If you’re lucky their shrieks may just blend in with the birds.

Getting There:

How to Dress:
Because you’ll be spending a majority of your time hiking, sturdy and comfortable shoes are a necessity. Being outside, it’s advisable to wear layers and bring along an extra jacket in case the weather turns for the better or worse.

What to see:
Start your bird watching right as you enter the park by heading first to the Wildlife Care Center, located in the building to the right of the parking lot. Your little bird watchers will delight in the up-close and personal encounters with falcons, owls, kestrels – even baby turtles and ducklings when nature allows! If you’re lucky, you may catch one of the staff members bringing a bird out of its enclosure in order to answer questions and let little ones have an up close and personal view.

As you head out the back door of the Wildlife Care Center, you’re greeted by a path that winds through large birds in outdoor enclosures, among them a black turkey vulture named Ruby.

From there, head down the trail a bit more and explore the more than four miles of leafy pathways teaming with chickadees, Stellar Jays, and Douglas Squirrels, among other wildlife. Throw your map away and let your little wilderness explorers determine where to take the next left or right as they romp down the trails. Paths are marked and easy loops make finding your way back a snap. The longest trail is a little over 1.3 miles, with most being only about a half a mile long.

On your way back, stop in at the nature store and take a look out the large picture window as birdfeeders attract a variety of Northwest birds. Flip books with pictures help little birders identify which feathered friends they’re seeing out the window.

Find it:
About a mile and a half west from the intersection of NW 23rd Street and Lovejoy, located in Forest Park. For the adventurous, the Audubon website has directions on how to hike to the nature reserve from the Lower Macleay Trail, but at 45 minutes, this hike may be best reserved for the older set.

When to go:
Portland’s Audubon Society is open seven days a week from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, 365 days a year.

Tickets:
Free (Sweet!)

Where to Grab a Bite:
Pack a lunch and picnic at the pavilion, located just up the main trail. Here your kids can enjoy finding salamanders and turtles swimming in the pond and tree frogs among the leafy undergrowth. If you meander a little ways past the pond you’ll find a land locked “river” with trout.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, NW 23rd is just a few short blocks downhill and offers up a variety of kid-friendly restaurants, among them Elephants Deli, Escape from New York Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop.

Insider tip:
If you ask one of the personnel at the Wildlife Center to bring an educational bird out for a closer look, they’ll often comply if the center is not too busy.
Summer camps are available and open now, starting with first graders on up.

Audubon Society of Portland
5151 NW Cornell Raod
Portland, Or
Phone: 503-292-6855
Online: audubonportland.org
— Laurie Halter