Western Tanager at Ponderosa
Ash-Throated Flycatcher at Three Island
Excellent birding can be found in many of Idaho’s State Parks.
Idaho Birding Fun Facts
- The Mountain Bluebird is Idaho’s state bird.
- There are 119 species of birds in Idaho that are neotropical migratory birds.
- The largest nesting colony of Western Grebes in Idaho is on Lake Cascade.
- Western Grebes will nest on the Snake River, Massacre Rocks State Park is one example.
- Harriman State Park is one of the best sites in Idaho to see Trumpeter Swans.
- 409 species of birds have been recorded in Idaho.
- A new species of birdlisted in 2017, the Cassia Crossbill is found only in southern Idaho in lodgepole pine forests in the South Hills and Albion Mountains. It is a possibility at City of Rocks National Reserve/Castle Rocks State Park.
- Lake Walcott State Park and Bear Lake State Park are both located next to National Wildlife Refuges with abundant birdlife.
The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has five sites listed as Important Bird Areas by the National Audubon Society:
City of Rocks National Reserve
One hundred and seventy-nine species have been documented in, or adjacent to, the reserve, including Long-billed Curlew, Golden Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Sage Grouse, Prairie Falcon, Red-naped Sapsucker, Gray Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Virginia’s Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Pinyon Jay.
Harriman State Park
This state park near Island Park follows the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and provides diverse habitat on its 4,700 acres, including lodgepole pine forests, lakes, marshes, and meadows. Winter is the best time to see large numbers of Trumpeter Swans, while summer and fall are key times for American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants. In spring, Silver Lake is a good place to spot Common Loon.
Henrys Lake State Park
Henrys Lake is incredible habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other waterbirds. In May 2007, migration surveys estimated 4000 waterbirds using the general area, including over 1600 Franklin’s Gulls. The lake provides habitat to Trumpeter Swans, grebes, coots, gulls, terns, pelicans, avocets, stilts, cormorants, loons, eagles, ospreys and dozens of species of ducks. Henrys Lake Flat and the rangelands and wetlands around Henrys Lake support additional populations of waterfowl and shore birds but provided critical habitat for Sandhill Cranes, Long-billed Curlews, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-herons, bitterns, Soras, Killdeer, Greater Sage Grouse, and many species of upland raptors including Swainson’s Hawks. Red-Tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and Northern Harriers.
Heyburn State Park
A Great Blue Heron rookery with 35-50 pairs of breeding herons can be found at Heyburn State Park. During the summer, Osprey, Wood Ducks, and Canada Geese use artificial nest structures, which have been monitored for 10-25 years. Red-necked Grebes and Soras nest here as well. At least 5,000-10,000 waterfowl use this site as a staging area from October to freeze-up. Most abundant species are American Wigeon, Mallards, and Canada Geese. There have been several records of vagrant birds here including Eurasian Wigeon, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren, Greater Scaup, and even a record of an Ancient Murrelet.
Lake Cascade State Park
This site is extremely important for breeding Western Grebes, with at least 1400 birds nesting here, representing up to 3% of the world’s population for this species. Bald Eagles and Osprey have nested here for many years, and have been monitored annually since the late 1970’s. American White Pelicans are observed here in summer, although not nesting as of yet. Great Gray Owls have a nest adjacent to the Gold Fork Arm of the reservoir. Common Loons occur on the reservoir but are not known to nest. Peregrine Falcons have also been observed foraging over the wetlands. This site supports large numbers and diversity of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each year.
Eagle Island State Park
The Boise River flows through the park and provides habitat for Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Blue Heron. Some of the other birds recorded in the park include Osprey, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Black-necked Stilt, Wilson’s Phalarope, Wilson’s Snipe, Killdeer, Great Egret, Sora, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Loggerhead Shrike, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, and Cliff Swallow.
Idaho Birding Trail
The Idaho Birding Trail is a source of information for birding in 250 areas in Idaho, including many of Idaho’s State Parks.
Visit these Idaho state parks for exceptional Birding opportunities: