Birders will use bikes to find more species along Columbia Slough

Posted by on May 13th, 2022 at 7:31 am

A heron at the side of a river and two men in inset photo looking at the sky.

A heron in the Columbia Slough – Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland. Inset photo: Ryan Gilpin and Thomas Meinzen – Courtesy Columbia Slough Watershed Council

A pair of bird lovers will hop on bikes this Sunday for a novel fundraiser.

Ryan Gilpin and Thomas Meinzen with the nonprofit Columbia Slough Watershed Council will embark on their ‘Biking Big Day’ to see how many bird species they can find in one day.

The main channel of the Columbia Slough runs east-west for 19 miles between Troutdale and the north Portland peninsula. It’s home to over 175 bird species and is a wonderful and convenient escape from the city that’s one of the region’s classic bike routes.


Their route.

CSWC has a bird walk program that Gilpin and Meinzen help lead. Their bike ride this weekend will raise funds to keep that program going. Their route (above) will take them on a loop through northeast Portland neighborhoods to Smith and Bybee Lakes, along the Columbia River, and out to Kelley Point Park. Anyone who wants to donate to their cause can pledge per species or just donate a flat amount.

If you’d like to pledge, visit this website where you can enter your info.

If you want to learn more about the Slough and the CSWC, they’re hosting a big 20th anniversary celebration on Saturday, May 21st at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park.

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Had a blue heron land on my patio roof one time. Scared the you know what out of me when I heard it land on the metal roofing. Then saw its feet, those pretty scary too! Luckily I moved slowly and was able to view it for about a 1/2 minute until it flew on.
Quite a great experience!
(I know, not bike related, but the picture of the heron triggered the memory)


Of course! Birding by bike is very enjoyable. I used to lead rides for the Portland Audubon Birdathon in town (for families – I even have a Birding Bingo game sheet for those trips) and out to Sauvie Island (for more serious birders)by bike. It’s easy to hear birds and stop quickly to confirm sightings so it’s far better than driving in my book. Their route should be quite fruitful (but I’m sure they know that). Wishing them success on their Big Day!


I will try not to let Marcy Houle know. We should probably do at least a 40 year study to understand the impacts on migrations these cyclists will have on the birds. Also, that close to the water? Probably kill a few salmon while they are out on that ride.