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Elk Head CONSERVATION
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Willamette Valley Grassland Program
Grassland Birds

Reports and Publications (pdfs)

Grassland birds in the Willamette Valley are in trouble. With less than one percent of the area’s historic prairie habitats remaining, the grassland species are declining. While it is impossible to recover the lost prairies, many of these birds can live alongside people if the existing habitat, e.g. grasslands, fallow fields and pastureland is suitable. Grassland species of concern include:

Western Medowlark Western Meadowlark

Oregon’s state bird has become particularly rare in the Willamette Valley. It is known for its bubbly, flute-like song.
Grasshopper Sparrow Grasshopper Sparrow

Named for their insect-like song, grasshopper sparrows hop and run on the ground, occasionally flitting to the top of a fence post to sing before retreating again to the grasses.
Vesper Sparrow Oregon Vesper Sparrow

The sweet, tinkling song of the Oregon vesper sparrow can often be heard long after most other birds have ended the day, hence the name vesper.
Streaked Horned Lark Streaked Horned Lark

A striking bird with tinkling notes and black “horns” that prefers short sparsely vegetated prairies, agricultural fields and gravelly roadsides with short vegetation. 
Short-eared Owl Short-eared Owl

This owl, which prefers open country, weedy fields, wet meadows and grasslands, is one of the rarest breeding grassland birds in the Willamette Valley today.
Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

This nighthawk is most active at dusk, where it may be observed catching insects on the wing.  Common nighthawks do not build nests, but lay their eggs on gravel bars, mudflats or sparsely vegetated areas close to or within grasslands.
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