Bundle up & bring your binoculars! The Deschutes River Trail offers wide, paved walkways right along the river, with great viewing for all sorts of birds – from green-headed Mallards & punk-crested Mergansers swimming nearshore, to dazzling blue Scrub Jays posing fearlessly in trees right along the pathway.
Who would think there would be such a variety of birds to see, just steps from Bend’s “Mill District” shopping area! We ventured out with friends on a blustery day in February. In just an hour’s leisurely stroll around the waterfront, we also saw Ring-necked Ducks, Scaups, Coots, Goldeneyes, Canada Geese, and even a Golden-crowned Sparrow almost at our feet.
The meandering walkway further charms with eye-catching art murals, bewitching tunnels, decorative bridges draped with fluttering flags, & historic interpretive signs along the way. When it warms up, there is outside dining at many restaurants bordering the walkway.
It’s a wonderfully scenic stroll, with plenty of room for passing joggers, dog-walkers, folks in wheelchairs, baby carriages, & bird-watcher/photographers like us! Public restrooms are nearby – adjacent to “Sisters Coffee” shop, and just down from Karen Eland’s most delightful “Greetings from Bend Oregon” mural which is immensely popular for selfie photos to send to family & friends! Nearby street parking is free – either off SW Reed Market Road, or in the shopping area.
Don’t miss the “Colorado Bridge Tunnel Mural” by Sandy Klein, with cheerfully painted birds on both sides! One side includes an osprey, with real osprey nest high on a pole just beyond. The other wall has one of my favorite birds – a Kingfisher with a fish. It is a female Kingfisher because she wears a reddish-brown belt (which the male doesn’t have).
Interestingly a few steps beyond that is a notable Kingfisher site by some divine little waterfalls, where you can see a sculptural kingfisher “hunting snag” (created by Andrew Wachs & Dylan Woock). Be sure to watch for kingfishers there!
For more on Kingfishers, check out the new award-winning book “Halcyon Journey – In Search of the Belted Kingfisher” by Bend birder/nature writer – Marina Richie. Her book won the 2022 National Outdoor Book Award, & celebrates the Belted Kingfisher as our “Ambassador for Saving Wild Waterways.”