BIRDS OF THE FLATHEAD
A Beginners guide to what birds you can expect to see where –
Many bird species are year-long residents of the Flathead
Valley. Others spend only part of the year here, depending on
their migrational patterns.
Migrating flocks stop in the Flathead and summer
Flathead Valley lies in a migration corridor. Large
flocks of waterfowl pass through in March, April and
The first songbirds arrive in late February (!) and
March – blackbirds, robins, Varied thrushes.
Kestrels, and Tree and Violet-green Swallows show up in
middle to late March.
Osprey arrive early April, and begin building nests in
Most insect eaters arrive in May or early June –
warblers, vireos, nighthawk, and flycatchers.
Newly hatched young appear. Late in summer, southerly migration
Look for waterfowl broods along river- and lakeshores.
Flocks of swallows and blackbirds begin staging in late June for
Southbound shorebirds start showing up in July.
Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds begin to move south in late
July and August.
Summer birds are leaving, winter birds arriving.
Most songbirds, Great Blue Heron and Osprey fly south by
Waterfowl return from the north and form flocks in pothole lakes
Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Shrikes return from their
northern breeding areas November and December.
Many bird species over-winter in the Flathead. More than 80
species are regularly found on the Bigfork Christmas Bird Count,
60 or more on the Kalispell Christmas Count.
Feeders attract a variety of birds, including chickadees,
nuthatches, Evening Grosbeaks, woodpeckers and jays.
Winter finches, waterfowl, Bald Eagles and Rough-legged Hawks
are usually present in good numbers.
Bohemian Waxwings fly about in large flocks, looking for winter
Merlins fly about too, looking for waxwings.