The rich diversity of vegetation, geology, and climate in far northern California make these areas a haven for hundreds of bird species. The Klamath Refuges in eastern Siskiyou County are home to the largest concentration of Bald Eagle in the lower 48 states. Wetlands abound with waterfowl migrating on the Pacific Flyway during the spring and fall. The free-flowing section of the Klamath River are especially rich in year-round wildlife. Siskiyou County offers excellent birding opportunities for the casual wildlife watcher as well as avid birders.
BUTTE VALLEY NATIONAL GRASSLAND
The Butte Valley National Grassland is 18,425 acres in size and is easily visited along U.S. Route 97, between the communities of Macdoel and Dorris. The Grassland is home to the Swainson’s hawk, golden eagle, bald eagle, merlin, and sandhill crane. Winter residents include the red-tailed hawk, ferruginous hawk, rough-legged hawk, northern harrier, American kestrel, and prairie falcon. Nocturnal species you may get a chance to see at dawn or dusk include great horned owls, short-eared owls, and long-eared owls. The landscape is dominated by sagebrush, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, basin wildrye, intermediate wheatgrass, and many other arid grasses and flowers. Western juniper is the only tree, scattered along the Grassland. The area is east of Meiss Lake and the Butte Valley Wildlife Area, administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
There are no designated recreation sites within Butte Valley National Grassland. However, a pleasant drive is available through the grassland. From Macdoel, go north 5.1 miles to Meiss Lake Sam's Neck Road. Follow that road west 4.9 miles, through the Grassland, to Indian Point Road. Go north along Indian Point Road for 4.6 miles, and admire the low rock bluffs on the west side. The sharp turn at Indian Point is a scenic spot to park and see the windmill. At Richardson Road, go east 5.2 miles back to Route 97, one mile south of Dorris. If coming from Dorris, simply take Richardson Road west to Indian Point Road, go south, and then return east on Meiss Lake Sam's Neck Road.
Nearby Klamath National Forest campgrounds include Juanita Lake and Martins Dairy (to the west from Ball Mountain Little Shasta Road), and Shafter and Orr Lake Campgrounds to the south (from Forest Road 8Q01).
LOWER KLAMATH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is the Nation's first waterfowl refuge. Theodore Roosevelt reserved 81,619 acres of lakes and marshes along the California-Oregon border in 1908 as a preserve and breeding grounds for native birds. This refuge is home to the largest wintering bald eagle concentration in the Lower 48 states. August and September are peak months for viewing pelicans, egrets herons and grebes. An estimated one to two million ducks and geese migrate through the basin each Fall and Spring.
TULE LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the fertile and intensely farmed Tule Lake Basin of northeastern California. It was established in 1928 by President Calvin Coolidge as a preserve and breeding ground for wild birds and animals. This 39,116-acre refuge is mostly open water and crop land. Approximately 17,000 acres are leased by potato, onion, horse radish, alfalfa, and cereal grains within the Public Lease Lands program, administered by the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. Permit holders farm an additional 1,900 acres in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge is a significant staging area for migrating waterfowl during spring and fall migrations. It is used primarily by whitefronted, snow, Ross, and cackling Canada geese, all of which nest in the Arctic tundra. Tule Lake hunting opportunities consist of two large marsh units accessible by boats, a spaced-blind hunt in dry fields, and open free-roam areas offering field hunts over harvested grain and smaller marsh units. A 10-mile auto tour route allows for wildlife observation throughout the year.