The Blitzen Valley, named for the Donner and Blitzen River which it contains, is fed from the runoff of snowpack from the Steens Mountain, shown in the background of this image. This is a true “Annapurna” effect, where the mountain–in this case the largest fault block mountain on the planet–feeds a vibrant and richly diverse ecosystem of plant and animal life in the valley below, and creates the fresh water marshes which attract the vast flocks of migratory birds in this otherwise desert region of Oregon. This is the Oregon extension of the Great Basin of the Western U.S. This Blitzen Valley and the marshes to the north which form the Malheur Lake are the core of the famous Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Every year in early April the Migratory Bird Festival is held in the city of Burns, just north of the refuge, attracting bird enthusiasts from all over the U.S. to witness this spectacle. Click on image to enlarge.