Montana’s Trumpeter Swans
Montana is home to the largest population of trumpeter swans in the Lower 48. The beautiful trumpeter swans are the largest North American waterfowl and the world’s heaviest flying birds. See them at the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. To get there, turn off I-15 near the Idaho border at Monida and drive 28 miles east on an improved gravel road.
In Montana, Warm Springs Ponds is a wetland environment that provides habitat for resident and migrating waterfowl.
Wyoming’s Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
In Wyoming, birders should spend some time at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, located about 30 miles southwest of Farson on Highway 28 or 30 miles north of Green River on Highway 372. This riparian habitat along the Green River supports mountain bluebirds, sage thrashers and sage sparrows, plus more than 220 other species. Sandhill cranes gather here in the fall.
Along Wyoming’s Snowy Range Scenic Byway, which stretches through the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and is open from late May until October, watch for Townsend’s solitaire, mountain chickadees and cordilleran flycatchers.
Birding inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Inside Yellowstone Park, many species of birds can also be seen, including trumpeter swans, osprey, eagles, gray jays, Clark’s nutcracker, mountain chickadees, American dippers, rosy finches, great gray owls, white pelicans, common ravens, and, if you’re lucky, peregrine falcons.
We recommend the book Birds of Yellowstone by Terry McEneaney for in-depth information that will assist you when birding in Yellowstone.
Birds are abundant in Grand Teton National Park. Watch for bald eagles along the Snake River and at Oxbow Bend, as well as black rosy finch. You may also spot owls, trumpeter swans, pelicans and the three-toed woodpecker. Look for waterfowl on the gorgeous Jackson Lake. We recommend Birds of Grand Teton National Park by Bert Raynes, available from the Grand Teton Natural History Association.
Parade Rest Guest Ranch, in West Yellowstone, is the birding headquarters for Yellowstone Park and the unique Hebgen Lake area. You can spot more than 75 different species of birds amidst the ranch buildings, corrals and creeks.
Idaho’s Parks with Good Birding
In Idaho, birders will want to get their binocs out at Bear Lake State Park, where birders will see nesting mallards, pintails and canvasback ducks, as well as sandhill cranes, blue herons, egrets, Canada geese and white pelicans.
Harriman State Park also provides great birding. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River meanders through this park, and one-third of the Rocky Mountain trumpeter swan population winters here.