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Flathead Audubon’s “Birding Hotspots in the Flathead Basin” provides short descriptions of 13 places in the Flathead Valley and nearby areas that offer great opportunities to see a variety of bird species, accompanied by a map that shows where these “hot” spots are, and how to get to them.
The brochure also contains a full list of all bird species seen in the Flathead, with information on relative abundance by season breeding status of each species.
CLICK HERE FOR .PDF VERSION

Those who will be visiting the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area (one of the brochure’s “hotspots”) may wish to look at the list of all the birds that have been sighted there. Birders are encouraged to report any species they see at OSNA that are not on this list.
CLICK HERE FOR OSNA BIRD LIST .PDF

There are a variety of other good birding places in the Flathead, besides those identified our “Hotspots” brochure, encompassing a variety of different habitat types. Many birders enjoy checking out one of the following, for example:
     
1. National Bison Range
The 18,500-acre National Bison Range, established in 1908, is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation and consists of native Palouse Prairie, forests, wetlands and streams. More than 200 species of birds share the area with 350 to 450 bison. The entrance to the National Bison Range is located off Highway 200 at Moiese and is most easily accessed from Highway 93 about 75 miles south of Kalispell.
  For information contact National Bison Range
132 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT 59824
Phone: 406-644-2211
Email: bisonrange@fws.gov

 
 

2. Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges
This exceptional wetland complex contains over 800 glacial potholes and a 1,770-acre reservoir. It was established in 1921 and is located within the Flathead Indian Reservation. An access road and paved trail provide for waterfowl and shorebird viewing where about 200 bird species have been recorded. Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants, ducks, grebes, Short-eared Owls and a wide variety of song birds can be observed along with superb viewing of raptors during the winter. Ninepipe NWR is located just south of Ronan along Highway 93; Pablo NWR is north of Ronan to the west of Highway 93. Watch for refuge, Waterfowl Production Area, and Wildlife Management Area signs. The refuges are crossed by several county roads.
  For information contact Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges
132 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT 59824
Phone: 406-644-2211
Email: bisonrange@fws.gov

 
 

3. Thompson Chain of Lakes
This 3,000-acre area, reaching from McGregor Lake to Loon Lake, offers opportunities for camping and fishing as well as birding. Waterfowl is abundant and loons have historically nested on these lakes. Adjacent uplands provide opportunities for viewing forest birds. The Thompson Chain of Lakes is located along Highway 2 approximately 40 miles west of Kalispell.
  For information contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
490 N. Meridian
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-752-5501
 
 

4. Bull River Wildlife Management Area
The 1800-acre Bull River WMA is located between the East and West Cabinet Mountains in the headwaters of Bull River and Lake Creek drainages. It encompasses wetland, lake and streamside habitats as well as an upland boreal forest to provide outstanding birding opportunities. The Bull River WMA is located about 20 miles south of Troy and immediately South of Bull Lake along both sides of Highway 56.
  For information contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
490 N. Meridian
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-752-5501
 

5. Lone Pine State Park
Lone Pine State Park was established in 1947 and is the second oldest state park in Montana.  The park covers 270 acres of forest habitat and has over seven miles of hiking trails. Lone Pine offers an excellent birding opportunity and is home to several different species of songbirds and raptors.  The park is located five miles southwest of Kalispell, above Foy’s Lake.  From downtown Kalispell, go west on U.S. Highway 2 to Meridian Road.  Take a left on Meridian and follow this road up the hill for 3 miles.  Watch for a brown state park sign and take a left on Lone Pine Road.  Follow this road up the hill and through the park entrance gate. There is a $5 entrance fee for out-of-state vehicles.
 
  For information contact Lone Pine State Park
300 Lone Pine Road
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-755-2706
 

6.  Jewel Basin Hiking Area
Jewel Basin is a specially designated backcountry area at the north end of the Swan Mountain Range east of Kalispell and southeast of Columbia Falls. It includes 15,349 acres for hiking and camping, 27 alpine lakes and 50 miles of hiking trails. The mountains are forested with spruce, fir and some whitebark pine. Mount Aeneas is the highest peak at 7,528 feet. Mount Aeneas is the site of the American Bird Conservancy’s Hawk Watch. Seventeen species of migrating raptors, particularly accipiters, have been counted here between late August and mid-October. Jewel Basin also offers opportunities to observe many other bird species, such as, Cassin’s Finch and Olive-sided Flycatcher, in addition to fishing, wildlife and wildflower viewing opportunities. Jewel Basin may be accessed from the west from near Bigfork and Echo Lake and also from the east from Hungry Horse Dam. Group size is limited.
 
 

For information contact: 
Hungry Horse Ranger District Office
PO Box 190340
Hungry Horse, MT  59919
406-387-3800

Swan Lake Ranger District Office
200 Ranger Station Road
Bigfork, MT  59911
406-837-7500

Flathead National Forest
Forest Supervisor’s Office
1935 3rd Avenue East
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-5200
www.fs.fed.us/r1/flathead/
 

 
 
 
 
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