Birding and Bird Watching in Western Montana + Glacier National Park

Birding Montana

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.

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

Featured Listings

ABC acres
Hamilton, MT
406.210.7688
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Belton Chalet
West Glacier, MT
406.888.5000
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Clark Fork Corridor
Thompson Falls, MT
406-827-6935
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Glacier Bear Retreat
West Glacier, MT
406.848.1771 | 888.848.1771
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Haymoon Resort
Whitefish, MT
406.730.8786
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Hidden Moose Lodge
Whitefish, MT
406.862.6516 | 888.733.6667
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Paddle Ridge
West Glacier, MT
406-888-5454
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Rye Creek Lodge
Darby, MT
406.821.3366 | 888.821.3366
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Sun Tours
East Glacier Park, MT
406.732.9220 | 800.786.9220
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Swan Mountain Outfitters
West Glacier, MT
406.387.4405 | 877.888.5557
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Triple Creek Ranch
Darby, MT
406-821-4600 | 800-654-2943
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Other Listings

Bear Creek Resort
995 Blue Slide Road
Thompson Falls, MT 59873
406-827-4857
Birdland Bay RV Resort
2148 Blue Slide Road
Thompson Falls, MT 59873
406.827.4757
Bison Creek Ranch
20722 U.S. Highway 2 W.
East Glacier Park, MT 59434
406.226.4482
Bitterroot River Inn and Conference Center
139 Bitterroot Plaza Drive
Hamilton, MT 59840
406.375.2525 | 877.274.8274
Butcher Creek Outfitters
7428 Fortine Creek Road
Trego, MT 59934
4062910748
Butler Creek Lodge
3255 Bending Tree Lane
Missoula, MT 59808
406.542.8307
CSKT Bison Range
58355 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT 59824
406.644.2211
Camp Kapapa
27885 Old U.S. Highway 93
Elmo, MT 59915
406.214.0302
Charlie Russell Chew Choo
Hanover Boarding Station, Hanover Road
Lewistown, MT 59457
406.535.5436
Clear Sky Resorts
13951 U.S. Highway 2 E.
Essex, MT 59916
406.219.7811
Double Arrow Lodge
301 Lodge Way
Seeley Lake, MT 59868
406-677-2777
Glacier Birding Adventures
455 Covill Lane
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
406.309.1423
Heron's Roost Cabin Rental
293 FDR 228
Libby, MT 59923
406-293-3530
Johnson's of St. Mary
21 Red Eagle Trail
St Mary, MT 59417
406.732.4207
Meridian Farm and Forge
37663 Hawkins Road
St. Ignatius, MT 59865
406-544-7131
Moss Mountain Inn
4655 N. Fork Road
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
406-381-8931
Mountainside Lodging and Retreats
3965 Star Meadow Road
Whitefish, MT 59937
4065308516
Northwest Montana Retreat
2327 Rabbit Creek Road
Troy, MT 59935
Outback Montana RV Park & Campground
13772 Outback Lane
Bigfork, Montana 59911
406-837-6973
Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center
Trumble Canyon Road
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
406.260.8620
Running Horse Inn
28250 Ninemile Road
Huson, Montana 59846
406-626-0040
Seeley Swan Vacations
3166 State Highway 83 N., Suite 203
Seeley Lake, MT 59868
406.677.6600
Silverwolf Log Chalets Inc.
160 Gladys Glen Road
West Glacier, MT 59936
406.387.4448
The Cabins at Deer Crossing
396 Hayes Creek Road
Hamilton, MT 59840
406-363-2232
The Lakeside Motel & Resort Inc.
2955 State Highway 200
Trout Creek, MT 59874
406.827.4458 | 888.827.4458
The Way Less Traveled
16485 North Fork Road
Polebridge, MT 59928
406.261-5880
Timber Wolf Resort
9105 U.S. Highway 2 E.
Hungry Horse, MT 59919
406.387.9653
Travelers Rest Lodge
20987 U.S. Highway 2 E.
East Glacier Park, MT 59434
406.226.9143
News from Glacier National Park Currently, 17 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.