by Kat Beal, Wildlife Biologist
US Army Corps of Engineers
As many Quail readers know, Fern Ridge supports an amazing variety of breeding and wintering birds. Designated as an Important Bird Area in 2002, Fern Ridge provides important habitat for migrating and wintering shorebirds and breeding habitat for species not commonly found west of the Cascades, including Black Tern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and more recently Black-necked Stilt and Wilson's Phalarope. In the last 20 years the Corps and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have created over 900 acres of wetland impoundments--essentially large wetlands where water levels can be managed independently from the lake's elevation. These impoundments have provided more stable habitats, and allowed managers to improve wetland composition by converting canary grass to higher quality native plants.