Portland is one of the nation’s best places to get a view of urban raptors year-round.
By Elise Herron
Portland is known for many things—weed, beer, bikes, coffee. But one lesser-known thing the city's teeming with? Raptors.
"Invariably, whenever I'm downtown, I can find a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead within minutes," says Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland. "I'm always reminding people to just look up."
Sallinger says Portland is one of the nation's best places to get a view of urban raptors year-round. Breeding pairs of peregrine falcons, which were considered critically endangered before 1999, can be seen hanging out under the Fremont Bridge in the morning. Cooper's hawks are often found in backyard feeders. Bald eagles make nests on Sauvie Island, and screech and barred owls roam most city neighborhoods.
But not all raptor encounters have to happen by chance.
At the Wildlife Care Center, which is home to the nation's first wildlife hospital, visitors can watch raptor operations through observation windows or view some of the center's non-releasable birds of prey in their natural habitat. Employees at the Portland International Airport can help relocate birds of prey that get in the way of airplanes.
And Oregonians with crops or buildings they want to protect from smaller pesky birds can hire a falconer to bring a big raptor out to do the job—like the city of Portland has done with the crows invading downtown.
"It's amazing how much bird diversity can be seen in Portland just by keeping your eyes open," Sallinger says.