MARION COUNTY, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we head to Silver Falls State Park to preview the Mother's Day Birding and Wildflower Festival being held on May 13 and 14.
Binoculars in hand, park ranger Matt Palmquist plays a game of hide-and-seek.
"They don’t usually stay in one place very long," he said, lowering the binoculars from his eyes as he searched for one of the many bird species making an appearance this time of year.
"My favorite little resident bird is the tiny, little Pacific Wren," he said. "It's like a little brown mouse that hangs out in the underbrush of the forest. My favorite migratory bird is probably the little Wilson's warbler, bright yellow with a little black cap on it."
Palmquist has been a park ranger at Silver Falls State Park for 16 years. He said he loves the natural beauty and the ability to connect visitors with all the park’s resources.
Over a million visitors pour through every year — Palmquist estimates it to be 1.2-1.5 million. Swerving through the park are 35 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. South Falls is the crown jewel, cascading 177 feet and down many an Instagram feed.
Between April and October is the busy season, and it's beginning to feel like spring.
"So we really like to celebrate seasonal phenomena here at Silver Falls, and the wildflowers here in the spring are absolutely fantastic," Palmquist said. "And the amount of birds that we can see in the spring in the park is also really really great. So we have a festival to celebrate this."
On May 13 and 14, Silver Falls State Park is hosting the annual Mother’s Day Birding and Wildflower Festival, held every year since 1979 except for pandemic-related cancellations in 2020 and 2021.
"Each day on Friday and Saturday, the 13th and 14th of May, we will have three guided birding walks, three guided wildflower walks will have a native plant sale where you can get a chance to buy some native plants for your own garden," Palmquist said. "We will have live raptor presentations. We've got a falconer coming and bringing some birds of prey and we will also have a wildflower show with over 100 species of wildflowers."
There is a $5 day use fee to park, but the event is free and open to all. For more information, visit www.stateparks.oregon.gov.
Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.