Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Respite Within the City

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On the outskirts of Portland sits 1,850 acres of woods and wetlands. This is one of only 10 places of its kind in the entire country—a wildlife refuge in an urban setting.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a natural classroom encircled with meandering gravel pathways that allow visitors to wander by ponds and slow-moving waterways that are home to a vast number of critters including nutria and turtles. This vast floodplain is also where 200 species of birds spend part or all of the year. It’s common to spot Canadian geese, osprey, ducks, blackbirds and herons nesting in the thickets of coniferous and deciduous trees or even resting along the banks.

We spied this heron standing like a statue for over a minute before creeping one step toward his intended lunch. Another minute passed before he took another deliberate step. Without question, he’d mastered hunting’s three most important skills: determination, skill and patience. No one would ever accuse him of eating “fast food.”

If you enjoyed this story in our series, we invite you to check out another story about the vineyards just outside of Portland and  our travel books.