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Birding and Bird Watching in Western Montana + Glacier National Park

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Birding Bird Watching in Glacier Country

Bird Watching in Glacier Country

Note: As of July 1, 2023, Conservation Licenses are required for everyone age 12 and older to access most state lands, including wildlife management areas, fishing access sites and wildlife habitat protection areas. This requirement does not include state parks. Please recreate responsibly. Learn more here.

From woodpeckers to warblers to waxwings, Montana is for the birds—over 250 species of our winged friends call this place home. Glacier Country is a birder’s paradise, and here are a few good places to catch a glimpse of Western Montana birds—some of our littlest inhabitants.

Explore Glacier National Park's old-growth forests to spot the elusive harlequin duck, a small sea duck that thrives in turbulent waters along fast-moving mountain streams and rocky coastlines. These well-adapted birds are drawn to the mature forests of the park.

Keep an eye out for the majestic bald eagle along the state's waterways and lakes. Nesting year-round in Montana, bald eagles can be found near wetlands, open water areas, and major water bodies, primarily feeding on fish and occasionally waterfowl.

During autumn in Western Montana, watch for the golden eagle. These large raptors, with their impressive wingspans and keen eyesight, nest on cliffs and in large trees, often hunting in prairies and open woodlands.

Read more about birding in Glacier Country on our blog.

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Where to Bird Watch in Western Montana

Glacier National Park

In the park alone, you’ll find at least 260 species of birds. It’s one of the best places to see harlequin ducks in the lower 48 states. The "clown ducks" (because of their gray/orange/black/white “costume”) are partial to the waters of McDonald Creek. You're also likely to encounter blue herons, tundra swans, Canada geese and great horned owls. Year-round residents include raptors like bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey and hawks.

Birding in Glacier National Park
Audubon – Glacier National Park

Flathead and Mission Valleys

Along with hundreds of resident bird species, thousands of birds make a pit stop in the Flathead and Mission valleys every year along their north-south migratory route. This birder’s paradise offers multiple spots for life-list birding.

Prime locations include: The CSKT Bison Range, Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges, Thompson Chain of Lakes, Bull River Wildlife Management Area, Lone Pine State Park, Jewel Basin Hiking Area, Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, the Danny On Trail, Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, Lawrence Park, Lower Valley (Road), Church Slough, and the Blasdel Waterfowl Production Area.

The West Valley Public Bird Viewing Area near Kalispell gives birders a stellar vantage point from which to view hundreds of sandhill cranes congregating in prairie pothole wetlands during fall migration.

Flathead Audubon Society Birding Hotspots
Bird Guide to Montana’s Flathead Valley

Missoula Valley

The Missoula Valley has its own birding and nature trail, helping birders, naturalists and eco-tourists access key birding locations. With birding hotspots, ranging from in-town to more secluded destinations, there are plenty of viewing opportunities.

Prime locations include: Kelly Island, Maclay Flat, Blue Mountain, Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, Mount Jumbo, Greenough Park, Riverfront-Kim Williams Trail, The Clark Fork River including Milltown State Park and I-90 East, and Pattee Canyon

Five Valleys Audubon Society Missoula Birding Hotspots

Bitterroot Valley

With a variety of habitats ranging from wetlands and river bottoms to forested terrain, the 8 birding hotspots in the Bitterroot Valley provide a range of birding experiences and opportunities.

Prime locations include: Bitterroot River Fishing Access Sites, Lolo Pass, Bitterroot Canyons, Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Teller Wildlife Refuge, Kiwanis Park, Hamilton, Coyote Coulee Trail, and Lake Como.

Five Valleys Audubon Society Bitterroot Birding Hotspots
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Featured Listings

Bar W Guest Ranch in Western Montana.

Bar W Guest Ranch

2875 U.S. Highway 93 W.
Whitefish, MT 59937

Belton Chalet in Western Montana.

Belton Chalet

12575 U.S. Highway 2 E.
West Glacier, MT 59936

Clark Fork Corridor in Western Montana.

Clark Fork Corridor

2504 Tradewinds Way, Suite C1
Thompson Falls, MT 59873

Paddle Ridge  in Western Montana.

Paddle Ridge

12400 U.S. Highway 2 E.
West Glacier, MT 59936

Sun Tours in Western Montana.

Sun Tours

408 Lindhe Ave.
East Glacier Park, MT 59434

Wild River Adventures in Western Montana.

Wild River Adventures

11900 U.S. Highway 2 E.
West Glacier, MT 59936

Other Listings

Bear Creek Resort

  • 995 Blue Slide Road Thompson Falls, MT 59873
  • 406.827.4857
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Birdland Bay RV Resort

  • 2148 Blue Slide Road Thompson Falls, MT 59873
  • 406.827.4757
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Bison Creek Ranch

  • 20722 U.S. Highway 2 W. East Glacier Park, MT 59434
  • 406.226.4482
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Bitterroot River Inn and Conference Center

  • 139 Bitterroot Plaza Drive Hamilton, MT 59840
  • 406.375.2525
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Butcher Creek Outfitters

  • 7428 Fortine Creek Road Trego, MT 59934
  • 406.291.0748
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Butler Creek Lodge

  • 3255 Bending Tree Lane Missoula, MT 59808
  • 406.542.8307
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CSKT Bison Range

  • 58355 Bison Range Road Moiese, MT 59824
  • 406.644.2211
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Camp Kapapa

  • 27885 Old U.S. Highway 93 Elmo, MT 59915
  • 406.214.0302
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Charlie Russell Chew Choo

  • Hanover Boarding Station, Hanover Road Lewistown, MT 59457
  • 406.535.5436
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Clear Sky Resorts

  • 13951 U.S. Highway 2 E. Essex, MT 59916
  • 406.219.7811
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Double Arrow Lodge

Glacier Birding Adventures

  • 455 Covill Lane Columbia Falls, MT 59912
  • 406.309.1423
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Heron's Roost Cabin Rental

Johnson's of St. Mary

  • 21 Red Eagle Trail St Mary, MT 59417
  • 406.732.4207
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Meridian Farm and Forge

  • 37663 Hawkins Road St. Ignatius, MT 59865
  • 406.544.7131
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Moss Mountain Inn

  • 4655 N. Fork Road Columbia Falls, MT 59912
  • 406.381.8931
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Mountainside Lodging and Retreats

  • 3965 Star Meadow Road Whitefish, MT 59937
  • 406.530.8516
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Northwest Montana Retreat

Outback Montana RV Park & Campground

  • 13772 Outback Lane Bigfork, Montana 59911
  • 406.837.6973
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Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center

  • Trumble Canyon Road Columbia Falls, MT 59912
  • 406.260.8620
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Running Horse Inn

  • 28250 Ninemile Road Huson, Montana 59846
  • 406.626.0040
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Seeley Swan Vacations

  • 3166 State Highway 83 N., Suite 203 Seeley Lake, MT 59868
  • 406.677.6600
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Silverwolf Log Chalets Inc.

  • 160 Gladys Glen Road West Glacier, MT 59936
  • 406.387.4448
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The Cabins at Deer Crossing

  • 396 Hayes Creek Road Hamilton, MT 59840
  • 406.363.2232
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The Lakeside Motel & Resort Inc.

  • 2955 State Highway 200 Trout Creek, MT 59874
  • 406.827.4458
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The Way Less Traveled

  • 16485 North Fork Road Polebridge, MT 59928
  • 406.261.5880
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Timber Wolf Resort

  • 9105 U.S. Highway 2 E. Hungry Horse, MT 59919
  • 406.387.9653
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Travelers Rest Lodge

  • 20987 U.S. Highway 2 E. East Glacier Park, MT 59434
  • 406.226.9143
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News from Glacier National Park Currently, 12 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

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