State of Wyoming

Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta ©USFWSmidwest - Creative Commons Website
Birding Wyoming

Wyoming is the least populated state in the US, covering about 97,809sq miles [253,326sq km], yet with a population of about 465,000 people. The topography and environments of the state are very diverse, the average elevation is about 4,500ft above sea level. The lowest elevation is in the north east corner at 3,009ft [912m] where the Belle Fouche River enters South Dakota, the highest point is Gannet Peak in the west central portion of the state in the Wind River Mountains at 13,804ft [4183m]. The topography of the state is mostly easily conceived of in thirds, reaching north to south. Wyoming is about 260 mile north to south and 300 miles east to west. Because of the dry climate and rugged terrain, more of the worlds geologic history is exposed to view here than anywhere else on the planet.

The eastern third consists of high short grass prairie and broken badlands, bordered on the northeast by the Black Hills (Mt. Rushmore); and on the west by the Bighorn Mountains. Between the Black Hills and the Big Horn Mountains lies the Thunder Basin National Grassland, the buffalo hunting grounds and homeland to the Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians, and the site of many battles. It’s a good place to view prairie-dog towns and see Burrowing Owls, Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcons, and Sharp-tailed Grouse.

The centre of the state is most easily conceived of as series of basins, long rolling hills of Sage Brush, scattered with evaporative salt flats covered with Salt Brush, with high snow-capped mountains always visible in the background. First on the south is the Continental Divide Basin, holding the Red Desert, the largest unfenced area in the Continental US, with its unique desert Wapiti, large herds of pronghorn antelope, wild horses, and desert ponds important to migrating birds. North of the Red Desert over arange of hills, lies the Wind River Basin opening like a great fan with its handle to the west, tucked between the meeting of the Wind River Mountains and their northerly neighbours the Absaroka Mountains. The Wind River Basin stretches east more than 100 miles to the edge of the Laramie Mountains to the south and the southern end of the Big Horn Mountains to the north. The north side of the basin is bounded by the Owl Creek Mountains connecting the Absaroka Mountains to the Big Horn Mountains.

The Wind River flowing out of the western mountains makes an improbable turn, instead of flowing east to the adjacent prairies, it takes a sharp left turn straight through the heart of the Owl Creeks to form the Wind river Canyon, one of the most revealing sites of geologic history in the world, the river through the canyon is warmed by hot springs and shelters large flocks of waterfowl all winter. As the Wind River exits the north side of the mountains it has become the Bighorn River and flows north into the Big Horn Basin. The eastern edge of the basin is flanked by the Bighorn Mountains, the western edge by the Absaroka Mountains and to the north 100 miles away on the Montana border are the Pryor Mountains, the heart of the homeland of the Crow Indians.

Visibility in the Big Horn Basin on an average day is 60 to 100 miles. Sage Grouse is the bird of the basins, though summer will find areas with nesting populations of Mountain Plover and Greater Curlew. Large lakes support several species of gulls and terns as well as white pelicans and double crested cormorants. Irrigated farmlands have nesting Sandhill Cranes and Wilson Snipe. Water, wherever it is found will support a variety of waterfowl and shore birds. Bald Eagles are resident, but winter brings concentrations of migrants along all the larger rivers.

The Western portion of the state is a series of mountain ranges, north to south, with confused river drainage systems. In the centre of this portion of the state is the continental divide, within just a few miles of each other, begin the three great river drainages of the western US. The Colorado, the Missouri, and the Snake Rivers. The Northwestern corner of Wyoming is occupied by the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. The greater area around Yellowstone National Park is called the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, not only is it the last large intact ecosystem in the continental US, it holds the largest most diverse population of large mammals in North America. It also contains one of the largest roadless areas in the continental U.S. It is home to grizzly bear, wolves, puma, wolverine, wapiti, moose, mule deer, white tail deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. Yellowstone is the southern end of the range of the Great Grey Owl, home to Trumpeter Swans, and Whooping Cranes occasional migrate along its western edge.

There are over 260 species of birds found in Wyoming. Some of the rarest are Trumpeter Swans, Mountain Plover, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Goshawk, and Peregrine Falcon. There are many north-south running rivers in the state and these are busy spring and fall corridors for migrating birds. Many geese and ducks will over winter here if the rivers don’t freeze solid. Winters can be quite cold -40F degrees, and a summers hot +100F degree, neither extreme is uncommon, temperature differences between night and day are typically 20F to 40F. [Thehighest temperature recorded +114F(+45C); the lowest temperature recorded -63F(-53C)]. The mountains normally receive heavy snow cover, the eastern prairie moderate precipitation, while the central basins, caught between mountain ranges are quite dry. Birds that live here year round are very hardy animals. Horned Larks, and Towndsend’s Solitaire come to mind as two of the hardiest, but there are also the ubiquitous Robin, Waxwings, Black-billed Magpies and quite a few others.

Excellent birding can be had just about anywhere there is water. Most of the state is very dry and life flows to water just as water flows down hill. The major river drainages are a good place to start. The North Fork of the Platte River in south east Wyoming, the Big Horn and Shoshonie Rivers in the central region, Yellowstone Lake and River in the Park, the Snake River and Jackson’s Hole along the Grand Teton Mountains, the Green River and Flaming Gorge in the southwest. Summer drives through any of the mountain ranges will produce abundant bird watching opportunities.

Wyoming is the quintessential American west, with its wide-open vistas, low human population density, amazingly spectacular vista and colours created by its exposed geology, abundant wildlife, and western charm it is a great place to visit. It is both wild and friendly at the same time. About 80% of Wyoming is in government ownership and open to the public for recreation.

Contributors
  • Sean Sheehan

    | ssheehan@tritel.net

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 445

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta

Checklist

  • Checklist

    WebBirder Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Birder's Guide to Wyoming

    by Oliver Scott Paperback | American Birding Association | 1992 | Spiralbound | 246 pages, B/w photos, illustrations, maps | ISBN: 1878788027 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Wyoming

    by Douglas W Faulkner | Roberts and Company Publishers | 2010 | Hardback | 403 pages, Colour photos, maps | ISBN: 9781936221028 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Wyoming Field Guide

    (Includes Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks) | By Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2017 | Paperback | 348 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9781591937258 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Wyoming Birds

    (A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2003 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 158355226X Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • Audubon Society in Wyoming

    Website
    Offices & Chapters
  • Audubon Rockies

    Website
    The regional office of the National Audubon Society for Wyoming and Colorado.
  • Bighorn Audubon Society

    Website
    Bighorn Audubon offers engaging programs, field trips to observe birds, and conservation campaigns. Bighorn Audubon is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the National Audubon Society. The local chapter is the core strength of the Audubon network and plays a critical role on behalf of birds, wildlife and people.
  • Cheyenne High Plains Audubon

    Website
    Serving the communities of Laramie County, Platte County, Goshen County. Monthly meetings will normally be held in the Laramie County Library at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month, from September through April (except December). The included lectures are free and open to the public. Look for details as to topic and speaker in the newsletter....
  • Laramie Audubon Society

    Website
    Laramie Audubon Society promotes the conservation and appreciation of birds and other wildlife through education, outreach, and habitat stewardship. Officers and Board members are elected by our membership at the November public meeting.
  • Meadowlark Birding Club

    Website
    In April 2018 the Board of Directors disbanded the Meadowlark Audubon Society as a member of the National Audubon Society. The current plan is to continue the club as an independent unincorporated birding club. We are a community of citizen conservationists in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming, with a focus on birds and birding. We aim to be conscientious, collaborative and inquisitive regarding all things related to our area's abundant natural resources and its management.
  • Murie Audubon Society

    Website
    The Mission of Murie Audubon Society is to promote the conservation of birds and other wildlife through education and enhancements of natural habitats, understanding, appreciation, conservation and advocacy. Our vision is to instill a passion for nature in present and future generations through awareness, enjoyment, understanding, appreciation, conservation and advocacy.
  • Nature Conservancy in Wyoming

    Website
    Wyoming's wild spaces and working places live on—more so than in most places in the West. But our natural treasures aren’t a secret anymore. And our wide open spaces are no longer endless. We believe the best way to preserve Wyoming’s way of life is to support the people who have protected it all along. To convene and collaborate with landowners, government, industry and other conservation groups…
  • Red Desert Audubon Society

    Website
    P.O. Box 882, Lander, WY 82520 - Contact Person: Bob Hargis
  • Red Desert Audubon Society

    Website
    PO Box 882 82520, Lander - WY - US - reddesertaudubon@gmail.com - The Red Desert Audubon Society is a non-profit chapter of the National Audubon Society based in Lander, Wyoming. We are dedicated to protecting and appreciating Wyoming's birds and their habitats. We promote the ideals of the National Audubon Society, to "conserve and restore natural ecosystems" across west-central and southwestern Wyoming through outreach, education, and opportunities to take part in citizen science.
  • Wyoming Bird Records Committee

    Webpage
    The Wyoming Bird Records Committee was formed in 1989. It consists of five voting members who evaluate and offer opinions on records and new species. The Committee`s three main functions are (1) to solicit, organize and maintain records, documentation, photographs, tape recordings and other materials relative to occurrence of birds in Wyoming; (2) to review reports of rare species or species new to the State and to maintain an official list of the birds recorded in Wyoming; (3) to disseminate useful and pertinent material concerning the field identification of Wyoming birds. They request that all documentation of rare birds in the State be sent to their address.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Garden Creek Audubon Center

    WebpageSatellite View
    101 Garden Creek Road, Casper, WY 82604 - Phone: 307-473-1987
  • IBA Alkali and Beck Lakes

    InformationSatellite View
    Alkali and Beck Lakes are located just southeast of Cody, Wyoming. The lakes and surrounding area support wetland and open water habitats that are heavily used by many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, and landbirds. The area features a network of (both natural and manmade) shallow ponds. The site is a major staging area for fall and spring migration. It also is a year round food source for landbirds. It is a nesting area for Ruddy Ducks, coots, grebes, blackbirds, and loons.
  • IBA Alpine Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    The Alpine Wetland is located on the boarder of Idaho and Wyoming, just south of Alpine, Wyoming at the mouth of the Snake River inlet and Palisades Reservoir. The wetland unit consists of numerous constructed ponds and conals that provide productive breeding and staging areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, and Neotropical migrants.
  • IBA Loch Katrine Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    This natural intermittent lake is augmented by oil field produced water to form a wetland marsh and shallow lake habitat of approximately 850 acres. The surrounding prairie grasslands and rocky ridges provide important habitat to several priority species for Wyoming.
  • NF Bridger-Teton

    WebpageSatellite View
    With its 3.4 million acres, the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming is the second largest National Forest outside Alaska. Included are more than 1.2 million acres of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Teton, Gros Ventre, and Bridger Wildernesses. It is a land of varied recreational opportunities, microclimates, and abundant wildlife. Its spacious skies are punctuated by awesome mountain ranges south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks which include the Teton, Gros Ventre, Wind, and Wyoming ranges, which rise vertically from 5,900 to 13,785 feet. From these ranges, spring the headwaters of the Green, Snake and Yellowstone Rivers. The Forest is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining area of undeveloped lands in the conterminous United States.
  • NP Grand Teton

    WebpageSatellite View
    Today the park encompasses nearly 310,000 acres and protects the Teton Range, Jackson Hole (mountain valley); a 50-mile portion of the Snake River, seven morainal lakes, over 100 backcountry and alpine lakes, and a wide range of wildlife and plant species…
  • NP Yellowstone

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Our website is dedicated to Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding communities. Yellowstone vacations start here. Plan your entire trip to Yellowstone - from hiking, fishing and camping, to guided tours and snowmobiling. Whether you prefer cabins, hotels, or a cozy lodge, you can book your lodging accommodations here…
  • NR IBA Bird Island

    InformationSatellite View
    Bird Island American White Pelican Nesting Colony is located at Pathfinder Reservoir, about 70km northeast of Rawlins, WY, east of Hwy 287. The nesting island is 1788m in elevation and when the reservoir reaches strorage capacity the relief of the island is 4.9m at its highest point. The area contains more than 1% of the world?s breeding population of American White Pelicans and therefore has not only been designated an IBA in Wyoming but a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. Double-crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, California Gull?s and Caspian Terns also use the area to nest.
  • NWR Bamforth

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge is closed to the public and is unstaffed. Bamforth NWR is administered by Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado.
  • NWR Cokeville Meadows

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge occupies 26,657 acres (106 km2) of wetlands along a 20 mile (32 km) stretch of the Bear River that is regarded as the finest redhead duck habitat in the region, and one of the best migratory bird sanctuaries in Wyoming. Other bird species known to inhabit the refuge include white-faced ibis, snowy egret, long-billed curlew, great blue heron, American bittern, and black-crowned night heron. bald and golden eagles as well as peregrine falcons nest on the refuge in spring and fall. Cokeville Meadows is currently closed to the public except for a wildlife viewing station, because it is new and has no visitor services.
  • NWR Hutton Lake

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge was set aside in 1932 to protect habitat for migratory bird species and other indigenous plants and animals. Hutton Lake NWR is administered by the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado.
  • NWR Mortenson Lake

    InformationSatellite View
    The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Mortensen Lake NWR is a high altitude refuge and has several small alpine lakes of which Mortenson Lake is the largest.
  • NWR Pathfinder

    InformationSatellite View
    The reservoir is used by numerous migratory bird species. The Pronghorn is commonly found on the refuge.
  • NWR Seedskadee

    InformationSatellite View
    220 species of birds have been identified on the refuge including migratory bird species that use the refuge for nesting. Trumpeter swans, bald eagles, sage grouse, and numerous species of ducks can be found...
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Wyobirds

    Mailing List
    This list is created by a Wyoming birder, for current (and prospective) birders in the region. It is designed to provide a forum for avian biology, birding, bird id, and any other related avifauna topics. It also serves as a means to communicate bird sightings (rare and otherwise). Birders, Ornithologists, Biologists, naturalists, and backyard birders alike are welcome to subscribe and submit.
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Bird Treks

    Tour Operator
    Bird Treks has been providing small group and custom birding tours for over 20 years. Visit their website to see the incredible tours available, including the amazing birds and mammals of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks!
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2013 [01 January] - Terry McEneaney - Yellowstone in Winter

    Report
    …Another relatively rare sighting was of 5 Trumpeter Swans flying over the Old Faithful geyser just before it erupted in a column of steam. This is a very rare sighting for birds in this thermal area, especially in the winter. We also saw a record number of 181 Common Redpolls for the trip, 175 of them in Yellowstone NP….
  • 2014 [01 January] - Terry & Karen McEneaney - Yellowstone in Winter

    Report
    The 2014 Field Guides Yellowstone In Winter tour materialized into a wonderful experience, right up there as one of the best. 2014 also marked the 15th anniversary of our inception of the YIW tour. We think it offers a perfect Yellowstone winter experience, combining Yellowstone birds and mammals with the field experience of your guides, former rangers in the park….
  • 2015 [01 January] - Terry & Karen McEneaney - Yellowstone in Winter

    Report
    ...Red Crossbills feeding on Lodgepole Pine cone seeds in early morning light; Rough-legged Hawks following snowstorms in search of voles; American Dippers diving for submerged invertebrate prey...
  • 2017 [01 January] - Peter J Dunn - Yellowstone National Park

    Report
    Yellowstone National Park is world famous for its thermal activity and especially ‘Old Faithful’ geyser; however, the wildlife is also special and the reintroduction of wolves back in the 1995 has been a big draw for wildlife watchers and locals alike...
  • 2017 [09 September] - Woody Wheeler - Yellowstone National Park: Birding & Wildlife

    PDF Report
    ...On a crisp, sunny fall day, our guests arrived in Jackson, Wyoming. We promptly loaded the vans and droveto the Flat Creek viewing area on the edge of town. Here a family of Trumpeter Swans paddled into an openstretch of water illuminated by the afternoon sun. They were accompanied by an array of ducks and grebesincluding Ring-necked Duck, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Eared and Pied-billed Grebes...
  • 2017 [10 October] - Peter Dunn - Yellowstone in the Fall

    Report
    Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, covers nearly 9,000 square kilometres of mountains, forests, lakes and grasslands and is one of the United States’ foremost wildlife reserves. It is home to both Grizzly Bear and Grey Wolf, plus North American Bison, Moose, Black Bear and an interesting variety of birds. In the ‘Fall’, as the days shorten and the colours of the landscape change from the greens of summer to a rich autumnal palette of russet, orange and gold, the mammals are busy preparing for the winter ahead and the resident birds are augmented by migrants from further north.
  • 2018 [10 October] - Woody Wheeler

    PDF Report
    Fall does not get any better than travelling the stretch of highway between Jackson and Yellowstone Park through the always majestic Grand Teton National Park. Its majesty was further enhanced by vivid fall colors of Quaking Aspen and Great Basin Cottonwood...
Places to Stay


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Jakey's Fork Homestead B&B

    Accommodation
    Through the gardens and down the boardwalk are the original sod covered homestead buildings. North of them lay the original stable and corrals. To the south, the pond attracts a variety of birds, deer, moose and other wildlife.
  • Melissa's Cottages

    Accommodation
    These quaint 1900’s cottages located near historic downtown Sheridan all provide very spacious home getaways. Each cottage is unique with it's own varied architectural or decorating details, including hardwood/tile floors, plush or oriental carpets and other details to add to their charm.
Other Links
  • Bald Eagle Viewing Directory

    Webpage
    A stretch of the Snake River just N and S of Jackson, from jackson Lake to the Idaho border. Bald eagles year round; about 30 pairs in summer and 50 to 100 birds in winter. In summer, float down river through Grand Teton National Park to see eagles.
  • List of birds of Yellowstone National Park

    Information
    This list of birds of Yellowstone National Park includes every wild bird species reported in Yellowstone National Park in the last 50 years. Since its creation in March, 1872, 318 species of birds have been documented in the park.
  • Wyoming Birds

    Website
    Wyomingbirds.com is designed to provide information for those interested in wild birds. Our specific goals including providing information in the following categories: Information on feeding birds; Information on birds and events, primarily relating to some aspect of backyard birds; Information broader in scope including new products and wild bird related news and events
Blogs
  • Cheyenne Bird Banter

    BLOG
    About birds and birding in Southeast Wyoming

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