Birding

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR) is a wonderful spot for birding, especially during the spring and fall waterfowl migration seasons. KNWR’s permanent and seasonal wetlands are an important stopover for tundra swans and other migrating waterfowl. These wetlands, recreated from reclaimed farm fields, support peak waterfowl populations of 24,000-40,000 birds, especially mallards in the fall and spring.

Photo by Ray Walsh

The large, permanent and semi-permanent ponds that offer relatively deep open water and dense stands of emergent plants which provide important breeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl and water birds including hooded mergansers, redheads, grebes, rails, and black terns.

KNWR also protects important riparian habitat consisting of native deciduous trees and shrubs along water courses and near the wetlands. Containing species such as cottonwoods, willows, aspen and hawthorne, the riparian zones support more bird species than any other habitat type. It is here, near the Auto Tour Road, that a pair of eagles raise their young each year.

Photo by Ray Walsh

On the west side of valley, the refuge extends a short distance up the base of the Selkirk Range, protecting a narrow strip of 532 acres of forested habitat. This small patch protects a diverse combination of dry and moist mixed coniferous forest, supporting a variety of warblers, thrushes, nuthatches, flycatchers and woodpeckers. It is here that the majestic pileated woodpecker can often be heard or seen.

Photo by Ray Walsh

Over 200 species of birds have been observed at KNWR. This Kootenai Wildlife brochure contains the full list along with an idea of the seasons when they are most likely to be seen.