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As “America’s Serengheti,” the Northern Rockies are a wonderland of natural splendor. In addition to amazing wildlife, the region teems with astonishing birdlife, such as the Pine Grosbeak shown in the picture above.
Imagine catching a glimpse of an elegant blue heron while fishing! Watch spellbound as a majestic eagle swoops down and plucks a fish from a river. Admire the cute antics of waterfowl such as ducks and geese. For the best bird-watching, visit during the spring and early summer, which mark the arrival of migratory birds. Below are some of the best bird-watching spots in the Northern Rockies.
IDAHO : For a birders guide to the 175 sites and nearly 2,000 miles of birding trails in Idaho.......visit the Idaho Birding Trail managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game; many of the birdwatching sites are near to recreation sites managed by Idaho's BLM field offices .
MONTANA : Planning to go birding in Montana? Visit the Montana Birding & Nature Trail web page.
WASHINGTON : For a birders guide to eastern Washington, the Great Washington State Birding Trail / Palouse to Pines Loop is a great start.
Other outstanding birding opportunities:
- Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area – Located in British Columbia. Marvel at more than 280 species of birds, 57 species of mammals, and 29 species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. www.crestonwildlife.ca/
- Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge , Bonners Ferry, ID -- This 2,774 acre refuge was established in 1964, primarily to provide important habitat and a resting area for migrating waterfowl. http://www.fws.gov/kootenai/
- Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge , Colville, WA -- Located on the west slope of the Selkirk Mountain Range 7 miles east of Colville, it is the only mountainous, mixed-conifer forest refuge in the lower 48 states, and is 41,573 acres consisting mostly of mixed conifers. It was established in 1939 to provide a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. There are recreation trails, camping and an auto tour through this refuge. Over 200 bird species can be seen here. http://www.fws.gov/littlependoreille/
- National Elk Refuge – In addition to elk, the refuge hosts about 175 species of birds, including bald eagles, giant osprey, and great blue herons. www.fws.gov/nationalelkrefuge/
- Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Lima, MT -- One of the most renowned bird-watching areas in the Rocky Mountains. Admire the majestic trumpeter swans. 406-276-3536 www.fws.gov/redrocks/Index.htm
- Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge – Located along Wyoming’s Green River, this habitat supports mountain bluebirds, sage thrashers and sage sparrows plus over 220 other species. Sandhill cranes gather here in the fall. http://www.fws.gov/seedskadee/
- Glacier National Park – Called “North America’s Crown Jewel”. Boasts more than 700 miles of maintained trails, sparkling lakes, alpine glaciers, and deep forests. View more than 260 species of birds. www.nps.gov/glac/
- Grand Teton National Park – Grand Teton preserves a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and extraordinary birdlife. The abrupt vertical rise of the jagged Teton Range contrasts with the horizontal sage-covered valley and glacial lakes at its base, creating world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year. www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm
- Hells Canyon National Recreation Area – Hugging the borders of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho, this national showcase holds 652,488 acres of beauty and adventure, where you can let your senses run as wild as the landscape. Features North America’s deepest gorge. www.fs.fed.us/hellscanyon/
- Yellowstone National Park -- Affectionately called “Nature’s Amusement Park”. Features hundreds of bird species, including the largest population of trumpeter swans in the Lower 48. www.nps.gov/yell/
- Waterton Lakes National Park– Spanning 203 miles of mountains and wilderness. Part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, designated as a World Heritage Site for its scenery and over 250 bird species, including Canadian geese and golden eagles. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/Waterton/index_e.asp
- Sawtooth National Recreation Area – One of the largest, most magnificent National Recreation Areas in the United States. Four mountain ranges -- the Sawtooths, Boulders, White Clouds, and Smokies -- provide scenic landscapes in every direction, with more than 50 major peaks over 10,000 feet, 300 lakes, and 250 miles of trails. There are also more than 1,000 high mountain lakes. www.fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth/
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area – The canyon offers a diversified landscape of forest, mountains, upland prairie, deep canyons, broad valleys, high desert, lakes, and wetlands. www.nps.gov/BICA
- Yoho National Park – One of Canada’s 41 national parks. Yoho is home to surging waters, looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes, and patches of pretty meadows. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/index_E.asp
- Kootenay National Park – From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, Kootenay National Park is noted for its diversity of landscapes, ecology, and climate. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/kootenay/index_E.asp
- Banff National Park – Canada’s first national park. Spanning 2,564 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers, Banff is one of the world's premier destination spots. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index_E.asp