The Inland Northwest state of Idaho lies like a great wedge between the Pacific coastal states of Washington and Oregon, the mountainous state of Montana, the boreal forests of British Colombia, and the vast deserts and mountain ranges of Nevada and Utah. Habitats and terrain vary widely across the state, from low elevation shadscale deserts to alpine mountain summits. With such a great diversity of habitats, it's not surprising that nearly 400 species of birds have been recorded in Idaho.
An excellent cross-section of common to rare western US birds can be observed in Idaho from spring to late fall. A birding trip to northern and central Idaho's coniferous forest and mountain valley habitats can produce wish-birds such as Harlequin Duck, Spruce and Blue Grouse, Flammulated, Northern Pygmy, Great Gray and Boreal Owls, Black and Vaux's Swifts, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds, Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers, White-headed, Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, American Dipper, Townsend's Solitaire, Pine Grosbeak, both crossbills, and many others.
The state widens to the south, spreading across sagebrush deserts and scenic basalt cliffs on the Snake River Plain. Although much of southern Idaho is cultivated, large portions of the native sagebrush grasslands still exist. These sagebrush-covered plains, foothills, and canyons are home to birds such as Swainson's and Ferruginous Hawks, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Gray Partridge, Chukar, Greater Sage Grouse, Burrowing Owl, White-throated Swift, Gray Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Rock & Canyon Wrens, Sage Thrasher, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Brewer's, Vesper, Lark, Black-throated and Sage Sparrows, Lark Bunting, and Bullock's Oriole. The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, renowned for hosting the densest concentration of breeding raptors in North America, is also one of the best locations in Idaho for observing sagebrush-related birds.
Idaho's agricultural areas and sagebrush plains give way to juniper foothills and mountains in the south, and these areas support Common Poorwill, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Gray and Ash-throated Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Western Scrub and Pinyon Jays, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Virginia's & Black-throated Gray Warblers, Green-tailed Towhee, and Scott's Oriole.
Interspersed among the farmlands and rangelands of southern Idaho are several large reservoirs and man-made wetlands, some of which host colonial breeding bird populations and provide resting areas for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Among these are Eared, Western and Clark's Grebes, Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, White-faced Ibis, Snow and Ross's Geese, Cinnamon Teal, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson's Phalarope, Franklin's Gull, Forster's Tern, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. American Falls Reservoir, Camas National Wildlife Refuge, and Market Lake Wildlife Management Area in eastern Idaho are undeniably the state's best hotspots for water-related birds. In addition, these places frequently produce exciting rarities.
One of the best bird-watching sites in the state is at Lucky Peak in the Boise Foothills. Lucky Peak serves as an important bird migration corridor, and since 1994 the Idaho Bird Observatory has conducted avian research there. September hawk-watching features Sharp-shinned, Cooper's and Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Merlin, and others, with Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged hawk, and Peregrine Falcon occasionally seen. A wide variety of non-raptors may also be seen there in fall as well, including Blue Grouse, Dusky & Hammond's Flycatchers, Cassin's Vireo, both kinglets, Townsend's Solitaire, many warbler species, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows.
A definite must for anyone contemplating a birding trip to Idaho is a copy of A Birder's Guide to Idaho by Dan Svingen and Kas Dumroese - see the Useful Reading section below. (Also available from ABA Sales at P.O. Box 6599, Colorado Springs, CO 80934-6599)
To learn more about birding opportunities in southwestern Idaho, visit the Southwestern Idaho Birders Association (SIBA) website or, to view north Idaho's recent bird postings, see the link below.
North American Birds - Idaho-Western Montana Regional Editor
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 411
As of November 2016
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Birds in Place
- a Habitat-based Field Guide to Birds of the Northern Rockies by Radd Icenoggle Paperback 384 pages Publisher: Farcountry Press 2003
ISBN: 1560372419Buy this book from NHBS.com
An Introduction to Familiar Species (Pocket Naturalist) Waterford Press Paperback (March 1999) Waterford Press
ISBN: 1889903809Buy this book from NHBS.com
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Snake River Birds of Prey Expeditions
The Snake River "Birds of Prey" National Conservation Area is located just under 30 bird miles southwest of Boise. It is a spectacular canyon that was created by the Great Bonneville flood. Our guides focus on the Natural history, Geology & Bird watching. The guides are very informative and have been studying and working the "Birds of Prey" area for many years.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2005 [07 July] - Jan Landsverk
Places to Stay
Narrows Cottage Lakehouse - Twin Lakes Rathdrum
Lakefront North Idaho Vacation Rental - The atmosphere is one of relaxation and warmth in which you and your family can come back to after a day on the lake, or after enjoying the many area attractions such as nearby Farragut State Park…
The Maples B&B
Area Attractions and Activities: World Center for Birds of Prey, state Capitol, desert canyon & mountain day trips…
Audubon Society in Idaho
The usual list of local chapters.
Coeur D'Alene Audubon Society
Usually the first things to get cold in the body of cold weather bird watchers are our hands and feet. A bird's body is covered with down for insulation but what about it's feet? When we look at a bird's foot, we are actually looking at its toes. A bird stands, not as a man does on the flat of his foot, but on it's toes. What we often call the leg of the bird is actually an elongated tarsus (foot bone). When we watch a robin hopping or a starling walking, what appears to be it's knee bending backwards (instead of forwards as in a man) is actually the bird's heel. The bird's knee joint is higher up and hidden by feathers. With no feathers or insulated booties to keep their feet warm…
Golden Eagle Audubon Society
Serving all Southwest Idaho. The Golden Eagle Audubon Society is southwest Idaho's chapter of the National Audubon Society, a non-profit organization. We are dedicated to building an understanding and appreciation of the natural world. These pages are to inform you of our activities and invite you to join us. Be sure to come back often and read about upcoming activities and issues that are of concern to us all…
Nature Conservancy in Idaho
This entry used to read: Usual site. It still could, the difference is that the NC sites are now really excellent. They use the most stunning photos too. Welcome to The Nature Conservancy's Idaho Chapter home page. Here you'll find information on the many ways we're working to help preserve the diversity of living things by protecting the habitats they call home…
Palouse Audubon Society
The Palouse Audubon Society has been serving the Palouse region of North Central Idaho and Eastern Washington since 1973. Our chapter, headquartered in Moscow Idaho has a membership of nearly 400 people enjoying our national heritage of songbirds and wildlife. We share both the opportunities to observe songbirds and other wildlife as well as our concerns about their continued survival.
Portneuf Valley Audubon
Welcome to Southeastern Idaho & the Portneuf Valley Audubon`s web site! By promoting the conservation of natural resources, educating others about wildlife and the need to live in harmony with our surroundings, we hope to promote and safeguard the welfare of birds and their habitat…
Prairie Falcon Audubon Society
Prairie Falcon Audubon (PFA) is the south-central Idaho chapter of the National Audubon Society. Our website provides local birding resources, including hotspot guides, maps and checklists.
Snake River Audubon Society
The Snake River Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society and serves members in the Upper Snake River Valley of Eastern Idaho. Please join us for our Monthly Meetings, which are held at the Idaho Falls Public Library on the third Thursday of the month at 7:15 p.m. from September through April (except December). Newsletters are published monthly except for July, August, and December. During summer months, and throughout the year, we offer a variety of bird walks, field trips, and camping trips.
Idaho Bird Observatory
In 1993, we discovered that the Boise Ridge, just a few miles from downtown Boise, supports one of the largest known raptor and songbird migrations in the western U.S. during autumn. A long-term project has been established at Lucky Peak, the southernmost peak on the ridge, to annually count the number of migrating raptors during fall to provide reliable population trend information on western species. Long term raptor banding projects also have been established to identify migration routes, wintering areas, breeding areas, and mortality factors.
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation manages 27 state parks and three gateway visitor centers located on interstate highway entrances. We also run the registration program for snowmobiles, boats and off-highway vehicles. Money from registrations and other sources goes to develop and maintain trails, facilities and programs statewide for the people who use those vehicles…
The nearly 3,000 acres of Kootenai Wildlife Refuge are home to a variety of wildlife species, including bear, deer, and coyotes, as well as large colonies of migratory birds such as Tundra swans. Excellent birdwatching and photographic opportunities are available.
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
...More than 700 pairs of raptors nest each spring along 81 miles of the Snake River Canyon, including 150-200 pairs of Prairie Falcons (highest breeding density in the world). Other nesters include American Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks, Barred, Burrowing, Great Horned, Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet, Short-eared, and Western Screech-Owls...
Forums & Mailing Lists
IBLE (Idaho Birders Linked Electronically)
To post to list: firstname.lastname@example.org
List contact: email@example.com
To subscribe to list: firstname.lastname@example.org
A statewide (Idaho) network of people interested in birdwatching and sharing their knowledge about birds with others. Primary functions of the group are to share sightings, engage in discussions regarding wild bird habitat, behaviour and distribution. Secondarily, members are encouraged to provide information to the group about the activities of their local birding organizations, ie, club meetings, field-trips, etc.
Southwest Idaho Birders Association
To post to list: email@example.com
List contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe to list: email@example.com
The purpose of this list is to distribute official information to SIBA members and to share bird sightings with all birders throughout the state of Idaho and adjacent areas in neighboring states. The subject matter of this list will be restricted mainly to birds and bird related topics. All birders and bird clubs in Idaho are invited to participate in this E-mail list.
Birding is Fun!
Robert Mortensen began birding in the summer of 2004 when his father-in-law Lynn Davenport handed him a pair of binoculars to go on a Sunday afternoon walk at Lake Lowell (Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge) in Nampa, Idaho. It was an instant addiction…
Birds of the Air
Welcome to my blog. I am the owner/photographer of Shekinah Photography…
The creative study of birds through art, photography, and writing…
In 2007, I graduated from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and have been doing bird work ever since. I love to travel and I think I must have been a gypsy in my other life. I also write at www.nemesisbird.com…
This web site is designed to gather information on bird distribution throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.
Digital Atlas of Idaho Birds
These pages are designed to help you identifying species of birds…
Idaho Birding Trail
The Idaho Birding Trail is organized by geographical region. For the purposes of this guide, the birding trail is divided into North, East Central, Southwest and Southeast Regions…
Your comprehensive online resource for wild birds and birding in the State of Idaho…
Idaho Wildlife Viewing
including notes on, e.g. Idaho State Parks Good for Birding…
Idaho's Fish & Game
The following is a list of avian species that breed in Idaho, winter in Idaho, or migrate through Idaho. It does not include species considered rare or accidental (only 1-25 known occurrences)…
North Idaho's recent bird postings
Recent postings to mailing list in Idaho…
Pacific NW Backyard Birder
Enjoying and learning about common birds in British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and northern California…
Southeast Idaho Bird Watching Guide
Birding Trails in Southeast Idaho…
World Center for Birds of Prey
Here is an opportunity to see peregrine falcons, harpy and golden eagles up close. Observe the incubation process in springtime, view displays of all aspects o the lives of hawks and eagles, and see live bird demonstrations and the Tropical Raptor Building…
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Larry Thorngren - The Wild Photographer
A professional nature photographer, Larry Thorngren has spent many years studying animals. During his spare time Larry spent 21 years teaching science and photography in the Idaho school system. Many of his biology students have been inspired to go into careers in the natural sciences…