Refuge visitor center will reopen: Come take a look
"Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries." —Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. president
The visitor center at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and Nature's Overlook will have a grand reopening on April 30 with new merchandise for browsing and shopping. The outside Spring Market is canceled since visitors can shop inside that weekend. Hours on the weekend, April 30 and May 1, will be 10 am. to 4 pm. Hours May 3-6 will be 10 a.m. to 1 pm. Starting May 7, the store will be open regular hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed on Mondays.
Friends members get 10% off of their purchases, so if you aren't already a member of the Friends of the Refuge, consider joining the next time you visit. The organization is a group of hard-working of volunteers who have accomplished many things for the refuge. Members enjoy sharing their knowledge, talents and love for nature. They help protect wildlife and habitat to insure recreation for the future.
We look forward to the return of an in-person native plant sale and bird festival in 2023.
Did you know May is prime time for songbirds? Many have begun nesting while others are setting up their territories. As you walk the refuge trails, look for lazuli buntings in grasslands, black-headed grosbeaks and western tanagers in the forest, and common yellowthroats in wetland margins. Shorebirds continue to migrate through and killdeer may start nesting on the refuge.
If you're not sure what these birds look like, stop by the Nature Store. It has a wide selection of bird guides to fit every level of bird watching and knowledgeable volunteers to answer your questions.
The seasonal trail will reopen May 1 and will give visitors the opportunity to see the Chicken Creek restoration. The project completed this year returned the creek to its original two-mile meandering natural system. The project also restored over 280 aces to wetland habitat. These changes will bring in even more wildlife and birds.
Last year, the refuge installed 12 purple martin nest boxes in the middle of the wetland, which are visible with binoculars from the viewing platform. This year additional boxes will be put up for the birds and offer up close views of the brilliant purple swallows, the largest swallows in North America.
The birds rely almost entirely on human made structures for nesting, which are designed specifically to keep out European starlings, the martins' main habitat competitor. The boxes are painted white to keep them at a cooler temperature for the birds.
The refuge plans to add additional nesting boxes in places where the birds can easily be seen by visitors. Purple martins have been seen exploring the boxes, so watch for the birds to arrive in June and stay until September when they return to their winter home in South America.
Pam Faris is a member of Friends of the Refuge
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