Inspiration for this page came from PCEI Board members Paul Charpentier and Judy Meuth. Writing and photo credits: Casey Lowder, PCEI Restoration Technician/AmeriCorps member.
A remnant of the Palouse prairie ecosystem that dominated the Palouse region until recent centuries awaits you at a verdant little spot in Whitman County called Rose Creek Nature Preserve. This jewel of a property was set aside more than 50 years ago by avid birders, George and Bess Hudson, as a place for native habitats to be restored and experienced by the public.
In addition to Palouse prairie, Rose Creek Nature Preserve hosts a mature riparian ecosystem including thickets of hawthorn and red-osier dogwoods and stands of aspen. The adjacent Hudson Biological Reserve at Smoot Hill, includes even more Palouse Prairie as well as upland pine forest habitat. The variety of robust habitats in a relatively small geographic area creates a magnet for birds. Less than a half-hour drive from both Moscow and Pullman, PCEI’s Rose Creek Nature Preserve offers pleasant walking trails and a wide array of bird species to look for in any season.
A look at a satellite map of Rose Creek Preserve shows that the area stands out from the surrounding land like a green oasis. This feature may be one factor that makes Rose Creek a top spot for birding in our region. Migrating birds use Rose Creek as important stop-over habitat to refuel as they make their long journey north in the spring and back south in the fall. Summer and winter resident birds utilize the food and shelter that the habitats provide year-round. Recognizing the excellent birding that Rose Creek offers, the Washington Audubon Society included it in The Great Washington State Birding Trail – Palouse to Pines Loop.
Rose Creek Preserve is an eBird hotspot that has nearly 200 checklists reported. eBird is a web-based tool that allows users to record and share their bird observations at locations, or hotspots, across the world. eBird data is used by scientists, conservationists, and educators to study bird distribution changes, make conservation decisions and share knowledge about the natural world.
According to eBird, 129 species of birds have been observed at Rose Creek with the first checklist submitted in 1980 and more checklists are submitted every month. We invite you to come out and see what birds you can find while enjoying some of the best examples of native ecosystems in our region.