turn right again to find the lake in 0.4 mile. The many nesting waterbirds include Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Spotted Sandpiper. Surrounding riparian zone and marsh habitats are great for Ruffed Grouse, Black-chinned and Calliope Humming- bird, Red-naped Sapsucker, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Barn Swallows, Marsh Wren, Veery, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Nashville Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Bullock’s Oriole. Rarities such as Rose-breasted Grosbeak have been recorded here.

The riparian zone is best accessed on foot from headquarters along the Dave Brittell Memorial Trail that extends south to Hunter’s Camp, south of Forde Lake. Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl and Western Screech-Owl have nested near headquarters. On forested and brushy slopes away from water, look for Chukar, Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagle, Common Nighthawk, Common Poorwill, Lewis’s, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Merlin (particularly in fall), Western Wood-Pewee, Dusky Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Rock, Canyon, and House Wrens, Western Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, and Cassin’s Finch.

About five miles farther north, Sinlahekin Road enters Loomis and becomes Palmer Avenue. At the fork, turn left onto northbound Loomis-Oroville Road. (If you wish to connect to US-97 or SR-20 in Tonasket, turn right here and head east 11.6 miles to an intersection with Westside Road; turn right to reach Tonasket in another five miles.) Northward 4.3 miles on the Loomis-Oroville Road lies Palmer Lake, nestled in a trough. Between Loomis and Palmer Lake, scan hay fields for Bobolink and rocky faces for Chukar. American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Sora, Spotted Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Willow Flycatcher, several swallow species and Common Yellowthroat should be looked for in the marshes at the southern and northern end of Palmer Lake. Good viewing access can be found at the Split Rock Day Area (BLM) at the southern end. A few Common Mergansers, Common Loons, and Western Grebes can sometimes be scoped on the deep waters of the lake; White-winged Scoter and other sea ducks occur rarely. A Ross’s Gull was recorded here. A better bet for waterbirds usually is to continue around the lake 4.4 miles to its north end. Sandbars may have resting gulls or Caspian Terns.

The second approach to the Sinlahekin Valley from US-97 begins in Tonasket, about 22 miles north of Omak. In Tonasket, turn left on Fourth Street, go 0.3 mile and turn right onto Highway 7 (following signs to the Many Lakes Recreation Area). After five miles, the road curves left and becomes the Loomis-Oroville Road. In three miles, find a Public Fishing Access on the left at Whitestone Lake. Redheads and Red-necked Grebes nest here. Continue west on Loomis-Oroville Road 3.1 miles to an unmarked access on the left to view the east end of Spectacle Lake for Redhead, Red-necked Grebe, Killdeer, and Belted Kingfisher. It is 5.5 miles west to Loomis and the Sinlahekin Valley.

For a side trip featuring high-plateau birding, continue west 3.4 miles on Loomis-Oroville Road and turn left onto Horse Spring Coulee Road. The road climbs steeply 0.7 mile to a sage and grassland area. Continue south another 0.7 mile and stop at a fork for Brewer’s, Vesper, and Lark Sparrows and Sage Thrasher. Continue until the sage ends in wide expanse of grassland at the Double R Ranch in 1.2 miles. Bird from the road for Grasshopper Sparrow and nesting Long-billed Curlews. From here, you may either return to Loomis-Oroville Road or continue 9.6 miles to an intersection with North Pine Creek Road. This route proceeds through homesteads, Ponderosa Pine, riparian areas, and a few ponds. Go left on North Pine Creek Road to return to US-97 and Tonasket (3.8 miles); turn right to reach Fish Lake and the Sinlahekin Wildlife Refuge.



The outlet creek of Palmer Lake meanders north for a couple of miles to reach the Similkameen River and outstanding birding. A little over a half-mile north of the north end of the lake, turn left from the Loomis-Oroville Road onto Chopaka Road, which leads up the Similkameen Valley for 6.5 miles to a closed gate a short distance before the U.S.-Canada border (not a port of entry). Here, you’ll find riparian habitat and river views, where you can see Wilson’s Snipe, Yellow Warbler, and Bullock’s Oriole. Most of the land along Chopaka Road is private, but interesting habitats reach the road. In the first mile are meadows, areas of brush, fields (many flooded in the spring) featuring Eastern Kingbird, Savannah Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, Bobolink, and a variety of waterfowl. Sloughs lined with riparian vegetation lie ahead—great for Black-chinned Hummingbird, Red-naped Sapsucker, Willow Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Veery, Gray Catbird, and MacGillivray’s and Yellow Warblers. To the west, Chopaka Mountain sweeps precipitously down from its summit for more than 6,000 feet in one unbroken slope. The cliffs have Chukar, Golden Eagle, White-throated Swift, Violet-green Swallow, and Rock and Canyon Wrens. Farther along, look for Calliope Hummingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Dusky Flycatcher, Cassin’s Vireo, House Wren, and Nashville Warbler on the open, brushy slopes and in Douglas-fir forest at the base of the mountain. A few areas of open water expand the possibilities. At 4.3 miles from the Loomis-Oroville Road is a parking area on the right for WDFW’s Similkameen-Chopaka Wildlife Area. This spot affords close views of the Similkameen as well as pedestrian access through cottonwood and snowberry to a rich riparian area on an old railroad bed, where you can see Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, as well as Least Flycatcher.

Return to the Loomis-Oroville Road and turn left. In 0.5 mile, pull out to the right at an overlook of Champney Slough, (recent habitation and shrinking roadsides make this less than ideal but worth the effort), in the heart of an area of exceptional diversity of breeding birds. More than 100 species have been documented here, including Chukar, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, Western Screech-Owl, Common Poorwill, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Least Flycatcher (calling from riparian vegetation on the island) Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Rock and Canyon Wrens, Veery, Gray Catbird, American Redstart(uncommon), Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Bullock’s Oriole. For the faint of heart, many of these species can be found along Chopaka Road.

Continuing north, then east, the Loomis-Oroville Road follows the Similkameen River downstream to Oroville (15.7 miles). Various unmarked accesses to the stream allow you to see Lewis’s Woodpecker, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, and Bullock’s Oriole. At four miles from Champney Slough, turn left (north) onto Similkameen Road for a side trip to good sage habitat with Brewer’s, Vesper and Lark Sparrows. As you travel along Loomis-Oroville Road, check the steep slopes and cliffs for Chukar, Golden Eagle, and Common Poorwill.




The small farming and ranching community of Oroville, just below the U.S.-Canada border, is a crossroads of excellent birding routes, west to the Similkameen Valley, east to the Okanogan Highlands (page 448) or north on US-97 to the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

Driscoll Island Unit-Sinlahekin Wildlife Area (350 acres) is south of Oroville near the confluence of the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers. Currently, access to the island is by boat. However, observing the island from a concrete platform on the shore offers good birding, especially early on a May or June morning. Drive south 2.9 miles on US-97 (Main Street) from Central Avenue in Oroville; turn right onto Gavin Road. The lush streambank habitats host Spotted Sandpiper, Rufous Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Bullock’s Oriole. Another access 0.8 mile farther north on US-97 (closer to Oroville) signed Public Fishing Access has similar possibilities.

To begin a 20-mile loop through an old mining district southwest of Oroville, head 0.3 mile south of Central Avenue on US-97 (Main Street), turn west on 12th Avenue, and cross the Similkameen River, curving left onto Westside Road (aka Highway 7 and Janis-Oroville Road). In 1.0 mile from US-97, turn right at a sign for Ellemeham Mountain. The many bird-rich habitats here include steep, barren slopes and rocky outcrops, shrub-steppe, aspen-lined watercourses, grasslands, and a few areas of marsh and lakes. This route is especially good during the breeding season. At the fork in 0.1 mile, keep right on Ellemeham Road, which climbs steeply out of the Okanogan Valley. In 2.0 miles, look for ducks such as nesting Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal and shorebirds at Mud Lake. Over the next 10 miles as the road leaves the lake, drops down into Ellemeham Draw (3.8 miles), climbs out of the draw and then starts down a canyon, look for Clay-colored Sparrow (rare), especially in early June. Their preferred habitat is patches of snowberry and wild rose that contrast strongly with the silver-hued Big Sagebrush. Also look for Sage Thrasher (uncommon), and Brewer’s, Vesper, and Grasshopper Sparrows in areas of shrub-steppe.

As you continue down the canyon, the riparian vegetation hosts Red-naped Sapsucker, Dusky Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, House Wren, Veery, and Orange-crowned and Yellow Warblers. Edges of riparian and sagebrush can be rich with sparrows such as Lark and White-crowned. About 10 miles past Mud Lake, you reach a sign for Ellis-Barnes Road; turn right (south). Proceeding down the canyon, in 2.5 miles past the Ellis-Barnes sign, you reach the intersection of Wannacut Lake Road and Blue Lake Road. Continue straight east on Blue Lake Road 4.1 miles, stopping at a couple of other lake viewpoints. Turn left onto Golden Road, then right in 1.6 miles to reach the starting place on Westside Road in another 0.1 mile. Turn left to return to Oroville.

Klein Wildlife Area, a Bureau of Reclamation site, is 0.7 mile south of the Ellemeham Mountain intersection on Westside Road. Park at a pullout on the left and take the trail (often flooded in the spring) across a slough (Wood Duck, Spotted Sandpiper, Gray Catbird) and through weedy fields to tall riparian habitat flanking the Okanogan River. Expect the same assortment of birds as at Driscoll Island, including Yellow-breasted Chat. Here, however, you can immerse yourself in their habitat.

The entrance to Osoyoos Lake State Park is east of US-97, 0.6 mile north of the Main Street-Central Avenue corner in Oroville. The park is busy in summer but worth a stop at other seasons. Osoyoos Lake is a good bet for Osprey, and the marsh near the lake’s outlet has Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Ornamental plantings and riparian vegetation can be productive for passerines in migration, especially during inclement weather. Migration and winter also attract a sprinkling of diving ducks, loons (mostly Common, but Yellow-billed has occurred), and grebes. Greater Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser often winter in small numbers.