Klamath Basin, California/Oregon
The Klamath Basin is situated on the Ca/Or border and contains parts of 5 northern California counties as well as 3 Oregon counties. The Klamath River is the major waterway that drains the basin with its origin in the Upper Klamath Lake. There are 6 wildlife refuges amongst the basin (Upper Klamath, Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, Bear Valley, Clear Lake, and Klamath Marsh. It is a critical zone to preserve. Water levels are at all time lows. The basin has lost 80% of its original wetlands which in turn degrades what is left. These marshes, lakes and wetlands that encompass these basins are habitat for the western fly-way for most of the western bird species (80+% of the Pacific Flyway migrants). The highest concentration of wintering Bald Eagles are found here. Bear Valley NWR is completely closed because it is the eagles roosting spot. Large numbers of waterfowl are found all over the basin. Because of this concentration, there are die-offs that occur and this in turn feeds all the predators/scavengers. A Bald Eagle prefers the easiest method to find food so usually this means scavenge rather than hunt. The rocky volcanic ridges that surround each basin has high concentrations or raptors that reside in them.
Lower Klamath NWR is our nation’s first waterfowl refuge. I first traveled here in 1997 and have been back every year since. I have noticed changes even in 13 years time. With the aquatic environments reflecting the snow cap peaks (and all the birds that fly in front of them), it is an incredibly beautiful place. Mt Shasta is prominent in the southern sky. The Klamath Basin is considered to be the “western Everglades”. Indeed the sky could turn darker when a flock of several thousand Snow Geese takes flight because a Bald Eagle passes by.