Monday, June 6, 2011

Pumice Springs

A small oasis located on the east side of Pine Mountain. Fenced off to protect the fragile habitat, Pumice Springs attracts song birds and wildlife to its two open water sources. Pumice (from Newberry Volcano or nearby Pine Mountain?) blankets the ground.

The surrounding woodlands are a mix of western juniper, lodgepole and ponderosa pine. Directly east, sits a B.P.A. substation, a stark reminder of the land's use.

But on this day, it is just me, the substation's hum, and singing birds. Black-throated gray warblers call from the nearby woods, a lone olive-sided flycatcher utters his "Quick three beers" song, western and mountain bluebirds tussle over nest boxes and Cassin's finches litter the ground.

The bluebirds do not reflect their "bluebirds of happiness" moniker. The two species go at each other like a MMA contest. Tree swallows perch on nearby wires watching the spectacle and, perhaps, hoping to usurp one of the boxes for their own.

Lark and chipping sparrows join the finches foraging on the ground and a constant flight of yellow, yellow-rumped and Wilson's warblers, red crossbills, a lone female Bullock's oriole, and others beg for some traffic control.

The springs are not large, but they are bird magnets. Nearby Sand Springs is also fenced off, but a constant parade of logging trucks detracts from the birding. A thinning project in the Deschutes National Forest keeps this area active, so I head elsewhere in search of solitude and solitaires.

Deschutes County Big Year: 169 species.


  1. Would you say either Pumice springs or Sand springs is suitable for bird photography? Are there any blinds there? Thanks!

  2. Although there isn't a blind at Pumice Springs or Sand Springs, there are some good opportunities for photography. You could use a portable blind, vehicle or sit quietly in a chair and let the birds return. Sometimes the fences can get in the way of photos...