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Best Places for Fall Birding in the Yellowstone Teton Territory

Posted On
Sep 09, 2020
Category
Things to Do
Winter Recreation
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Yellowstone Activies
Activities near Yellowstone
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Description

Migrating birds make their way through Idaho along the Pacific Flyway, and the Yellowstone Teton Territory is a prime viewing location for a wide variety of species, including sandhill cranes. To make the most of viewing opportunities, be sure to bring binoculars and spotting scopes and pack water and a snack since many of the best places to spot birds are far from towns.

Check out the birding hot spots below and be sure to enjoy the region’s avian visitors at the Greater Yellowstone Crane Festival (which will be virtual in 2020).


Greater Yellowstone Crane Festival

Every September, enormous sandhill cranes—which can have wingspans of up to seven feet—descend on Teton Valley to eat their fill and rest along their migratory journey. To honor these annual visitors, the Teton Land Trust hosts the Greater Yellowstone Crane Festival which typically includes workshops, photography, poetry, drawing, dance, and plein air events along with special guided tours to get a close-up view of the birds. The best times to spot the cranes are dawn and dusk when you can witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of hundreds of birds flying up from the river in the morning and returning each evening. The third annual celebration is scheduled virtually for September 14-19, 2020.

Birding in Idaho’s Southeast Region

The Southeast Region of Idaho is packed with birding opportunities, including 47 specially designated sites along the Idaho Birding Trail. Be sure to check out the gems below and scan the Idaho Birding Trail website to learn more about these and other birding spots in the region.


Camas National Wildlife Refuge

Designated both an Idaho Birding Trail Blue Ribbon Site and an Important Birding Area, Camas National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best spots in the region to view birds. Located near Hamer, the 10,500-acre refuge is a wonderful place to spy all sorts of avian species, from songbirds to waterbirds, upland birds to raptors, and more. The refuge hosts an especially rich selection of waterbirds and waterfowl species, and its diverse array of habitat provides opportunities to view many other birds as well. Fall is a special time to visit since sandhill cranes are often present, and bald eagles are frequently spotted in the winter months.

Harriman State Park

Harriman State Park is a hot spot for many types of wildlife, including birds. This beloved state park is designated as an Idaho Birding Trail Blue Ribbon Site, and the park’s 4,700 acres offer opportunities to view raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and more. In fall, keep an eye out for American white pelicans and double-crested cormorants. Winter is the best time to see trumpeter swans.


Market Lake Wildlife Management Area

With bulrush and cattail marshes, as well as an abundance of wetland meadows, Market Lake Wildlife Management Area is a great place to see waterbirds. Fall is the best time to see American white pelicans, and spring brings up to 150,000 ducks, 40,000 snow geese, and 1,000 tundra swans. The area is designated as both an Idaho Birding Trail Blue Ribbon Site and an Important Birding Area.


Henry’s Lake Subloop

Near Macks Inn, Henry's Lake Subloop is a wonderful place to view birds from late May until the end of October. This area provides prime viewing opportunities for raptors, waterbirds, shorebirds, songbirds, and more. Keep an eye out for species like American pipits and red-breasted mergansers during summer. A variety of hawks, including red-tailed, Swainson’s, and ferruginous, are often spotted from mid-August to mid-September.