Tualatin River National Wildife Refuge is full of signs of spring at this time of year

FOR THE REGAL COURIER: PAM FARRIS - A trillium blooming in all its glory is a sure sign of spring and offers the promise of good weather ahead."Spring won't let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again."

The quote is courtesy of Gustav Mahler and is particularly appropriate for water-logged Oregonians this spring.

April has arrived at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge with its warmer weather and longer days. The shorebirds are coming into the mudflats to forage, and the air is alive with the songs and calls of songbirds.

Those who have a sudden desire to get outside should consider coming to the refuge. It offers a trail that meanders through the oak savanna to the river overlook and continues through the riparian forest to the wetlands observation deck.

Benches are available along the trail to provide a place to sit and soak up the sounds and smells of nature and provide a perfect way to beat the blues.

The refuge also is offering a variety of activities for those looking for something to do. Celebrate Earth Day at the refuge and buy native plants for your garden. Take a class and walk to learn about waterfowl; come to the photo society meeting and learn how to photograph nature; or join a work party and help improve the environment.

Waterfowl Watch

Waterfowl Watch takes place Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to noon, when visitors can build their skills with bird-watching tools and tips, practice identifying waterfowl and then walk on the refuge to see them in the wild.

Guests are asked to bring binoculars and a bird guide if they have them, but loaners will be available. This event is open to all skill levels.

Owl Prowl

Owl Prowl takes place Wednesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Join owl enthusiast Seth Winkelhake and learn about this fascinating bird. Owls are outstanding hunters and remind us that nature is still very active after the sun goes down. Learn about the different owls that call the refuge home and their mysterious nocturnal lives.

Flashlights will be provided, and the event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information or to register, call 503-625-5944.

Tualatin River Photo Society

The Tualatin River Photo Society meets Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. in the Visitors' Center Riparian room (enter by side door).

The group offers speakers, photography assistance and sharing about photographing nature. In addition, there are meet-ups to photograph different aspects of nature. People are invited to come to a meeting and add their name to the mailing list. The society is open to photographers of all skill levels with any type of camera.

Second Saturday Work Party

A Second Saturday Work Party is set for Saturday, April 8, from 8:45 a.m. to noon. A project is chosen every month such as caring for trees, planting, removing invasive species, maintaining trails and so on.

Participants will meet at the refuge, 19255 S.W. Pacific Highway, Sherwood, at 8:45 a.m. to check in and go to the work site around 9 a.m. Snacks and work gloves will be provided. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and pants, plan for cold weather and rain, and bring a water bottle.

Puddle Stompers

Sessions of Puddle Stompers are set for Wednesday, April 12, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 18, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

This preschool environmental education program invites children and their families to spend time learning about the natural wonders of the refuge. Volunteer naturalists will lead nature crafts, share stories and guide hikes on refuge trails. The refuge supplies "froggy" raingear for the kids, but adults should bring their own.

Each date offers a different theme, so Puddle Stompers participants are encouraged to visit on multiple days. The program is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information or to register, call 503-625-5944.

Native Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration

A Native Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration is planned for Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a members-only pre-sale is set for Friday, April 21, from 4 to 6 p.m., although non-members can join at the pre-sale and take advantage of the event.

Stock up on native plants for the yard and bring the birds, bees, and butterflies into your garden this year which supply four times the nutrition exotic plants do. The plants for sale will be fully acclimated to the local area, and growing instructions will be included.

People may park at the refuge, 19255 S.W. Pacific Highway, Sherwood. There is no entry fee, and all purchases are cash and carry; credit cards are accepted, and volunteers will help you load your purchases.

Celebrate Earth Day with the plant sale, a restoration work party and fun activities for all ages.

Bio-swale Work Party

A Bio-swale Work Party is set for Friday, April 28, from 9 to 11 a.m. when everyone is invited to come to the refuge and help weed the bio-swale. Wear appropriate clothing for working in the dirt and sun, and make sure to bring water. No prior experience is required.

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