Colorful Birds at Hagelstein Park - Explore! Colorful Birds at Hagelstein Park - Explore!

Colorful Birds at Hagelstein Park

Hagelstein County Park . . .

Hagelstein County Park

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch – Goldfinches are found year round in the Klamath Basin but brightly colored males show up most dramatically during the spring and summer breeding period. Females are a drab dull yellow or almost gray bird nesting in brushy locations.

Hagelstein Park is about 10 miles north of Klamath Falls, Oregon on the east side of US-97.   The 5-acre park offers modern restrooms (although they were out of order at the time of my visit), drinking water, 10 camping spots and boat access to Upper Klamath Lake, all adjacent to a  pond fed by Barkley Spring. It is a noisy place being immediately adjacent to U.S. Highway 97.  There is a sign and turn lanes, but the park is easy to miss.  Your GPS unit can help (42˚ 22.931 N, 121˚ 48.782 W). The park is best known to those who need a rest stop and to birders.  It’s Stop 13 on the Klamath Basin Birding Trail and is renowned for its green herons, Forster’s terns, black-crowned night-herons, belted kingfishers, golden-crowned sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, nashville warblers, and orange-crowned warblers that are often seen here.  If you are a birder and your explorations are associated with discovering new birds for your life list, this is a surprisingly rich place to visit.  I was able to capture white-crowned sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, a black-billed magpie and the ubiquitous American robin in the video (below).  I also saw a kingfisher and a great egret during my visit.

Colorful Birds

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting – Lazuli Buntings are another species which arrives in the basin about the first week in May. They occupy and nest in brushy areas where they often escape notice. The male in brreding plumage is a bright electric blue while the female is an overall dull grey brown color. This species migrated south for the winter and is usually not seen here after mid September.

In this article, we are featuring the small but colorful migrating birds that are seen at Hagelstein County Park each spring and summer.  Many of these birds are Neotropical migrants meaning they spend the winters as far south as Mexico and Central America but breed in the northern latitudes to take advantage of longer days during the summer breeding season. Their descriptive names like Yellow-rumped Warbler, Lazuli Bunting and Purple Finch are as colorful as the bright plumage normally found only on the breeding males. Colorful, yes; easily seen?; usually not!  Not only are these birds quite small, but they often move through the branches of trees or dense brush so rapidly that they may escape notice unless one is very patient and persistent.  Your persistence will define the amount of time you spend at the park. Many of these small birds are found in trees such as willows and cottonwoods that grow along the water’s edge.  Some arrive as early as late February like the colorful Yellow-rumped Warbler, but most of these song birds start arriving from mid April or early May and leave the Klamath Basin during September

Bullocks Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole – Look for this bright orange dazzler (the male) and the slightly less colorful all yellow female to arrive in the Klamath Basin in early May. They are most often seen in cottonwood and willow trees where they construct their distinctive hanging nests.

If you have the patience, persistence and a good pair of binoculars, Hagelstein County Park is a great location to search for these colorful song birds.  All of the bird photos shown here and used in the video were taken by Dave Menke at the park. The springs,  the trees, and the nearby brushy slope attract these birds and many others.

More Information

A few other locations to search for these small, colorful birds in the Upper Klamath Basin include:

  • The Link River, Moore Park and Wingwatchers trails which are all located within the Klamath Falls City limits
  • Collier State Park near Chiloquin
  • Wood River Day Use Area or Wood River Wetlands near Fort Klamath
  • Rocky Point and Malone Springs along the west side of Upper Klamath Lake
  • Lake of the Woods
  • Odessa Creek Campground
  • Juanita Lake Campground near Butte Valley
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Big Springs Park near Bonanza
Purple Finch

Purple Finch – Purple Finches are found in the Klamath Basin year round but are most often seen during the summer months in areas of heavy brush. The female is an entirely mottled grey/brown and white bird of the size and appearance of most sparrows.

Visit the Klamath Basin Birding Trail web site for detailed descriptions of 47 of the best birding locations found in the Upper Klamath Basin.  Klamath Basin Wingwatchers, with support from the Klamath County Commissioners, developed the website as well as a beautiful booklet about the birding trail and the birds of the area.  You can purchase the booklet at the KLMS Store, read it online, or download a free PDF version.


Hagelstein County Park RatingAt five acres,  it’s a small area to explore.  Still with the birds, there are a few things to discover.  The view to the east includes the walls of the giant block fault that created the valley floor.  There are spectacular views across Upper Klamath Lake to the west, unfortunately they are blocked by the embankments of Highway 97.  For variety, we have the pond, the birds, the spring along with some nice fall colors.  There is an historical marker about the nice people that made the park possible.  Kids can run around and explore.  I suppose they could go swimming.  Overall the key factor that lowers the rating on this place is the highway noise.  Overall I gave Hagelstein County Park a 2.6 on our scale of 1 to 10.  However,  if you are a birder looking for these birds, that outweighs anything!


Most of the text and all of the bird photos and captions are by Dave Menke,  Recreation Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Jerry Haugen, Pathfinder, shot the park photo, edited the story, added text and produced the video.  The music is a track called “Mist” from BackTraxx published by Digital Juice, used under license.  ©2010 Global Creations LLC.  All rights reserved.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager – Easily one of the most beautiful birds to be found here. Western Tanagers are usually found in or near pine forests. They arrive about the first week in May and many nest in the Klamath Basin. Females vary in color from all bright yellow to drab yellow green.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler – One of the earliest migrants, Yellow-rumped warblers begin arriving in the Klamath basin as early as late February. They seem to disappear in the mid-summer but actually most are just nesting at higher elevations. During the spring and fall hundreds of these small, colorful and highly active birds may be seen moving through areas of heavy brush gleaning insects as they go.


2 Responses to “Colorful Birds at Hagelstein Park”

  1. Pathfinder says:

    Dave Menke died unexpectedly on April 28, 2011. Dave was instrumental in developing birding in the Klamath Basin. I worked with him on a number of projects to enhance the recreation experience in this area, including development of the Klamath Basin Birding Trail. Dave was a great person and is missed.


  2. Dave Menke says:


    Great job. I would like to do several more of these for sites along the Klamath basin birding Trail.


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