To the untrained eye, the birds we have at Oregon Caves may appear quite similar: you might see them as quickly vanishing flashes of color, or perhaps you perceive only their movement. However, it’s worth appreciating the different species we have because each of our birds has a special role to play in maintaining the health of the forest.

The park is home to an estimated 130 species of land birds, including migratory birds that breed at Oregon Caves, birds that pass through Oregon Caves while migrating, and year-round residents. Below are examples of some of the birds one may encounter at Oregon Caves:

Steller's Jay
Steller's Jay


Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

This large songbird was named after Georg W. Steller, a German naturalist who discovered it on an Alaskan island in 1741. Steller's jays can be found in coniferous and coniferous-deciduous forests, typically at elevations of 3,000 to 10,000 feet. They are opportunistic ground foragers, eating insects, seeds, berries, nuts, small animals, eggs, and nestlings as well as garbage and unguarded human food.

Steller's jays are also excellent mimics who are often able to imitate other birds, cats, dogs, squirrels, and mechanical objects.

mating display of sooty grouse
Mating display of male Sooty Grouse


Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)

Sooty (formerly Blue) grouse are hardy species well adapted to life in these mountains. Although their summer diet consists of insects, seeds, and fruits, they are able to digest conifer needles –something abundant in this forest but not always digestible.

In late summer they eat vaccinium (blueberry/huckleberry relative) – unique fire-adapted subalpine plant. The grouse helps disperse the plant by leaving seeds in its droppings which act like fertilizer.



Raven (Corvus corax)

This intelligent large-bodied black bird is found across western and northern North America. They are extremely adaptable to all environments ranging from heavily forested areas to open grasslands. Ravens are omnivores and will eat almost anything they can find. This includes anything from carrion (dead animals), nuts/berries, small animals, and human garbage.

Ravens are one of the most intelligent birds in the world. They have even been known to solve complex puzzles for food reward. Along with this, their intelligence can be seen in other ways. Young ravens have been observed playing games such as catch when they drop sticks and swoop down to catch them. Some ravens also store food if they come across a large supply. Like the Steller's jay, the raven is an accomplished mimic. It can imitate any sound and can even recreate the human voice.

Northern Spotted Owl holding a mouse
Northern Spotted Owl


Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis)

The Northern Spotted Owl is a nocturnal bird that hunts small mammals such as flying squirrels and woodrats. It lives in expansive old-growth forests with complex, multilayered understories such as the forest here at Oregon Caves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the Northern Spotted Owl as Threatened.

This bird is a habitat dependent species meaning any alteration to its current habitat can cause it to leave and scatter leading to the decline in population. Our designation as a monument and preserve helps protect the Northern Spotted Owl from deforestation and habitat destruction that has been threatening the species.

Last updated: May 21, 2018

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Cave Junction, OR 97523


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