Larch Mountain Clearcut

Larch Mountain (Birding Oregon p.71) is a great spot close to Portland to find birds of the forested west side of the Cascades. Mature forest covers the area near the summit and throughout much of the crater. Farther down the mountain are areas that have been logged.

At first glance, a recent clearcut seems a desolate place. While it is sad to think of the great trees that used to stand there, you may actually see more birds in a clearcut than you will in a mature forest. The two clearcuts described in Birding Oregon have grown up to the point where you can’t walk into them any more. Young trees, shrubs, old stumps, rocks, and uneven ground make walking impossible. An easily accessible recent clearcut is found just downhill of milepost 8. Walk past the blue gate through a thin buffer of trees to get to the open habitat. In the past week I have seen Western Tanager, Red Crossbill, Gray Jay,  Band-tailed Pigeon, Western Bluebird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Townsend’s Solitaire, Rufous Hummingbird, Violet-green Swallow, and White-crowned Sparrow in or along the edges of this clearcut.

Western Bluebird

Lupines, along with Foxglove and other flowers, are common in clearcuts.

Clearcuts attract Black-tailed Deer and Roosevelt Elk, which in turn attract Mountain Lions. This set of tracks was leading from the clearcut to the woods.

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