Destinations

Idaho Birding Trail
Bird snapshots Copyright Tom Munson. Snake River background image Copyright Larry Ridenhour.

Idaho Birding Trail
Part of the Idaho Fish and Game’s Watchable Wildlife program, the Idaho Birding Trail is a network of sites and side-trips that provides a guide to some of the best birding hotspots in Idaho. The 2000 miles of trail encompasses 175 birding sites in a wide variety of habitats. Interactive maps, species lists/searches, and extensive area information.
Trail Guide



A Birder’s Guide to Idaho
The definitive guidebook to Idaho birding areas. Descriptions for 112 Idaho birding sites- Includes maps, directions, which species can be found when and where. Out of print, but now available to download from Idaho Birds.


Hotspot Highlights

University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden
At edge of the town of Moscow, the U of I Arboretum and Botanical Garden is one of North Idaho’s best hotspots. From waterfowl to Red-breasted Sapsucker and Barred Owl, the diverse habitat produces a large variety of nesting and migrant species. Site information by Charles Swift. Website
Idaho Birding Trail- Moscow

Mann Lake

Red Phalarope at Mann Lake
Red Phalarope at Mann Lake, by Keith Carlson

Another North Idaho hotspot, 35 acre Mann Lake is known for waterfowl and rare shorebirds. Shoreline willows also attract migrant warblers and other songbirds, plus this is a good site for a number of fall migrants, including Vaux’s Swift. Located in the town of Lewiston.

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge/Lake Lowell
From resident and migrating songbirds to shorebirds, waterfowl and rare gulls, Lake Lowell, with it’s wooded shorelines, and surrounding farmlands can produce almost anything. Located just outside of Nampa, it is easily accessed from the Boise area. Website

Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Juvenile Swainson’s Hawk

Idaho’s sole NCA, the Snake River Birds of Prey area encompasses 485,000 acres along the Snake River in SW Idaho that is home to the greatest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America. Visitors center, educational materials, and hosted spring hikes available, along with many recreational opportunities in the area. Website

C.J. Strike Reservoir Wildlife Management Area
A large reservoir on the Snake River south of Mountain Home winds through the desert canyons. The Jack’s Creek Area has excellent songbird and shorebird habitat. This area along with the Dam area also offer excellent gull viewing. The main body of the lake is home to thousands of waterfowl year-round.

Hagerman Wildlife Management Area
The Snake River Aquifer bursts through the walls of the Snake River Canyon and cascades into the river just upstream from this refuge.  This constant influx of 58 Degree water along with numerous geothermal hot springs in the area keep the river and the myriad of small ponds free of ice all winter. This, combined with relatively mild climate and the expansive corn fields in the surrounding area, create a perfect storm for hundreds of thousands of winter waterfowl.

Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh

Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh

An expansive wetland south of Fairfield. The annual display of the Camas flowers in mid-May is not something to miss. Many species of birds inhabit the wetlands and grasslands.

Silver Creek Preserve
A Nature Conservancy property. A pristine spring fed creek meanders along the southern edge of the the Wood River Valley. World renowned as a  fly-fishing destination made famous by Ernest Hemingway in the 1930’s and 40’s, the preserve is an excellent place to view songbirds and waterfowl alike. The preserve is one of a few wintering locations for Trumpeter Swans, Several hundred spend the winter here. Website

Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge/Lake Walcott State Park
Towering cottonwood trees located on the northwest corner of Lake Walcott on the Snake River create an excellent migrant trap. Don’t miss the spillway area below the dam. Many species of wading birds, gulls and terns have been reported here.

City of Rocks National Reserve

View of City of Rocks from Castle Rocks State Park

An out of the way Gem in Southern Idaho, City of Rocks is an unexpected granite outcrop in the middle of Pinyon and Juniper pine forest. The annual Bird-A-Thon 24 hour birding competition in early June draws birders from all over the state. Highlights are Great Basin species like Pinyon Jay, Common Poorwill, and Virginia’s Warbler. Website

Camas National Wildlife Refuge

Both Idaho records of Worm-eating Warbler are from Camas NWR

One of the best migrant traps in the country, Camas has a storied history of producing rarities, including many first state records. The most productive site in the state for vagrant warblers. North end of the refuge near the headquarters has the main songbird habitat. The extensive marshes to the south are managed for waterfowl. Website

Market Lake Wildlife Management Area

Market Lake Cinnamon Teal

Camas’ little sister, Market’s windrows also attract a surprising number of migrant songbirds. Plus Market Lake is one of the best sites in Eastern Idaho for viewing waterfowl and waterbirds.

Island Park Reservoir
An Important Bird Area just outside of Yellowstone National Park. One of the most overlooked and under appreciated birding destinations in Idaho, Island Park Reservoir attracts more than its share of vagrant shorebirds and other waterbirds as well as flocks of migrant songbirds in the fall. Because of the unique accessibility, shorebirding is up close and personal. All this combined with the endless birding opportunities offered by the mountains and forests of the Island Park Caldera makes it a top choice for birders exploring eastern Idaho..
Site map and information by Cliff Weisse

South Hills
Also known as the Goose Creek Range, this small isolated mountain range south of Twin Falls forms the southern edge of the Magic Valley. Idaho’s only Global Important Bird Area.  This ‘Sky Island’ is often the first forest birds see after crossing the deserts of Nevada on their northbound migration; and the last they will see when headed south again in the fall. A varied and diverse habitat supports hundreds of species of birds including Idaho’s only endemic species: the Cassia Crossbill.

Home of Idaho Birding and the Idaho Bird Records Committee