John Day Fossil Beds


Marsha and I visited the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in the Painted Hills (Birding Oregon p. 34). This site offers a great combination of beautiful scenery, a museum with excellent fossil specimens, and, of course, a few birds of the sage steppe and rimrock habitats.


This skull replica graces the courtyard in front of the museum. Just above, several Cliff Swallows were building their mud nests.

The sage around the center held several Western Meadowlarks and Western Kingbirds

A pair of Say’s Phoebes had a nest in a shed by the monument headquarters, just down the road from the museum.

These birds would perch on a set of Mule Deer antlers mounted above the door before entering the shed to attend the nest. The fact that this bird is carrying food indicates that the eggs have hatched.

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2 Responses to John Day Fossil Beds

  1. Michele says:

    Looks like you had a good time. I’d have to give the camera (and the photographer) a thumbs up! Those Cliff Swallows are so cool.

  2. Joel says:

    I noticed this while checking out the curlew photo. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is indeed worth a visit. However, your readers may be confused by the reference to the Painted Hills. The Painted Hills are in another unit of the national monument, and are on the other (west) side of the town of Mitchell, in Wheeler County. So the Painted Hills are part of the monument, rather than the other way around. Some of the same geologic formations, as seen in the Painted Hills unit, do outcrop in the Sheep Rock unit of the monument (which you describe here). All three units of the monument (the Clarno unit near Fossil is the other) are well worth a visit, for the scenery and geology as well as birding interest.

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