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  • Writer's pictureEdward Leonard

Looking for Bluebirds on Umptanum Road, Ellensburg WA

First Chatgpt Attempt:

In the heart of the Pacific Northwest lies a hidden gem for bird enthusiasts - Umptanum Road in Ellensburg, Washington. As a van camper in my fifties with a passion for exploring nature's wonders, this scenic route has become a sanctuary for me, offering not just breathtaking landscapes but also a diverse array of avian species waiting to be discovered.

My journey along Umptanum Road begins with the soft purr of my camper van's engine as it navigates the winding path through rugged terrain. Tall grasses sway in the gentle breeze, while distant mountains stand sentinel against the horizon. It's a scene straight out of a postcard, a reminder of the unspoiled beauty that still thrives in our world.

As I venture deeper into the wilderness, my senses come alive with the sights and sounds of the avian inhabitants that call this place home. The air is filled with the melodious trill of songbirds, their vibrant plumage flashing amidst the foliage. From the majestic bald eagles soaring overhead to the tiny warblers flitting among the branches, each sighting is a testament to the rich biodiversity of this region.

But it's not just the birds themselves that captivate me; it's the sense of connection they evoke, a reminder of our shared kinship with all living creatures. As I watch a family of ospreys tend to their nest or observe a flock of sandhill cranes perform their intricate mating dance, I'm reminded of the delicate balance of nature and our role in preserving it for future generations.

One of the highlights of my journey along Umptanum Road is the opportunity to witness the annual migration of raptors as they make their way south for the winter. Perched atop a rocky outcrop, I watch in awe as a procession of hawks, falcons, and eagles ride the thermals, their keen eyes scanning the landscape below for prey. It's a sight that leaves me humbled by the sheer power and grace of these magnificent birds.

But perhaps the most magical moments are those unexpected encounters with elusive species that reveal themselves only to those patient enough to wait. Whether it's the iridescent flash of a hummingbird hovering near a wildflower or the haunting call of an owl echoing through the night, each sighting is a treasure to be cherished.

As I bid farewell to Umptanum Road, I carry with me not just memories of the birds I've encountered, but a profound appreciation for the natural world and the wonders it holds. In a time when our planet faces unprecedented challenges, places like this serve as reminders of the beauty and resilience of our natural heritage.

So, to my fellow travelers and birdwatchers alike, I urge you to embark on your own journey along Umptanum Road. Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast or a curious novice, the sights and sounds you'll encounter are sure to leave an indelible mark on your soul. After all, in the words of John Muir, "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."


Ok so given it is spring, it doesn't quite work to talk about the raptors migrating south for the winter. I changed my instructions slightly to Chatgpt for the next attempt:

In the heart of Washington's stunning landscape lies a road less traveled, yet rich with avian treasures waiting to be discovered. Umptanum Road in Ellensburg is not just a thoroughfare; it's a sanctuary for birdwatchers, a haven where the beauty of nature unfolds in a symphony of feathers and song. As a van camper in my fifties, drawn to the serenity of the open road and the allure of winged marvels, Umptanum Road has become a cherished destination, offering an intimate glimpse into the lives of some of the region's most captivating birds, including the mountain bluebird, western bluebird, and sage thrasher.

My journey along Umptanum Road begins with the soft rumble of tires against gravel, the familiar hum of my camper van echoing the rhythm of my heart as anticipation builds. The air is crisp with the promise of morning, and the landscape unfolds like a canvas painted in hues of green and gold. It's a scene that never fails to stir the soul, a reminder of the vastness and beauty of the natural world.

As I navigate the winding road, my eyes scan the horizon in search of movement, my ears attuned to the melodic calls that fill the air. And then, like a stroke of serendipity, I spot them - a pair of mountain bluebirds perched atop a weathered fence post, their vibrant azure plumage a striking contrast against the backdrop of sagebrush and sky. In that moment, time seems to stand still as I drink in the sight, marveling at the bird's delicate beauty and the effortless grace of its flight.

But the mountain bluebird is just the beginning of the avian spectacle that awaits along Umptanum Road. As I continue my journey, I encounter the western bluebird, its azure wings and rusty breast a testament to the diversity of color and form in the avian world. And then, amidst the sagebrush and scrubland, I catch sight of the elusive sage thrasher, its cryptic plumage blending seamlessly with its surroundings as it forages for insects and seeds.

Each sighting is a moment of magic, a reminder of the wonders that await those willing to venture off the beaten path. And as I sit beneath the endless expanse of sky, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature's bounty, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the privilege of bearing witness to such beauty.

In the end, Umptanum Road is more than just a destination; it's a journey of discovery, a chance to reconnect with the natural world and the creatures that call it home. And as I bid farewell to this enchanting place, I carry with me not only memories of the birds I've encountered but also a renewed sense of wonder and awe for the miracles of flight and feather that grace our planet.


Closer, but still didn't represent my birding experience yesterday. I didn't have a lot of time yesterday so I was looking for a relatively quick trip to spot my first bluebirds of the year. Umptanum Rd in Ellensburg has been the most reliable spot in my experience to see both the Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird. I find the Mountain Bluebird breathtaking. The road itself is unpaved and provides miles of visibility across the shrub-steppe, but you never have to look to far as bluebird boxes line the road. It can get a bit dusty as non-birds barrel down the road.

Although today was a quick trip, I will be back when I can go further along the road where I might get to see/hear Rock Wrens or Canyon Wrens, Prairie Falcons, and potentially a White-breasted Nuthatch.

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