Surveying Turtles

Western pond turtle

Photo by Elizabeth Sollie

During the month of July, Greenbelt surveyed freshwater turtle nesting to determine the locations of nesting areas at three of our conservation areas along the Willamette River. The information gathered from these nesting locations will guide the management and enhancement of nesting areas.

During the survey, we found two species of freshwater turtles on these sites: one of the West Coast’s only native freshwater turtle, the Western pond turtle, and the non-native Red-eared Slider. These turtles—who love to sunbathe on logs—dig their nests on land near marshes, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes and choose flat, open, sunny spots or in places that are positioned to the south with sandy, gravelly soils.

Native Western pond turtles are under threat by the invasive Red-eared sliders who compete for habitat, food and nesting sites, in addition to predation by “raccoons and invasive bullfrogs and fish” [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife].

Greenbelt typically locates nests by finding eggshells after the nest has been dug up by predators. Intact nests are much harder to find. Over the last two years, we’ve found 25 Western Pond Turtle nests and four Red-Eared Slider nests.

Thanks to Lisa Millbank, for in-the-field surveying and to our land owner partners. This survey work was made possible by grant support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Center for Natural Lands Management, and technical assistance support from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (2019) Turtles [online], available from: [accessed 9th August 2019].


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (2019) Invasive Species Fact Sheet [online], available from: [accessed 9th August 2019].