The magnificent pair of Osprey who nested and raised chicks for many seasons near The Independence Hotel.

Nothing quite marks the beginning of spring like the return of birdsong in the air, and at The Independence Hotel, we are treated to the varied songs of numerous bird species throughout the spring, summer and fall. In fact, we are full to the brim with bird watching opportunities. From wildlife refuges, to parks, online discussion groups, and supply stores, we at The Independence have got you covered when it comes to all things avian!

The casual bird watcher can sit on the hotel’s rooftop, or walk the riverfront trails and appreciate the graceful swoops and musical calls. But, for those who want to maximize the experience, follow our pro tips! First, make sure you have proper gear. Binoculars are a must, field guides can be helpful, and comfortable clothes are of the utmost importance. You want shoes you can walk in, plus a brimmed hat and rain jacket to keep up with the ever-changing PNW weather. For more information on how to prepare for your bird watching adventure, check out the Salem Audubon Society.

Wilson’s Warbler – photo by Jim Leonard at Baskett Slough on Salem Audobon FB.

Cinnamon Teal Duck – photo by Jim Leonard at Baskett Slough on Salem Audobon FB.

When you’re ready for your adventure, The Independence is located nearby not just one but TWO national nature refuges.  Baskett Slough is a fifteen-minute drive from the hotel, and as an important shorebird migratory stopover, it’s one of the best valley locations for spotting black-necked stilts. Other species include waterfowl, waders, hummingbirds, nighthawks, mourning doves, and various raptors (from bald eagles to great-horned owls). In addition, you can follow the sweet songs of passerines like the Western Bluebird and Black-capped Chickadee.

Black Necked Stilts at Baskett Slough

Great Horned Owl – photo by Jim Leonard at Baskett Slough on Salem Audobon FB.

Just a little further, about 20-minutes from the hotel, you’ll come across Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. Established in the 60’s as a habitat for Dusky Canada Geese (over 32,000 have been counted roosting there), Ankeny is home to dozens of others bird species throughout the year as well. From Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, to Yellow Warblers and Willow Flycatchers. There are several pathways to explore, so choose your own adventure depending on your timeline.

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

Dusky Canada Geese at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

In nearby Salem, Minto-Brown Island Park offers a sanctuary for local wetland species such as Osprey and Blue Heron. With about thirty miles of trails though, cue the comfy shoes! Wearing fancy shoes here will be both un-pheasant and hawk-ward (Sorry, I had to! I’ll try not to be a bird-in and drive you stork raven mad!) If you’re making a day of it, a newly constructed bridge connects Minto-Brown Park to Riverfront City Park in Salem.

Great Blue Heron at Minto Brown Island Park

Song Sparrow at Minto Brown Island Park

Finally, if you don’t feel like traveling or don’t have a car, that doesn’t mean you can’t get up close and personal with your avian friends. Grab your binoculars and head up to the rooftop at The Independence, from there you will often see local Osprey, Eagles, and countless others.

For more sources on bird watching ad fun for the whole family, check out these resources:

  1. Birding Bingo Card (located on Page 2)
  2. Salem Area Birding Checklist
  3. Oregon Birders Online

Bird Species to Look for Near Independence

Yellow Warbler

Black Capped Chickadee

Evening Grosbeck

Fox Sparrow

Western Bluebird


Streaked Horned Lark

Hooded Merganser

Osprey with a Fish