Grand Teton National Park is renowned for its wildlife. Who doesn’t love bears and moose? But don’t forget about the birds! Quite often they are easier to check out than the big game. Here are five local fowl to spot.
5. Trumpeter Swan
These graceful waterfowl, the largest native to North America, were very near extinction a hundred years ago. They are a poster bird (if you will) for conservation efforts. They nest year-round in the National Elk Refuge, just north of Jackson, and are easily visible from the roadside.
4. Western Tanager
Tanagers are beautiful, multicolored migrants to Grand Teton National Park. The male is easily spotted due to his ruby face and bright yellow chest. Look for them flitting about in the conifer trees.
3. Mountain Bluebird
Henry David Thoreau stated his thoughts on this bird clearly: A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town.
Mountain Bluebirds breed in Grand Teton National Park during the summer and winter 800 miles southwest in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico. Quite a traveler for only weighing one ounce!
A breeding pair can be found near the pink house on Mormon Row.
Thoreau also memorably stated (because, really, how often do you find you can quote Thoreau twice in one passage?):
The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
2. Common Merganser
These fish-eating ducks love moving water. You will often find them in swift rivers, although they also enjoy lakes with foliage. They call the Tetons home year-round and are one of the most commonly sighted bird species on the water.
What bird list for the Tetons would be complete without a raptor?
If you see a large bird in the sky with “M” shaped wings, you have spotted an osprey.
Osprey breed in the northern Rockies before heading south to winter along the coast of Mexico. Try to spot them diving for fish over a body of water. They are commonly sighted in the Oxbow Bend area.
For further information on birding in Grand Teton National Park, visit the National Park Service’s webpage.
Enjoy looking up and seeing more!