My First Visit to Malheur NWR


Written by Chris A Rusnak/ Photos by Chris A Rusnak

As a self taught photographer I’ve always been addicted to landscape photography. Wanting to do more wildlife, I recently purchased my first telephoto lens. After a year of occasionally shooting wildlife with my telephoto lens I began to notice the intimate world of our feathered friends. This was a game changer to me. So began my affection and addiction to the world of birds.

My brother Richard was thrilled because he’s been trying to get me into birding for many years and for the 100th time he invited me to join him at MNWR. I had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful park with my brother Richard who I consider an amateur ornithologist and as my personal bird spotter. Richard has been studying birds for nearly 40 years.

Fast forward 2 years from the time I got my telephoto lens to the day my brother invited me to join him at MNWR for the May migration. I didn’t know what to expect until I started to do my research and was amazed to learn that MNWR was a stopover like an international airport for migrating birds to rest, fuelup and carry on to their next destination. This would be an amazing opportunity to capture some great photos and add to my (pretty small) bird list I started less than a year ago.

I can’t identify any specific moments during my visit at MNWR that jump out at me because everyday was a wonderful experience. Meeting so many other birders in one place was a great experience because everyone was willing to share their knowledge. What an amazing time to spend with my brother and family exploring the outdoors and learning all about birds, which are some of earth’s most precious creatures.

From small birds to large birds, fast birds to slow birds and colorful birds to mundane birds I couldn’t get enough birding while exploring all corners of MNWR. After 5 days of non-stop bird counting, bird watching, recording, walking, photographing and enjoying the scenery Richard and I totaled 116 different species and 76 of those birds were “lifers” for me. What an amazing first-time visit as a “fledgling” to my new found passion. You can certainly count on me returning to MNWR again. 

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