Oregon Songbirds

Oregon Songbirds Photo Tour

Trip Dates: June 22 - 26, 2020

Fee: $2600

Deposit: $800 (leaving a $1800 balance due on March 22)

From: Bend, Oregon

Leaders: Matthew Studebaker

Target Group Size: 4 photographers

In the high desert of Oregon, Ponderosa pine forests give way to sagebrush flats and rocky buttes. A special mix of songbirds inhabit the region including Red Crossbill, Pinyon Jay, Western Tanager, and White-headed Woodpecker. We will spend time on the back forest roads to access a verity of habitats as well as visit water features which attract birds during the dry months of summer. 

Travel considerations: Fly to Portland, OR

Equipment: I recommend bringing a digital SLR with matching lens. On this workshop, the longer your lens the easier it will be to make outstanding photos. Although sometimes the birds come close enough for something as short as a 400mm, most of the time they feel more comfortable when photographers use something in the 500-800mm range.

Likely Species on the trip. Species in bold will be the easiest/most common -

  • Eared Grebe

  • Ruddy Duck

  • Cinnamon Teal

  • Black Tern

  • Long-billed Curlew

  • Whimbrel

  • Wilson’s Phalarope

  • California Quail

  • White-headed Woodpecker

  • Lewis' Woodpecker

  • Black-backed Woodpecker

  • Hairy Woodpecker

  • Northern Flicker

  • Mountain Chickadee

  • Pygmy Nuthatch

  • Rock Wren

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

  • Mountain Bluebird

  • Western Bluebird

  • Townsend's Solitaire

  • American Robin

  • Pinion Jay

  • Clark's Nutcracker

  • Western Tanager

  • Sage Thrasher

  • Green-tailed Towhee

  • Brewer's Sparrow

  • Sage Sparrow

  • Red Crossbill

  • Cassin's Finch

  • Yellow-headed Blackbird


What to pack

  • Boots: Hiking boots and comfortable socks.

  • Sunscreen and a hat

  • Jacket: You will want a coat for early mornings. When we are in the desert, temperatures will often soar into the upper 90's in the afternoon, so wear layers and be prepared for a variety of temperatures.

  • Any outer layers of clothing should be neutral colors, not white or very bright colors.

  • Blind: No need to bring your own. Blinds will be provided for you. I will have basic blind stools as well.

  • Camera Gear. Bring your longest lens. A landscape lens would be optional as we will travel through some beautiful country.

Cell Phones and Internet: The hotels have wifi, but cell signal drops off in most areas outside town.

Weather and Schedule:
Most days it will be common to wake up with temperatures in the lower 50's. Some afternoons we could easily see the 90's so dress in layers and be prepared for some temperature swings. We will use as much photograph-able light as we can each day, shooting sunrise through 10 am, and 4:00 pm to sunset. The hotel is a good 45 minutes from the primary photography destination. The night is short and mid-day is long so we will want to take an afternoon break at the hotel even though it will require an extra 45 minutes there and back again, for a total of three hours in the car per day or more.  

Typical schedule for sunny days:

  • Breakfast on our own in hotel room

  • Leave hotel: 4:45 am

  • Arrive in Deschutes Forest 5:30 am

  • Photograph until 9:30 or 10 am

  • Return to hotel 10:45 am

  • Lunch 11am-ish

  • We will probably have only had 5 hours of sleep at night, so most of us will very much wish to get another hour or two in mid-day

  • Leave hotel 3:30 pm with dinner packed to-go

  • Arrive in Deschutes Forest 4:15 pm

  • Photograph until 8:30 pm

  • Arrive hotel 9:30ish

  • 7 hours for shower, card downloads, call to home, sleep, wake up and get dressed, eat breakfast


Sunrise 05:24
Sunset 20:52

Transportation: There will be a lot of driving during this trip in order to gain access to a variety of habitats. If you are interested, ask about riding along with me in a SUV. Even if you do use my vehicle, you will still need to find a way to and from the airport.

Hotel: More information to be provided about where to stay upon signing up for the trip. Hotel costs are not included in the photo tour fee.

Meals: This trip does not take place near civilization so we'll have limited restaurant options, and usually have to pack dinners.

Learning / Slideshows:
The desert sun grows harsh around 9-10am and becomes shootable again around 3pm. This will allow us a liberal afternoon break during which time we will be able to have a sit-down lunch, but because the night is short, we will want to rest during mid-day as well. I'll probably only break out my laptop for post-processing discussion and basic info on the bird species while we wait for our meal to come out. 

Physical Requirements:
Many of our shooting locations will be right near the car. The water drips will require a 5 minute walk with minimal elevation change.