10 Beautiful Places to Birdwatch in Idaho

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With birdwatching, which is actively searching for birds as opposed to birdwatching, Idaho might not be the first place to think about doing it. In fact, Idaho’s state bird is the mountain bluebirdwhich was adopted in 1931. Yet The Gem State sparkles with plenty of opportunities for birdwatchers to see winged wildlife at rest or in motion.



With the Idaho Birdwatching Trailit’s now easier to know locations across Idaho for birding with this information network. This project was started in 2005, and the State House passed a resolution the following year recognizing it as the state’s official birding trail. Since then, the online version of Idaho Birding Trail has been updated to now offer over 250 visitor sites. There’s also more help in reaching them with the addition of new GPS coordinates and eBird information. Those who log onto the trail’s website can click through an interactive map categorized by northern, east-central, southwest, and southeast regions of the state.

Here are ten places to watch birds in Idaho, some of which are featured on the trail.

Related: What to know about the Great Florida Birding Trail

ten Greater Yellowstone Crane Festival

Every fall and spring, Idaho becomes the perfect place to see thousands of sandhill cranes while they rest from their migratory route. Bird watchers who are big crane fans should consider connecting with other aficionados at Greater Yellowstone Crane Festival in the Teton Valley. Taking place in its fifth year in 2022, the week-long festival celebrates the migration of sandhill cranes and runs from September 12-17. During this week, bird-loving festival-goers can pre-register for activities ranging from morning tours led by naturalists that circumnavigate crane habitats, to screenings of a documentary film about conservation efforts in the heart of the ‘America. Besides the festival, there are a number of places birdwatchers can go to see sandhill cranes.


9 world center for birds of prey

As the home of the Peregrine Fund, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise carries out the fund’s mission to conserve raptors worldwide. In September, the center welcomes the public to their “Autumn Flights” series held every weekend until November. Center staff will bring their educational birds outside for guided flight demonstrations. Hawks, owls and hawks will soar and swoop amidst the seated crowd. Tickets must be purchased in advance to attend these events. In addition, in September, the World Center for Birds of Prey organizes an annual meeting Condor public release where people can also come and see captive-bred California condors being released into the wild. Aside from events, the center can be visited during scheduled hours and offers other educational programming on-site.


8 Lucky Peak State Park

Ten miles east of Boise, Ada County, Lucky Peak State Park is known for its many outdoor activities, but it’s also the location of the Intermountain Bird Observatory. The observatory is a nonprofit academic research and community outreach program at Boise State University that benefits conservation through a trio of research, education, and community engagement. At Lucky Peak State Park, the main 24/7 observatory research site is open daily to the public during the fall migration between July 16 and October 28. Visitors can watch observatory workers catching and banding bird speciesincluding songbirds, hawks and owls.


seven Grays Lake Wildlife Refuge

In southeastern Idaho, this sanctuary not only protects part of Grays Lake, which is a large bulrush marsh that supports what is called the largest breeding population of sandhill cranes in North America. Additionally, according to its website, the National Wildlife Refuge System has recorded nearly 250 species of birds in Grays Lake Wildlife Refuge, with 100 of them known to nest within its perimeters. Besides sandhill cranes, other bird species include waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The Grays Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is also a nesting habitat for colonial birds, in particular a large mixed colony of white-faced ibises and Franklin’s gulls.


6 Morley Nelson Snake River National Birds of Prey Conservation Area

South of Boise, this rugged conservation area overseen by the Bureau of Land Management boasts one of the largest concentrations of breeding birds of prey in North America. In the spring, some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and hawks are said to come to the Morley Nelson Snake River National Birds of Prey Conservation Area to mate and care for their young. Still, fall is an awesome time to come here, as raptors can be seen soaring through the air and also hunting.

Related: This forest is one of Africa’s most famous birdwatching forests


5 Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

Also, in northern Idaho and near the Selkirk Mountains, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is a place for more than 300 species of wildlife, of which 223 species of birds have been seen here. They also come at different times of the year. According to the shelter website, bald eagles circle in the fall in search of prey and linger in the winter. Spring brings more bird species, including Tundra Swans and Canada Geese, but later in the season songbirds and waterfowl come to nest.

4 Hagerman Wildlife Management Area

Also called Hangman WFA, this preserve is completely duck. According to their website, over 40,000 ducks and geese come to the WMA for the winter. In fact, this reserve was established to provide habitat for upland waterfowl and game birds, as well as other wildlife and plants native to this region in the 1940s. According to their website, some Parts of this WMA are closed to the public during winter and spring to protect the birds that call them home. The topography is also cool, with open water ponds, wetlands and sagebrush.


3 Camas National Wildlife Reserve

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In a farming community in southeast Idaho, Camas National Wildlife Reserve has birdwatching as one of its biggest public activities. This refuge is home to many migratory birds. Depending on how much time you have, you can ride a short or long route. For those short on time, drive a 3.5-mile-long self-drive route; if you have an hour to spare, take the seven-mile loop around the refuge, where you can see more wildlife. On their website, the Friends of Camas has compiled a list of waterfowl that can be seen at Camas National Wildlife Refuge, including the greater white-fronted goose, trumpeter swan, American wigeon, and blue-winged teal.


2 Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge sits on land encompassing Lake Lowell and is a breeding ground for migrating birds and wildlife. Aside from the lake, the refuge is also made up of the Snake River Islands, which is a collection of 104 islands. The refuge’s bird population is spread throughout the year. At various times throughout the spring, the season brings resident Canada geese, bald eagles, osprey, and horned owls, among other species, into sight. Summer welcomes Western Grebes and later Mallards and Wood Ducks; many species of shorebirds come here too. Fall begins to see migration patterns change, then winter sees an increase in the refuge’s duck population. Mallards are plentiful, but there are other species, such as green-winged teal and a variety of geese.


1 CJ Strike Wildlife Management Area

This large area of ​​land and reservoirs southwest of Boise is where large numbers of residents and migrants waterfowl are present during their migration and winter periods. It is positioned on the Pacific Flyway. According Audubonbird species in CJ Strike Wildlife Management Area include snow geese, trumpeter swans, tundra swans and dabbling ducks; in winter, it is possible to see loons, the golden eagle and the rough-legged buzzard.

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