Wildlife at the Johnston Wilderness Campus
by Jen Thal

The Johnston Wilderness Campus (JWC) is located approximately 30 miles east-southeast of Walla Walla, Washington in Umatilla County, Oregon.  The area receives a substantial amount of rain throughout the year, and, for the most part, little sunlight reaches the ground.  These factors, in combination with several others, influence the type of animals that inhabit the area.

The land around the JWC is composed of three different habitats in which birds and mammals may find shelter, forage for food, and breed.  The area lowest in elevation is the environment in and around Mill Creek.  Although no birds or mammals seek shelter in the creek, it serves as a source of food for many species.  The brush along the sides of the stream and the moist stream banks provide nesting sites, protection from predators, food, etc.  The second habitat consists of an open woodland with buildings interspersed throughout the evergreens.  Many trees have been cut down, the underbrush has been cleared, and grass has been planted in some areas.  These woods remain shady, however, and the large trees provide a source of food and shelter for animals.  The third habitat is characterized by steep slopes and dense vegetative growth.  This area is likely to shelter many species of both birds and mammals, although the thick underbrush makes observation difficult.

Most of the mammals living in the area are small and nocturnal as well as wary of human activity.  Birds, as well as mammals, have a favorite time of day.  Usually, the greatestbird activity occurs in the early morning when they are singing and foraging for food.  It is a great asset for the birder to be able to identify birds based on their call, as locating birds high in tree branches, or within the underbrush can be difficult.  Wildlife observation around the JWC has the potential to reward any observer with spectacular sightings.  Below is a list of some of the mammals and birds that may be found around the JWC.

An * indicates that the species has been seen recently in the area.

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Small mammals
California myotis bat
Silver-haired bat
Hoary bat
Water shrew
Vagrant shrew
Coast mole
Deer mouse
Western jumping mouse
Bushy tailed woodrat
Southern red-backed vole
Long-tailed vole
Pocket gopher
Golden ground squirrel
Northern flying squirrel
Red squirrel
Yellow pine chipmunk

Large mammals
Mule deer
White tail deer
Elk (right)
Black bear
Mountain lion

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Gallinaceous Birds
Gray Partridge
California Quail
Mountain Quail
Sharp-tailed Grouse
*Wild Turkey (right)
Sage Grouse
*Blue Grouse
*Ruffed Grouse
Ring-necked Pheasant

Shore Bird
*Spotted Sandpiper

Band-tailed Pigeon

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

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Barn Owl
Barred Owl
Boreal Owl
Western Screech Owl
Long-eared Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Flammulated Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
*Great Gray Owl (right)

Nighthawks, Swifts
Common Nighthawk
Vaux’s Swift
White-throated Swift

Anna’s Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Broad tailed Hummingbird

*Belted Kingfisher

*Lewis’ Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker
*Downy Woodpecker (right)
*Hairy Woodpecker
Three-toed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
*Pileated Woodpecker
Red-naped Sapsucker
*Northern Flicker

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Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western wood Pewee
Hammond’s Flycatcher
Western Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow

Gray Jay
Blue Jay
*Stellar’s Jay (right)
Clark’s Nutcracker
Common Raven

Chickadees, Bushtit
*Mountain Chickadee
*Chestnut-backed Chickadee
*Black-capped Chickadee

Nuthatches, Creeper
*Red-breasted Nuthatch
*White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper

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House Wren
Winter Wren
Bewick’s Wren

*American Dipper

Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
American Redstart
MacGillivray’s Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Wilson’s Warbler

Western Tanager

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White-throated Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Harris’ Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Cassin’s Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Green-tailed Towhee
*Dark-eyed Junco (right)
Lazuli Bunting

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet

*American Robin
Varied Thrush
Townsend’s Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Western Bluebird

Gray Catbird

Bohemian Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

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Blackbirds, Orioles
Common Grackle
Northern Oriole (right)
Bullock’s Oriole
Red Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill
Purple Finch
Pine Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak
American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin
Rusty Blackbird


Blue Mountain Audubon Society, Walla Walla County pocket checklist to area birds: Walla Walla, WA, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Peterson, R. T., 1990, Peterson field guides: western birds, 3rd edition: Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company.

Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, 1999, http://www.wwchamber.com/birding.htm.

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