Birdfest Edition

Come One, Come All to BirdFest 2012. 







You can check out the schedule of free events here :

And the special events that require pre-registration here:

Mark your calenders, reserve your spots, and we will see you there!

**Please note that on Sunday, October 14, the River 'S' Unit will only be accessable by group bus tour. The busses will pick up and drop off at Ridgefield High School. Consult the BirdFest website for more details on the bussing arrangement.

 All Hands on Deck!

With BirdFest right around the corner, we are looking for enthusiastic individuals to help make this day a success. 4,000 people visit the refuge for this event every year, and with crowds that big, we need volunteers to make the BirdFest experience its best.  

People of all skills and experience levels are needed for various volunteer opportunities.

Here are some of the areas where we need your help:

  • Set-up and take-down festival logistics; tables, chairs, tents, post signs, etc.
  • Festival Greeter- Staff information tables at various locations around town and on the Refuge. Assist with schedule and event information, bus tours, shuttle buses, etc.
  • Assist with Family's Activities, games, and craft stations at Davis Park.
  • Serve as an "Ambassador" for the Friends of Ridgefield NWR at various locations around downtown Ridgefield and on the Refuge.
  • Check-in paddlers for kayak tours.

Check out the BirdFest volunteer webpage here for opportunity descriptions.

If you are interested in helping with any of the above activities or for more info, contact Barb through email at: or by phone at (360) 991-5965.

Carty Unit Volunteers

Besides the volunteers that are needed around town and at information booths, we will be needing people to help out around the Plankhouse. There will be a variety of activities, all either having to do with cultural or environmental education. If you like interacting with families or interpreting nature or Chinookan culture, this is the opportunity for you!

We are looking for individuals to help in the:

  • Plankhouse as docents
  • Family Activites tent
  • Oaks to Wetlands Trail tent

If this looks interesting to you, contact Sarah Hill at for more info or call (360) 887-4106.

Education Training for Teachers and Volunteers - October 20th, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge 

Steigerwald Lake NWR is one of the four refuges in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex. It also happens to be the only other refuge in the complex that is open to the public. The recent opening of the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail has brought a lot of interest from both the general public as well as local schools. In response to this, the Gorge Refuge Stewards (The "Friends" of the other three refuges in the complex) have partnered with local organizations to create a new education program that caters to 5th grade learning objectives in the Washougal area. This is already a very well received program and this summer is seeing the first teachers and volunteers trained to the new student activities.

If you are a teacher interested in taking your students to Steigerwald Lake NWR OR you are a volunteer interested in helping to lead these groups, please come to the education training on October 20th. We will join refuge staff and volunteers at the refuge trail at 9am, then follow up at the local middle school until 3pm. Six clock hours available!

For more information or to sign up, please contact the Gorge Refuge Manager, Jim Clapp, at 360-835-8767 or

Invest in Wildlife Fundraiser Postponed Until Spring 

This year's fundraiser has been postponed until April or May 2013. It was scheduled for September 22, but due to many competing events that weekend, it will be rescheduled for a better time. Keep an eye out for the spring announcement.

Refuge photography contest winners were going to be announced at the fundraiser, but you won't need to wait until spring to learn the results of the contest!

The unveiling of the winning pictures and honorable mentions will take place on Saturday October 13, 2012 at BirdFest at 10:00 am in the Ridgefield Community Center. They will then be placed on our website in the wildlife photo gallery.

Upcoming Refuge Events and News 

Funding Secured for New Carty Unit Bridge

The Refuge is proud to announce that funding has been secured for a new pedestrian bridge on the Carty Unit! The new bridge will connect the headquarters to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and Oaks to Wetland Trail. It will be a vital link to refuge programming, nature-based, historical and cultural education programs and special events on the Carty Unit. The new bridge will replace the more than 30 year old bridge, which is sometimes too steep for visitors with physical limitations. The Carty Unit gets about 35,000 visitors each year, and this remodel will enable all people to get out and enjoy what the refuge has to offer. Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2013.

Refuge Birding Walks
Join a Refuge volunteer naturalist for a series of birding hikes on Ridgefield and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuges. This is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your birding skills while enjoying Refuge trails. All hikes start at the respective trail head. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot early.

For a list of walks and how to sign up go to:

Waterfowl Hunting Begins October 13

Ridgefield NWR has provided a public waterfowl hunting area since it was established in 1965. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act passed by Congress in 1997, identified hunting as a wildlife-dependent, priority public use for the National Wildlife Refuge System. At Ridgefield, the waterfowl hunt program is operated in a manner that is consistent and compatible with the purposes and goals of the Refuge and provides a quality experience for the hunter. This program contributes to the continuation of America's traditions and heritage in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.

Waterfowl hunting is permitted in designated blinds on approximately 760 acres of the River S Unit, west of the AutoTour Route, and is in accordance with State and Federal regulations and Refuge specific conditions. Hunting does not interfere with the safety of other visitors and the Auto Tour Route remains open throughout the season. If you wish to avoid hearing or seeing these birds harvested, you are encouraged to visit on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, which are all non-hunt days on the Refuge.

Proceeds from hunting fees, licenses, equipment tax, and duck stamps are used by state and federal agencies to study populations, conserve and restore habitat, and purchase additional protected lands. Much of the Refuge system would not have been purchased without these funds. At Ridgefield NWR we appreciate all user groups and the unique perspective they have of outdoor recreation. We thank everyone who visits for their appreciation for wildlife, dedication to keeping our natural resources open to all people for all time, and for your patience in using the same lands for different purposes.

Kiwa Trail Closure

With the beginning of the hunt season, so ends the Kiwa trail access. From October 1st - May 1st, The Kiwa trail will be closed to Visitors. During this time, visitors to the River 'S' Unit must also stay in their vehicles when traveling along the Auto Tour Route.

Hikers, don't fret! The Carty Unit is still open for foot traffic and hiking all year. 

Upcoming Refuge Events  

Refuge Birding Walks
Join a Refuge volunteer naturalist for a series of birding hikes on Ridgefield and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuges. This is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your birding skills while enjoying Refuge trails. All hikes start at the respective trail head. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot early.

For a list of walks and how to sign up go to:

Birdfest 2012
Be sure to mark your calenders for the weekend of October 13&14! There will be lots to do both on the refuge and in town, so keep an eye out for the event schedule to be posted on the Friends website. If you just can't wait to see whats in store for this year, you can stop by the Carty Unit headquarters and pick up a paper schedule! Office hours are 8am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday.

Cathlapotle Plankhouse Update

With the onset of fall, the plankhouse programs are coming to a close. The weekend of BirdFest will be the last time the Plankhouse will be open to visitors until the spring. There are lots of great things planned for that weekend, and we hope to see you out at the Plankhouse!

BirdFest talks and activities happening in or near the Plankhouse:

Saturday, October 13

  • All day: Family activities tent, Oaks to Wetlands Trail activities tent, Plankhouse tours.
  • 12:00-4:00: English Ivy Basketry workshop, Flintknapping demonstrations.
  • 11:30 - Ethnobotany Hike
  • 1:00-3:00 - Life in the Lake; drop in and discover the aquatic invertebrates of the refuge
  • 1:30 - Cathlapotle Village overview and site walk
  • 2:00 - Habitat Restoration walk

Sunday, October 14

  • All day: Family activities tent, Oaks to Wetlands Trail activities tent, Plankhouse tours.
  • 10am - Geology walk
  • 12:30 - Native American Fishing on the Lower Columbia River; Dr. Virginia Butler speaking in Plankhouse
  • 1:30 - Keeping Traditions Alive; Sam Robinson, Chinook Indian Nation, speaking in Plankhouse
  • 2:30-4:30 - Traditional Salmon Bake; Blessing and samples while supplies last

Volunteers Needed

If you would like to help with the activities in or near the Plankhouse, we could sure use the help! Volunteers are needed to staff the Family activities and Trial Guide tents, as well as guiding visitors in the Plankhouse. If interested, contact Sarah Hill at  


Habitat Restoration Update & Events   

Sunday, October 13th - BirdFest

Ivy Pull and basket workshop

There will be a special restoration event happening on the Saturday of BirdFest. From 9am to 11am, join the folks from Rewild Portland as they pull English Ivy from the Carty Unit. This ivy will then be used as the material for a basket making workshop that will be held from12:00pm-4:00pm next to the Plankhouse.

English Ivy is an invasive species that has damaged many native ecosystems throughout the Northwest. Rewild Portland removes this nuisance of a vine from the land and uses it to weave artful, utilitarian baskets. Join them in restoring the habitat of the refuge and create your own basket with the Rewild Portland crew.

The pull and the workshop will be on a drop-in basis, so feel free to come to the pull, the workshop, or both!

Contact Peter Bauer at for more info.

Restoration Walk - 2:00pm

Join our habitat restoration coordinator Lynn Cornelius for a walk on the Oaks to Wetlands Trail on the Carty Unit. He will discuss ways the refuge is managing invasive species and building habitat. He will also share habitat restoration tips and tricks that participants can use in their own back yards.

Fall Planting Season Begins October 27th

Join us for our first Fall/Winter volunteer event:

Saturday October 27th

9:00 to 12:30 at the Carty Unit - 28908 NW Main Avenue

Wear boots or waterproof footwear and dress for the weather.  

We will be planting trees, building  and installing cages around the trees to protect them from hungry critters such as beaver, deer, and mice.

Stay tuned for our New Fall/Winter Flyer of volunteer events coming out in early October.

Roger's Refuge Ramblings 
by Roger Windemuth

Itís Autumn time at the refuge!  And once again, itís the changing of the guard.  We say good bye to the friends of summer and welcome back our old friends of fall and winter.  Late summer and autumn is migration time and the face of the refuge is changing. 

Not only will the leaves be turning red and gold, but the lakes, ponds, and wetlands will again be filling, hiding the mud and plants that were exposed during the dry summer.  The ducks and geese will again be covering the skies and many parts of the grasslands.  The refuge will have a fresh new look, completely different from just a few short weeks ago.

Migration is an interesting phenomenon,  At whatever moment, throughout the year, day or night, there are birds wending their way high in the skies of the Western Hemisphere, migrating.  But it is in the spring and fall, when the continentís sky is swarming with billions of birds, that migration becomes apparent even to the most unobservant.  And yet, not all migration of birds is done by wing.  When the first winter snow comes, the Blue Grouse leave the warmer foothills of the Western mountains and migrate, by foot, up to the bitter wind-driven cold of the high country, searching for a diet of conifer needles.

Among our summer refuge birds, the Rufous Hummingbird is one of our smallest visitors. It migrates south along the mountain ridges to its traditional winter home in Mexico. But, more and more over the last quarter of a century, these little tykes are finding their way to the southwest and many places east of the Mississippi.  Another summer refuge bird is the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  It is less cold-tolerant than its cousin, the Red-winged Blackbird, and retreats farther southward. Yellow-headed Blackbirds leave most of their breeding areas and occupy a winter range that stretches from the extreme southwestern United States to central Mexico.  This year at the refuge they began to migrate early.  The last one was seen on July 20.

Among our winter refuge birds, the Canada Goose, a.k.a. the Cackling Goose is the most numerous and, because of its numbers, the most vocal of our winter birds.  At one time the Cackling Goose was a sub-species, along with ten other sub-species of the Canada Goose, but since 2004, it can boast that it, along with three other sub-species is now its own species, collectively called Cackling Goose.  Cackling Geese breed in western Alaska along a narrow strip of coastline primarily between the Yukon and the Kuskokwim Rivers.  They generally migrate to the Pacific Northwest in winter. In fact, it was this past week, September 24 -26 that they made their first appearance at the refugeóaround three weeks earlier than usual!

I have just mentioned several summer and winter migrants.  There are many, many more that spend a few months each year enjoying the Ridgefield Refuge.  Of course there are a number of birds that enjoy the refuge year around, but thatís another story.

Come out this fall and notice the changing populations of the refuge.  Notice also the colors of fall.  This is the time of year when the refuge is on display.

Some of the unusual and rare birds that were seen this past month are Greater White-fronted Goose, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Semipalmated Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Barn Owl, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Lazuli Bunting.

Welcome New Members! 

Besides receiving monthly E-News with Refuge updates, upcoming events, and wildlife news, members enjoy member- and volunteer- only events.  With your $50+ membership you will receive an annual Refuge Pass, which covers entrance fees.

Donít forget to glance at the Refuge calendar, your one-stop shop for fun activities and volunteer opportunities, at

Discounts at Local Businesses for New and Renewing Members have begun! you like to enjoy a cup of coffee from Ridgefield's Season's after a morning hike on the Refuge? Or perhaps breakfast before you head out on auto tour route at Pioneer Street Cafe or lunch at Vinnie's Pizza after a long day of wildlife viewing? Or maybe you would like to get a discount on some supplies at Shorty's or Backyard Bird Shop?  

If any of these sound appealing to you then become a Friend or renew your membership starting July 1 to get a member card with some great discounts and offers from local businesses.  To renew or to become a Friend visit here.  For questions or inquiries about membership contact    


ďThe Friendís mission is to support, protect, and enhance the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge and its wildlife habitat, and to broaden public awareness and participation in its environmental, cultural, and educational opportunities.Ē

Please visit our website at

Click here to donate to us through PayPal

Table of Contents

Come One, Come All to BirdFest 2012
BirdFest Volunteers Needed
Education Training for Teachers and Volunteers - October 20
Fundraiser Postponed
Upcoming Refuge Events
Cathlapotle Plankhouse Update
Habitat Restoration Update & Events
Roger's Refuge Ramblings
Welcome New Members!

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