2007 Wings And Wine Festival

This was the official website for the Wings And Wine Festival from 2006 - 2012. The Fern Ridge Wings and Wine Festival is held annually to coincide with International Migratory Bird Day and offers an opportunity to explore the sights and sounds of local wildlife and enjoy the delightful tastes of artisan wines. The content below is from the site's 2007 archived pages before the festival created a new look for this site. The last postings on the festival's facebook page was 2012.


• Birding Walks • Canoe Trips • Live Raptors •
• Educational Speakers • Slide Show •
• Gourmet Dinner with Owl Walk • Wine Tasting •
• Children's Activities • Crafts •
• Nursery Stock • Organic Produce •

Osprey flying from nest

Fern Ridge is located 10 miles west of Eugene, in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley. The extensive wetlands provide unique habitats for a variety of wildlife, including an unusual array of breeding birds. The reservoir is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. While winter waterfowl are a primary management species, the wildlife area provides thousands of acres of habitat for raptors, upland birds, shorebirds, passerines and woodpeckers. Other wildlife include deer, river otter, western pond turtle and red-legged frogs.

Fern Ridge offers a large variety of birding opportunities from advanced shorebird identification to enjoying the many species of ducks. As always, timing makes a big difference but spring is a fun and exciting time at Fern Ridge, when you may see a wonderful mixture of north bound neotropical migrants and early breeders. By April, many geese already have nests or chicks and Stilts have usually arrived. Come May, the breeders are in full force and include Stilts, Phalaropes, Yellow-headed Blackbird, American Bittern, Redhead, and the list goes on.


Where to Bird Fern Ridge in Spring

Royal Avenue:
Parking is available at the western end of Royal Ave where there is a restroom.  From the gate, walk west towards the reservoir and turn south into the dike system.  From this intersection a viewing platform should be visible.  Lighting can be tricky at times, but you are sure to get incredible panoramic views of the reservoir in the mornings and one must catch a Fern Ridge sunset in the evenings, truly spectacular.

From the platform in spring, scan the mudflats and marshes for all sorts of breeding birds such as Osprey, Red-winged Blackbird, American Bittern, Black-necked Stilt, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Coot, etc.  Don’t forget to listen for calling Virginia Rail and Sora, especially near dawn or dusk.  Scan the large cottonwoods in all directions for Bald Eagle and look for the Purple Martin boxes mounted to old snags or installed poles.  If you’re lucky, Martins sometimes flyby quite close in mixed swallow flocks.

Kirk Park:
Located on the north side of the reservoir, Kirk Park is an excellent place to stop and have lunch.  Ample picnic tables are available and nesting songbirds are plentiful.  Listen for singing Brown Creeper, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Black-capped Chickadees in the park.  Cliff swallows nest on the dam face and hunt over Kirk Pond with other swallows and there is usually a resident Kingfisher around.  Exploring the forest edges could produce various other songbird breeders; look and listen for Spotted Towhee, Orange-crowned Warbler, Hutton’s Vireo and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Perkin’s/Zumwalt Parks:
Perkin’s is on the south side of the reservoir and Zumwalt is just northwest of it.  Both of theses peninsula act as spring migrant traps, funneling and concentrating migrant birds to their northern shores.  Timing is everything with neotropical migrants.  Mornings are usually better, but numbers can vary dramatically from day to day.  If you show up on a good morning, prepare for warblers, vireos, flycatchers, orioles and others to be dripping from the trees and shrubs. 

On a good day you’ll find Orange-crowned, Black-throated Gray and Townsends Warbler.  Warbling and Cassin’s Vireo are both likely.  Look for Western Wood Pewee, and try to sort through the various other flycatchers.  Orioles are often present as well as Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeak.  Hummingbirds whirl by and Yellow Warblers breed near the boardwalk.


Fern Ridge Reservoir and Secret House Winery
in association with the Lane County Audubon Society,
Cascades Raptor Center, WREN, The City of Veneta
and The Army Corps of Engineers.


TOM AND ALLISON MICKEL have been active in the local birding community with both Oregon Field Ornithologists and Lane County Audubon Society (LCAS) for 30 years. They compile the Field Notes for The Quail, a publication of LCAS and have contributed chapters in other Oregon birding publications. Tom led field trips for the 2003 American Birding Association convention in Eugene.

DAVE BONTRAGER former biologist/educator with National Audubon Society at the 4,000 acre Starr Ranch Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in California. He was also a research biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dave currently teaches a variety of bird and natural history classes in Eugene.

VERA THOMPSON is an avid local birder and contributor to bird publications such as “Birds of Lane County” and “Oregon Birds.”

KAREN AUSTIN is a wildlife biologist with a Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Oregon State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from University of California at Davis.  She worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 13 years, in California and Oregon, and then took a 9-year sabbatical to be at home with her then young children.  She now works for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a biological technician, and loves the diversity of skills she uses in her job, including GIS map-making, surveying for animals and plants, bird banding, and forest/wetland inventory.

DAN FARRAR is a student at the University of Oregon, majoring in biology with a keen interest in birds and conservation. Dan moved to Veneta in sixth grade and became a birder after attending high school biology field trips to Malheur NWR. He fell in love with the birds and listing the different species. He currently works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a wildlife technician and conducts research in bird populations via different scientific methods including bird banding and point counting.

RICK AHRENS is a local nature guide and volunteer for Mt Pisgah Arboretum, Nearby Nature, West Eugene Wetlands, Cascades Raptor Center, ODFW and Lane County Audubon Society. Rick has been a nature guide volunteer for the past 20 years, has birded on 7 continents and started his love of birding early in life when his grandmother taught Rick and his brother about the birds near their home.

KAT BEAL is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wildlife biologist, with an emphasis on non-game species and habitat management. This will be her fourteenth year managing and monitoring western pond turtle nesting areas at Fern Ridge Lake.

DAN GLEASON author of Birds! From the Inside Out, an introductory textbook about birds that is richly illustrated by his wife, Barbara. Dan retired from the Biology Department at the University of Oregon where he worked for nearly 30 years and still teaches the summer Field Ornithology class. Dan is on the Board of Directors of Lane County Audubon Society and has been actively involved in environmental education throughout the Eugene area leading field trips, workshops and volunteer guide training. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and interest in birds and the natural world.

SARAH L SHAFER is a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.  Her research focuses on the impacts of both past and future climate changes on ecosystems.  Sarah is a backyard birder and has worked as a field intern for the Point Reyes Bird Observatory at its Palomarin and Southeast Farallon Island field stations.

PATTI CHAPPEL is the owner of Secret House Vineyards and has developed hedgerow habitat throughout her property. Her beautiful gardens are enjoyed by all who visit!

LOUISE SHIMMEL is the founder and director of Cascades Raptor Center, a Eugene nature center and wildlife hospital specializing in birds of prey. Sixty percent of the birds presented for care at the center are owls, and she has worked with over 1500. For 20 years, Louise has been sharing her fascination with the natural world with all ages, presenting hundreds of classroom programs, leading field trips at the center, and teaching classes in wildlife rehabilitation.


Fern idge Reservoir and Secret House Winery
in association with the Lane County Audubon Society,
Cascades Raptor Center, WREN, The City of Veneta
and The Army Corps of Engineers.


• Some Activities Require Pre-Registration and Fees •
• 541-935-3774  and 541-935-8841 •


7 a.m.

BIRDWALK to East Coyote Unit and Perkin's Peninsula of Fern Ridge Reservoir to look for migrant songbirds and any other birds we can find.

Length: 3.5 hours

Led by: Tom and Allison Mickel

Meet at: Secret House

Cost: $10.00

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 20 people

8:30 a.m.

Walk to fisher Butte Unit at Fern Ridge to look at species of waterbirds that breed here, and focus on how they use the wetland habitats of Fern Ridge.

Length: 2.5 hours

Led by: Dave Bontrager

Meet at: Secret House

Cost: $10.00

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 20 people

8:30 a.m.

The 380 acre property on the banks of the Long Tom River has been used for seasonal gatherings for thousands of years. The site is flooded several times most winters and includes wetlands, uplands, forests and open meadows. There will be all sorts of interesting things to see in this magical setting.

Length: 2.5 hours

Led by: Vera Thompson

Meet at: Meet at Oregon Country Fair site entrance at 24450 Suttle Road and the corner of Aero Road and follow the signage for parking and our starting point.

Cost: Free

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 25 people

9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Free Fun for the whole family!

Gardens open all day for bird watching!

Food from Veneta's Our Daily Bread!

Booths sponsored by Lane County Audubon Society, Cascades Raptor Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Willamette Resources Education Network, Barnes & Noble, Veneta Parks, Fern Ridge Trails, and Wine Tasting will have tons of cool information and ongoing activities!

9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Provided by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

The large Royal Avenue platform has a 360 degree view of wetland habitats. At this site one can see numerous species of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, terns, and other birds. Bring your spotting scopes, binoculars, and field guides, or borrow the ones provided.

Led by: Karen Austin

Cost: Free

10 a.m.

FERN RIDGE BIRD WALK with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Led by: Dan Farrar

Meet at: Royal Avenue Gate

Cost: Free

Pre-registration Required

10 a.m. to 12 noon

PADDLE FOR PREDATORS to find Raptors on Fern Ridge Lake and to Coyote Creek for other bird species.

Paddle the marshy side of Fern Ridge and get close to wetland raptors and other water-loving birds. Local environmental educator for Nearby Nature and lover of birds, Wendy McKenzie, will guide the trip. Oregon River Sports will bring the canoes and gear.

You should bring: rain gear, quick-drying, synthetic clothing (minimal cotton), shoes that can get wet (no flip flops), sunscreen, mosquito repellant, hat, sunglasses and eyeglasses should have retainers, also bring some water, a snack and binoculars.

Led By: Guy Santiago and Wendy McKenzie

Meet at: 9:45 at Perkins Peninsula Park

Cost: $25 per person or $40.00 per canoe

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 10 canoes

11 a.m.

MID MORNING BIRD WALK on grounds of Secret House Winery

Length: 1 hour

Led By: Rick Ahrens

Meet at: Audubon booth

Cost: Free

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 20 people

11:30 a.m.

TURTLE TALK at Kirk Pond

Led By: Kat Beal

She will discuss turtle biology and management and participants will perhaps have an opportunity to observe western pond turtles basking at Kirk Pond, one of the best places in Lane County to observe these native turtles.

Meet at: East Kirk Pond

Cost: Free


Limited to 20 people

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

OPEN HOUSE AT ODFW OFFICE at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area 26969 Cantrell Road. Visit and see the displays of mounted birds, bird checklists, maps to trails of woodlands and wetlands. A great opportunity to become better acquainted with your local wildlife area.

Directions to ODFW Office

Guided walks at 12:30 and 3:30 pm led by Wayne Morrow and Kevin Roth.

1 p.m.

AFTERNOON BIRD WALK on grounds of Secret House Winery

Led By: Dan Gleason

Meet at: Audubon booth

Cost: Free

Pre-registration Required

Limited to 20 people

2 p.m.

AFTERNOON TALK, "How might future climate change affect Pacific Northwest birds?"
Sarah L. Shafer of USGS Earth Surface Processes Team will talk about birds in a changing climate, the theme of this year's International Migratory Bird Day at This talk will examine the future climate changes projected for the Pacific Northwest and describe some of the ways that climate change may both directly and indirectly affect Pacific Northwest bird populations.

Meet at: Veneta Public Library

3 p.m.

Learn about plantings to enhance bird habitat, especially native plants to attract native birds. Hedgerows are important in agricultural areas to provide cover and breeding sites for wildlife.

Led By: Patti Chappel

Meet at: Wine Tasting Booth

Cost: Free


"A Fascination with Owls" by Louise Shimmel

Gourmet Dinner, featuring spring delicacies. 

Cost: $50.00 includes two glasses of wine.

Keynote Speaker: Dan Gleason talks about “Wings across the Willamette,” a light-hearted look at birds of the Willamette Valley.

Pre-registration Required

9:00 p.m.


Led By: Dan and Barbara Gleason

Open to Dinner Participants Only

Pre-registration Required