Posted by: atowhee | May 15, 2018



I recently drove from Yamhill County to Chico, CA and back.  Most of that driving was along our beloved I-5.  It is a round trip of over 900 miles.   Not only did I play the music loud enough to drown out the car air conditioner’s noise, l but I did an informal census of Osprey nest sites along the way.  I only found one platform not in use.

Here’s what I found, and you can find them, too, even if you don’t own my Freeway Birding book.

There were two active nests in Marion County.  One is on the east bank of the Willamette River where the Wheatland Ferry crosses, just north of Willamette Mission State Park.  The second one is a half mile east of there where the ferry access road terminates at Wheatland Road NE.   Here a heron passes over the nest at the ferry landing:OSP--WHTLND

The next nest I noted is south of the I-5 bridge over the McKenzie River.  This is at the north edge of Eugene’s urban sprawl, around MP 197.  It is east of the freeway and is a large pile of sticks that has been built over several nesting seasons.  It is also on a pole that is twice as tall as any other noted platform along this route.

Further south there is a nest north of Milepost 171, west of I-5.  This is south of Cottage Grove but still in Lane County and the Willamette drainage system.

In southern Douglas County the freeway closely parallels the South Umpqua River on and off for some miles.  West of I-5 there is a lumber mill just north of Milepost 113, and the Ospreys nest on a pole near the mill entrance and alongside the river.  Then less than two miles further south there is another Osprey nest east of I-5.  It is south of the freeway river bridge just beyond Milepost 112.

Then in Canyonville you can exit for the best Rest Area along I-5 in Oregon, and then drive north on Stanton Park Road.  About a half-mile north of the park itself there is a nest east of the road near the river, still the South Umpqua.  The freeway is elevated above the flood plain here and I have not succeeded in seeing this nest while on I-5 itself.  Coning from the north you can use Exit 101 and then take Stanton Park Road south on the east side of the freeway.  Here is the Stanton Park Road nest:OSP STANTON RD

I have not found any freeway accessible Osprey nests in the Rogue Valley.

In northern California there are two freeway-side nests in Shasta County.  Northbound traffic has a vista pull-out around Milepost 696.  It affords the camera-ready views of Mt. Shasta.  The Osprey nest here is on an electric line pylon due north of the pull-out and high above the Sacramento River at the bottom of the gorge.  It is not visible from the southbound lanes which are far up the hill and separate from the northbound lanes.

At Milepost 690 there is an exit for the Shasta Resort.  On the east side of the freeway there is an Osprey nest up the steep mountainside.  It is most easily viewed as you take the exit off-ramp northbound.

All the nests I noted used man-made platforms.  If you exit I-5 hear Hornbrook, CA, and drive east up the Klamath River gorge toward Irongate Lake you will note a number of platforms and many will be in use in spring…by Canada Geese.  At least one spring Jackson County birders noted a long-time Osprey nest platform near Emigrant Lake southeast of Ashland had been commandeered by a p[air of Great Horned Owls.

Travel note: Collier Rest Area on I-5 in Siskiyou County, CA, is closed…but you can still bird the area from across the Klamath River.  It will not re-open until late August but the Lewis’s Woodpeckers are there, nesting as they do every year.


Mt. Shasta is the most stunning creature on earth.  You can have your Fuji, your Vesuvius, your Volcan Cotopaxi, your Pike’s Peak or Mont Blanc or any Himalayan mighty mountain or even Kilimanjaro.  For sheer moody beauty, for outstanding in its surroundings, for killer attractiveness (climb me if you dare), I will take Shasta.  Generations and various cultures have imbued this volcano with grander, more mystical powers.  I say its rock-hard reality is plenty to contemplate.  It may look serene and shy behind a cloud shroud, or glow brightly as its peak peeks through swirling gray puffs.  Yet deep inside its living molten heart bubbles the next mountain manifesto.  In her own good time Shasta will explode with her own inimitable truths that nobody alive at that moment can contradict.  While her seven glaciers now keep things cool to the eye, to the foot, they, too, will melt away leaving Shasta’s great strength and intentions.  Her music will be the original rock and roll of the earth’s own core. Behold and be humble, ye passers-by.  You pass at Shasta’s pleasure, or simply her indifference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: