Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge eases gently into the holiday season

Take a break from the holiday buying frenzy and visit the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Even on a rainy day, there is always something to see. The wetlands are filling now and rain is providing countless puddles that ducks and geese take advantage of for foraging. A few tundra swans may stop for a visit. You may see some great blue herons and maybe an occasional great egret. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons will be hunting waterfowl and northern harriers will patrol the fields and wetlands searching for an easy meal. If you come early, you may see deer, a mink or coyote on the trail.SUBMITTED PHOTO - The store at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge has Christmas gifts galore.

Drop-in Exploration Day -- Wilderness Survival Skills: 10 a.m. to noon, Dec. 1

Join us for activities and crafts in our environmental education classroom in the visitor center. Explore the animals and plants that call our refuge home. All ages welcome. Themes will rotate on a monthly basis. No registration required. Stay as long as you like within the two-hour time frame.

Tualatin River Photo Society: 7 p.m. Dec. 5

Guest speaker will be Andrew Studer, a commercial photographer and timelapse cinematographer based in Portland. Andrew has a passion for the outdoors and is constantly seeking out adventure and unique and engaging ways to capture what he sees. His work has been featured in National Geographic, CBS news, BBC and many others.

Waterfowl Watch 101: 10 a.m. to noon, Dec. 7

Join a U.S Fish and Wildlife biologist to learn birdwatching techniques. Build your skills with bird watching tools and tips, practice identifying waterfowl and then walk on the refuge to see them in the wild. Please bring binoculars and a bird guide if you have them; loaners will be available. This event is open to all skill levels. For more information, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Holiday open house: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 7

If the holiday ads, jingles and commercials of the past few weeks are driving you crazy, join us for a relaxing start to the holidays. Stop by Nature's Overlook. Friends of the Refuge members will receive a 20 percent discount. If you're not a member you can join that day. The store will offer free gift-wrapping and cookies. The store will also participate in the Sherwood 4 Kids Sake's toy drive. You can purchase items to fulfill the wishes of individual children and leave the gifts to be picked up and delivered.

If you have a reader or readers in your family, the store offers more than 200 titles. You will find books about nature, field guides for birds, trees, insects and mammals. The selection also includes books on Oregon geology, stargazing, regional history and ways to get kids outside to learn what nature has to offer. In addition, you will find many books for children for bedtime reading, learning about nature and stuffed animals to accompany the books.

Looking for a stocking stuffer or a party gift? The store has you covered. There are women's fashion scarves in beautiful patterns and colors. Check out the rain jackets and hats to keep you warm and nature themed socks with otters, ravens and beavers, to keep your feet warm. And puzzles – three-piece puzzles for 2- to 4-year-olds, round puzzles for a bit of a challenge, 100- to 1,008-piece puzzles for a rainy night in front of the fireplace,

Creatures of the Night Nature Table: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Dec. 11

This program will be held at Sherwood Public Library, 22560 S.W. Pine St. Learn about the creatures that take over once the sun goes down. Check out specimens such as pelts, skulls and skeletons. Dissect an owl pellet and identify the bones you find or make an owl mask to take home with you.

Annual Christmas Bird Count: Dec. 16

The National Audubon Society invites birdwatchers to participate in the longest running citizen science survey, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Birders and nature enthusiasts are invited to join the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge for this fourth annual CBC.

Each year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,400 locations across the western hemisphere. The CBC utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled for the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge CBC will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast citizen science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years.

Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to the fun, nationwide citizen science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. Volunteers and compilers count in each circle. The volunteers break into small parties and follow assigned routes counting every bird they see.

There is no fee to participate. Please contact Refuge biologist Curt Mykut at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. to sign up for the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count.

Pam Farris is a member of Friends of the Refuge

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