Call of the Wild

Pearl Magazine Audubon Owl Portland

Did you know that one of the Pacific Northwest’s best wildlife resources is right in your backyard?

Just a 10-minute drive from the bustling Pearl District, you can commune with nature in a setting so tranquil and lush, you’d think you were hundreds of miles from the city. Surrounded by a 172-acre wildlife sanctuary that fringes vast Forest Park, Portland Audubon (5151 NW Cornell Rd, 503-292-6855, is a place for meditative woodland strolls and prolific bird-watching. It’s home to a fantastic nature store and interpretive center. And it provides critical care to injured and orphaned native wildlife. It’s truly a portal to the city’s incredible natural surroundings.

“A lot of people don’t know that we have 4 miles of trails in the sanctuary—that we’re part of such a vast wildlife green space.”

“A lot of people don’t know that we have 4 miles of trails in the sanctuary—that we’re part of such a vast wildlife green space,” says Charles Milne, director of development.

Kids and adults love to see the sanctuary’s education animals, which currently include a common raven, a western painted turtle, a turkey vulture, a great horned owl, and an American kestrel. These creatures were rescued and rehabilitated—often after well-intended but misguided individuals attempted to domesticate them—but are no longer able to survive in the wild. “We give them homes,” says Milne. “And they help us to tell visitors why it’s never good for animals to take them from the wild.”

“We’re an incredible resource for urban birding and native wildlife.”

“We’re an incredible resource for urban birding and native wildlife,” says Milne. If you find a bird nesting on your balcony or come upon an injured wild animal, you can call the center’s hotline (503-292-0304) for advice. And there’s great information on the website about everything from planting a wildlife-friendly garden to protecting birds from flying into your windows. Portland Audubon also presents excellent education programs and events.

Portland Audubon Bird Sanctuary

The center is a just short drive or bike ride up Lovejoy and then 1½ miles further on Cornell Road. Or hike here through gorgeous Balch Creek Canyon from the Lower Macleay Trailhead at Thurman and 27th. The sanctuary’s trails—the shortest is just .6 miles—run beside rippling creeks, through vibrant bird habitats, and beneath young and old-growth conifers. The grounds and buildings are free and open daily.

You can help through volunteering and donations, and by shopping at Portland Audubon’s excellent nature store, which carries bird feeders, binoculars, field guides, and much more. The organization also presents the annual Wild Arts Festival for details and tickets) held Nov 23–24 in the Pearl at Pure Space (1315 NW Overton St). It’s a wonderful opportunity to buy nature-related artwork, books, and gifts—all proceeds go toward Portland Audubon’s valuable programs and conservation efforts.

By Andrew Collins | Photo Courtesy Portland Audubon