copyright 2007 by Greg Gillson
If you want mountain/forest birds such as Mountain Quail, Northern Goshawks, Gray Jays, Hermit Warblers, American Dippers, Hammond's Flycatchers, Townsend's Solitaires, Hutton's Vireos, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, and other such birds in Washington County, then taking a day to explore the back country roads, clear cuts, creek bottoms, and forest edges can be enjoyable and rewarding. Birding is good from April into September.
Birding is good in these forests and clear cuts because of natural succession. As the forest regrows the species composition changes. Thus, for the first 12 years or so following a cut, one will find Willow Flycatcher, House Wren, Townsend's Solitaire, Western Bluebird, and White-crowned Sparrow. Additional birds found for the first 20 years include Northern Flicker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, American Robin, Orange-crowned Warbler, Spotted Towhee, and Brown-headed Cowbird.
As the forest gets older the above birds disappear but others appear. After about 12 years Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Warbler, and Wilson's Warbler move in. They stay as the forest gets older and are joined after 20 years by Ruffed Grouse, Hammond's Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Varied Thrush, and Yellow-rumped Warber. Of course, some birds are found throughout all forest ages, including Rufous Hummingbird, Warbling Vireo, Steller's Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, MacGillivray's Warbler, Western Tanager, and Dark-eyed Junco. (From thesis of Kelly Bettinger in 1996 on forests in the central Cascades.)
This site guide describes the birding opportunities west of Timber on Cochran Road. Birding in town itself is unremarkable, except that most homes seem to have hummingbird feeders. The only expected species is Rufous Hummingbird, April through August. There is a firestation and post office, but no other amenities or facilities in this tiny town. The road turns to gravel 1/2 mile west of town. Zero your odometer here. There are mile markers nailed to trees every half mile. A map is highly recommended. New logging roads may occur at any time, and old roads on maps may not exist or be gated shut. The main roads are quite obvious, however.
[I haven't walked this since about 2006.] An older clear cut currently with public access is at Ingersoll Road, 1.3 miles west of town, on the right-hand (north) side of the road [Map Point 1]. Elevation here is about 1120 feet. Park without blocking the locked gate and walk the road behind the gate. I've always turned back after reaching some standing forest fragments about one mile in, but the road keeps going off to the northeast. The trees in the clear cut are 20 years old now and starting to close in. Thus, though you may hear a Mountain Quail or Blue Grouse, it is difficult to catch a glimpse. A visit on May 15, 2004 found the following, in decreasing order of abundance: 15 Rufous Hummingbirds, 15 Wilson's Warblers, 10 Orange-crowned Warblers, 10 Hermit Warblers, 10 MacGillivray's Warblers, 10 Black-headed Grosbeaks, 10 Purple Finches, 6 Black-throated Gray Warblers, 5 Swainson's Thrush, 5 White-crowned Sparrows, and lesser numbers of many other birds including Mountain Quail (1 heard only), Band-tailed Pigeon, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Steller's Jay, Brown Creeper, Pacific Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch and others.
The next stop [Map Point 2] is Reehers Camp, managed by the Tillamook State Forest. There are 6 spaces in the main campground and 10 spaces in the horse campground. The parking pads for each site are large, but there really is no room for tents. There are vault pit toilets, but the pump water is approved for stock animals only at this time. Fee is $10 per night.
The target bird here is Hammond's Flycatcher. They breed here under the closed canopy in the otherwise very open forest created by removing all undergrowth (see photo). I found 10 Hammond's and 10 Pacific-slope Flycatchers here on the morning of May 18, 2007, and at least 8 singing Hammond's Flycatchers even at noon on 11 June 2006. Getting good light on them is difficult, as they sing from high up in the canopy.
Hermit Warbler is the most common warbler here, along with Wilson's Warbler. Other species include Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo, Dark-eyed Junco, Swainson's Thrush, Varied Thrush, Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Tanager, Pacific Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Western Wood-Pewee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Rufous Hummingbird, Gray Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, Evening Grosbeak and, across the street in the opening, White-crowned Sparrow. A trail between the campground and the day use area leads down to the river. The river is shallow and narrow, always in the shade of the 200 foot tall Douglas-fir. Either here, or on the multi-use trail 1/4 mile to the bridge upstream you can find American Dipper.
New in 2010: A new horse/foot loop trail, the Triple C Trail, starts in the campground. Walk either across the road to the north and follow the river back, or walk it in reverse. It is 1.5 miles. I consider this trail to now be the must visit highlight of the entire site guide from very late spring into mid-summer.
See this web site on the Triple C Trail by the Forest Hiker.
Typical birds of both forests and mountain clearings are found here including Gray Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Varied Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Western Tanager, Evening Grosbeak, Hermit Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Steller's Jay, Hairy Woodpecker, White-crowned Sparrow, House Wren, Red Crossbill, and others. This also might be a fairly decent place to view migrating raptors in the fall, though the valley opens up more to the east than to the north. Migrant Merlins and Sharp-shinned Hawks were seen here in fall 2004.
[Map Point 5] Logging landing over new clear cut (2006) creating possibly excellent fall raptor watching area, late August to early October. Distance needs verification, it may be 1.9 miles from Cochran Road. A pair of Townsend's Solitaires were here in May 2007. Both Blue and Ruffed Grouse were observed on road edges in the fall of 2004.
[Map Point 6] Access to Round Top. Distance needs verification, may be 3.0 miles from Cochran Road to Rogers Road, then a short distance to the road leading up Round Top. There was much active logging starting in the spring 2007 over most of the mountain. I'm thinking this may be a place to check for winter Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches or Snow Buntings for the next few winters (November to February), if snow doesn't block the road. It is about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from the locked gate to the summit, fairly steep. Open views of the sky offer possiblitiy of seeing Northern Goshawk.
The intersection of Rogers/Round Top Road with Bell Camp Road, and walking back down Round Top Rd a few hundred feet, is an excellent location for Sooty Grouse on the steep hillside in the mature forest. Gray Jay and Northern Pygmy-Owl are regular here also.
Warning, unsafe: do not attempt to take Rogers Road down to Highway 6!
If the gate open at Cochran site it is possible to drive circle from Bell Camp Road to Standard Grade to Cohran site and back on Cochran Road [see below].
The site of Cochran is 6.5 miles west of Timber. About 3.5 miles from Timber the road goes out of Washington County and into Tillamook County, then comes back into Washington County right at the site of Cochran. The only thing here now of this one-time timber camp is a pond, railroad spur, gravel pit, and some old foundations in a clearing in the forest on the edge of a creek. Some campers or hunters may park here for the night. Typical forest birds include Blue Grouse, Band-tailed Pigeon, Hairy & Pileated Woodpecker, Hammond's & Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Warbling Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Bluebird, Orange-crowned & Yellow-rumped & Hermit Wablers, Black-headed & Evening Grosbeaks. Several birds of wet clearings were here as well, such as American Robin, Common Yellowthroat, Song & White-crowned Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbird. There is potential for waterbirds as well.