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Wildlife refuge really comes alive in May

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Many classes and activities are on tap, including the Tualatin River Bird Festival and work parties

It's early April as I write this column. I've been enjoying the beautiful bird songs that come with spring. I never realized what a bubbly, happy song the house finches have until I stopped to listen.

So many signs of spring are urging us to forget the snowstorms, windstorms and rains of the past winter and get outside. Now that May is here, it's a great time to visit the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The breezes are warm, the wildflowers are blooming, and the birds are singing, so take a walk on the trails or just sit in the sun.

COURTESY OF PAM FARRIS - A footbridge deep in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge provides a quiet place to stroll and contemplate nature.Tualatin River Photo Society

The Tualatin River Photo Society will meet Thursday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in the Riparian Room (enter through side door). The group offers speakers, assistance and sharing about photographing nature. In addition, there are meet-ups to photograph different aspects of nature.

Come to a meeting and put your name on the mailing list. Open to photographers of all skill levels with any type of camera. There are no meetings in June, July or August.

Puddle Stompers

A Puddle Stompers class will be held Wednesday, May 10, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

This preschool environmental-education program invites children and their families to spend the morning learning about the natural wonders of the refuge. Volunteer naturalists will lead nature crafts, share stories, and guide hikes on refuge trails.

The refuge supplies "froggy" raingear for the kids, but adults should bring their own. Registration is required. Questions? Please contact Seth Winkelhake or call 503-625-5944.

Second Saturday Work Party

A Second Saturday Work Party will be held Saturday, May 13, from 8:45 a.m. to noon. Meet at the refuge headquarters, 19255 S.W. Pacific Highway. These work parties are a great opportunity to see parts of the refuge that are closed to the public, as well as a great way to get an understanding of what's going on at the refuge from the field level.

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring a water bottle. Email Habitat Restoration Specialist Sarah Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

Bio-Swale Work Party

A Bio-Swale Work Party will be held Friday, May 19, from 9 to 11 a.m. Come to the refuge and help us weed our parking lot bio-swale. Wear appropriate clothing for working in the dirt and sun. Bring water; no prior experience required.

Tualatin River Bird Festival

Have you driven by the refuge and wondered what is up beyond the oak trees on the knoll? The annual Tualatin River Bird Festival is Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is a great way to get acquainted with this place and have some fun. The event celebrates birds and all things nature. It is sponsored by the Friends of the Refuge, in partnership with the refuge.

Plan to spend the day and sample some of the many family-friendly activities. For the early risers, start the day with a walk to listen and look for birds greeting the dawn. The walks will be led by long-time birding experts starting at 5:30 a.m.

Festival activities begin at 10 a.m. and will the offer kids and adults plenty to do. The kids can build a birdhouse to take home or paint a duck decoy. They can visit a pond study and see the tiny world that lives in the water or try their hand at the backyard fishing station. The always popular Conestoga-style wagon rides will be back to offer a tour of the refuge. Or guests can walk the refuge and visit the interpretive stations along the trail to learn more about the plants, animals and birds that call the refuge home.

The Nature Store will be open all day and offers a wide selection of books and field guides about nature as well as gift items for everyone on your list. Conservation exhibitors will be present to answer questions about their organizations and explain ways you can help protect the environment.

Free festival parking will be available at the office building at 12205 S.W. Tualatin Road, corner of 124th and Pacific Highway. Free shuttle buses will provide continuous transportation to the refuge starting at 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. There will be no onsite parking at the refuge.

For complete up-to-date information about the festival, go to friendsoftualatinrefuge.org or call 503-625-5944, Ext. 227.