This page reveals the key to the birding hot spot color codes found on the map-guide as well as providing the recreationist with some additional helpful tools to make each experience on the island a great one.

Birding Hotspots

On the recreation map you will note six (6) colored bird icons: red, magenta, yellow, purple, green, and peach. A description of each birding hotspot site is provided below.

Please consult the recreation map to differentiate private from public land. If you are in a white zone -- you are trespassing. If you are in the green zone, you are required to have a parking permit.

RED:  Within less than a mile from the Warrior Rock Trailhead is Ruby Lake, a site where wetlands are being restored, so tread lightly. This is a great spot to observe a new, non-breeding flock of white pelicans, a bird normally only seen east of the Cascades or in the Klamath Lake area. While the flock can be seen elsewhere on the island, this may be as close as one gets without boating at Cunningham Lake.

MAGENTA:  This site is accessible to non-hunters May through September via the dike running perpendicular to Retenaar Road. It's a great spot for finding shorebirds in August and September around Racetrack Lake.

YELLOW:  Grassy Lake is brimming in the spring with great blue heron, egrets, and wood ducks in a water-lily laden pond. Nearby, Round Lake is often equally good for birding and is a great spot for a picnic and wildlife viewing.

PURPLE:  Oak Island is a popular place to observe song-birds.

GREEN:  This icon designates two hotspots on the west side of Reeder Road. Both are on private property, so park in the small gravel turn-outs on each side of the road near the zig-zag bend, and venture no further. One site is a stand of trees hosting a large, great blue heron rookery. It's best to go here in the winter when there are no leaves hiding the numerous nests. A little south of the rookery is a bald eagle nest. A spotting scope is recommended for observing the breeding pair. Do stay near your car since both species are quite sensitive to disturbances, especially during the breeding season.

PEACH:  Sandhill cranes love farm fields! If you want to see huge flocks from a close, but safe distance, go to the safe shoulder on the east side of Oak Island Road about midway to the gate. From the shoulder there is a large field that often hosts thousands of cranes and waterfowl during the late September to early-April season. This is private land, so venture no further than the shoulder.

Willamette Valley Bird Species Checklist


Helpful Weblinks


An annual membership to Big Decade Birder gives you access to over 400 challenging and educational birding quizzes. Become a member today!​

Learn helpful tips in Field Birding Fundamentals written by Greg Baker, an avid Sauvie Island birder and a regular instructor with Portland Audubon.


View and purchase professional photographs of the island and more by Portland photographer Gary Grossman at

Find more photographs from Kath Sheridan at http://sauvieislandimagescom


View Grant's Getaway special on Sauvie Island via Travel Oregon. Featured in the video are the majestic sandhill cranes.


Don't get stuck in mud! Be sure to consult a NOAA marine chart for water depths when boating the waters of Multnomah Slough or the Columbia River. Also be sure to check tide tables so you aren't left stranded in the middle of one of the island lakes.