Get the scoop on the best family activities in Portland.

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

Ready to charm your flock with some fresh air, gorgeous northwest green space, a creek to follow, and many a bird to watch? Grab your mud boots and head on over to the Audubon Society of Portland’s sanctuary for a superb morning or afternoon in the tranquil outdoors. Located in NW Portland and our beloved Forest Park, this sanctuary (in every sense of the word) showcases a Wildlife Care Center, Nature Store with exhibits, looping trails, and plenty of bird watching for trained and untrained eyes.

Audubon Sanctuary Pond - Elie Boas

Grab your little birds and start your journey at The Nature Store and Interpretive Center. Check out the taxidermy on display – owls, a beaver, bobcat and several eagles and hawks. Gaze out the windows at the many birds eating at the feeders and then identify them as they perch via the books of photos on hand. Next learn about bones and shells in their sensory station or use the topographical map to orient your group of little amblers and think about where to head first. Lastly, stop by the store to chat with staff, grab a map, have any questions answered and admire the many sets of binoculars on display.

PAS c and t nature store

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
At the Wildlife Care Center get a sense for the important and dedicated work going on daily. Every bird is being rehabilitated and hopefully returned to the great outdoors. Several birds unable to return to the wild are on new assignment – as education birds – and are on display outside. Greet Ruby the turkey vulture and Aristophanes the raven. She loves kiddos so give her a big hello! The Audubon Society of Portland opens the Wildlife Care Center doors a few times a year for a behind-the-scenes look into the pecking order…er…care and therapy happening onsite.

Audubon Wildlife Care Center 

Wing It: Hit The Trails
Continue on your way by hitting the trails for some excellent (and likely) muddy fun. Down a small hill are several options: wandering along Balch Creek, admiring pond and tree life, following the Woodpecker trail or a looping four-mile trek on the Jay Trail. Several foot bridges and benches keep the paths interesting for young hikers and provide snack area or wardrobe adjustment spots. Birds-eye views await!

Audubon Society

For longer sojourns in the amazing outdoors, you can head over to adjacent Upper Macleay Park or even hike in to the Audubon Society from other points (Pittock Mansion is a twenty five minute hike). Forest Park is huge, as we all know, and offers unlimited ways to get your walkabout fix. Throwing in some bird viewing and an educational time-out only makes it that much better. High five super-fly parents!

In Fine Feather
The Audubon Society of Portland is much more than just this outpost. They run summer and winter break camps, classes and workshops for all ages on birding, plant identification and nature and even plan trips to far off lands to enjoy their flora, fauna and winged locals. Leach Botanical Garden in East Portland and the Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary at the coast are their other Oregon sanctuaries and their conservation efforts help to make Portland the city we love. They offer countless events and activities all year long that are downtime-worthy for the whole family – guided snow shoeing adventures, raptor round-ups on Sauvie Island, Welcome Back Vulture Day, wildflower walks, native plant sales and more. Follow them on Facebook to keep abreast of all their news and breathtaking photos taken by some pros.

Aristophanes the Common Raven - Tom Schmid

As the Crow Flies: Things to Know
Portland’s Audubon Society is open dawn (early birds) to dusk (night owls) seven glorious days a week. Access is free and donations are welcome. They are a Top four star charity and their team birdathon is rumored to be the biggest and baddest west of the Mississippi. In November their Wild Arts Festival at Montgomery Park is a calendar-winning fundraiser celebrating nature galore.

The trails are muddy so wear the right gear and bring your own snacks and water. The parking lot is small and gets crowded on weekends, with half the spots designated as thirty minute parking only. Hike in if you can, or check their overflow lot across the street.

PAS c and t trail

Whether you eagle-eye dozens of birds or only a few, you and your little outdoor enthusiasts will be happy as larks strolling through their buildings and meandering along the scenic trails. Enjoy!

When was the last time you visited the Audubon Society?

– Liz Overson

The Audubon Society of Portland
5151 NW Cornell Rd
Portland, Or  97210

Thanks for the photos Tom Schmid, Elie Boas, Amy Cave and Audubon Society of Portland!

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