State of Wyoming

Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa ©Dubi Shapirio Website

Wyoming is a landlocked state in the Mountain West sub-region of the Western United States. It borders Montana to the north and northwest, South Dakota and Nebraska to the east, Idaho to the west, Utah to the southwest, and Colorado to the south. It is the least populated but the tenth largest state in the US, covering over 250,000 km² (c.98,000 square miles) yet with a population of just c.580,000 people it is the second most sparsely populated. The state capital and most populous city is Cheyenne, with a population of c.65.000.

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 c.900m (3,000ft) [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 over 4,000m (c.14,000ft). 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 federal government owns just under half of Wyoming’s land, generally protecting it for public uses including two national Parks; Grand Teton and Yellowstone, two national recreation areas, two national monuments, and several national forests, as well as historic sites, fish hatcheries, and wildlife refuges.

Grand Tetons from Oxbow Bend ©Jacob Roalef

Wyoming’s climate is generally semi-arid and continental and is drier and windier in comparison to most of the United States with greater temperature extremes. Much of this is due to the topography of the state. Summers in Wyoming are warm with July high temperatures averaging between 27 °C and 32 °C in most of the state. With increasing elevation, however, this average drops rapidly with locations above 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Summer nights throughout the state are characterised by a rapid cooldown. In most of the state, most of the precipitation tends to fall in the late spring and early summer. Winters are cold, but are variable with periods of sometimes extreme cold interspersed between generally mild periods, with Chinook winds providing unusually warm temperatures in some locations. Wyoming is a dry state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall per year.

Birding Wyoming

The eastern third of Wyoming 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 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 a range 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.

Yellowstone National Park and the Lamar Valley©Jacob Roalef

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 US. 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 overwinter 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. 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 Townsend’s Solitaire come to mind as two of the hardiest, but there are also the ubiquitous Robin, Waxwings, Black-billed Magpies and 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 downhill. 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 central or local government ownership and open to the public for recreation.

  • Sean Sheehan


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 454

    (As at April 2024)

    State Bird - Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta

  • Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Wyoming , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years.
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated List
    This list of birds of Wyoming includes species documented in the U.S. state of Wyoming by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) as of May 2021 with some additions from Avibase
  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist contains 444 species that have been known to occur in the state of Wyoming. Its purpose is to help the user become more aware of birds...
Useful Reading

  • A Birder's Guide to Wyoming

    | By Oliver Scott Paperback | American Birding Association | 1992 | Spiralbound | 246 pages, B/w photos, illustrations, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781878788023 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Wyoming

    | By Douglas W Faulkner | Roberts and Company Publishers | 2010 | Hardback | 403 pages, Colour photos, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781936221028 Buy this book from
  • 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
  • National Audubon Society Regional Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States

    | Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado | By Peter Alden & John Grassy | Alfred A Knopf| 1998 | Paperback | 448 pages, 1,500 col photos, maps | ISBN: 9780679446811 Buy this book from
  • 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 | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781583552261 Buy this book from
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • Jackson Hole Birding Festival

    Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates... festival planned for 2025
Museums & Universities
  • University of Wyoming

    Environment, Natural Resources & Society, M.S.
  • Wyobird

    WYOBIRD is The Wyoming Bird Initiative for Resilience and Diversity based out of the University of Wyoming. Our mission is to advance knowledge, appreciation, and conservation of birds locally and globally and we achieve this by conducting novel research on birds, training a new generation of scientists, and sharing science through public outreach.
  • Audubon Society in Wyoming

    Offices & Chapters
  • Bighorn Audubon Society

    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

    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....
  • Jackson Hole Bird & Nature Club

    The purpose of the Jackson Hole Bird & Nature Club is to promote interest in the study of birds, wildlife and natural history in Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Area. We strive to increase enjoyment and knowledge of nature through programs and opportunities to observe the wildlife around us.
  • Laramie Audubon Society

    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.
  • Murie Audubon Society

    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

    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

    A National Audubon Society chapter serving west-central and southwestern Wyoming, dedicated to protecting and appreciating Wyoming's birds and their habitats. P.O. Box 882, Lander, WY 82520 - Contact Person: Bob Hargis
  • Rockies Audubon

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

    Facebook Page
    Wyoming Bird's goal is to promote bird watching in Wyoming by highlighting the diverse population of birds through photography, events, and alerts.
  • Wyoming Bird Records Committee

    Collecting, assessing, archiving, and sharing data on rare birds in Wyoming

Abbreviations Key

  • *National Park Service Wyoming

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Annotated List
  • *Wyoming State Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Wyoming has 12 state parks. Annotated list, with links...
  • 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...
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Wyoming Rare Bird Alert

    The report below shows observations of rare birds in Wyoming. Includes both unreviewed and reviewed/approved observations.
  • eBird Wyoming

Guides & Tour Operators
  • Austin Adventures

    Tour Operator
    Known to many as a hotspot for Large Wildlife, Grand Teton Park is a surprisingly underrated and unexplored birding location.
  • 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!
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Mammal and Birding Tour USA: Wyoming and Montana – Exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
  • Ecotour Adventures

    Tour Operator
    Known to many as a hotspot for Large Wildlife, Grand Teton Park is a surprisingly underrated and unexplored birding location...
  • Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris

    Tour Operator
    We are a local, family-owned and operated safari company, offering award-winning, once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experiences in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks.
  • Naturalist Journeys

    Tour Operator
  • Teton Tour Company

    Tour Operator
    The mountains of Wyoming make for a great vacation destination for birders. Over 300 types of birds can be found in the greater Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park areas.
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [01 January] - Terry & Karen McEneaney - Yellowstone in Winter

    ...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...
  • 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...
  • 2019 [09 September] - Pat Lueders - Yellowstone in the Fall

    PDF Report
    Our journey to Yellowstone National Park, Montana, and Idaho had a great beginning with our visit to the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center in Jackson, Wyoming. Located at the National Elk Refuge, we birded around the surrounding wetland and grassland habitat, quickly finding a Wilson’s Warbler, and Blue & Green-winged Teal. American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, and Common Merganser were swimming in Flat Creek...
  • 2022 [06 June] - Ian Merrill

    PDF Report
    Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming
  • 2023 [09 September] - Jacob Roalef

    PDF Report
    ...We enjoyed some nice bird sightings as fall migration was winding to an end for the region and we managed a fine list for our nine days in the mountainous west. Highlight species included Trumpeter Swan, Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, American Dipper, Red-necked Grebe, Steller’s and Canada Jays, Clark’s Nutcracker, Black Rosy-Finch, Cassin’s Finch, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Merlin, Western Tanager, Wilson’s Warbler, and more...
Places to Stay
  • Jakey's Fork Homestead B&B

    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

    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
  • Best Bird Watching Trails in Wyoming

    Explore the most popular bird watching trails in Wyoming with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
  • Bird Watching Academy - Birding oin Wyoming

    When it comes to size, Wyoming is amongst the top ten. The population doesn’t reflect that though, considering it is the lowest. For a bird watcher though, this is as ideal as any location can get. Quite mixed with a great expanse of land, what more could you ask for?
  • Carbon County Birdwatching

    If bird-watching is your bag, Carbon County boasts a whole bevy of feathered residents...
  • List of birds of Yellowstone National Park

    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.
  • Wind River Birdwatching

    The sagebrush and prairie, the hills and the mountains, the rivers, lakes, and mountain streams provide excellent habitat for birds. Mountain blue birds, Wilson’s phalarope, horned larks, sage grouse and sandhill cranes are just a few winged examples. Bring your binoculars and enjoy some bird watching.
  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department

    Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news and happenings by subscribing to our email list.
  • Wyoming Hereford Ranch Crow Creek Birdwatching

    The Wyoming Hereford Ranch is home for most or part of the year for many species of birds. There are several miles of Crow Creek, numerous 100-year-old cottonwood trees, willows, spruce, and pine providing ideal habitat.
  • Wyoming's Best Birding Spots

    More than 400 bird species make their home in Wyoming, including the trumpeter swan, the calliope hummingbird and the song sparrow. The variety of the state’s feathery occupants makes Wyoming an ideal birding destination because of the diversity of the landscapes they inhabit, from the alpine and aspen forests of Grand Teton National Park to the shimmering dunes of the Red Desert.
  • Cheyenne Bird Banter

    About birds and birding in Southeast Wyoming

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