Updated: Jun 19, 2020
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Each week I pick a random birding hotspot from around the state of Wyoming, and I provide insights on birding the location! I include specific birds in the "Notable Birds" section of the post, IF they have a high-ish relative occurrence during the best months to bird the location. And sometimes I lob in a bird simply because it is really cool.
Hotspot Name: Dugout Gulch Botanical Trail
Location: Sundance, WY
Managing Organization: USFS
Facilities: Trails, (Restrooms at nearby public access points)
Ebird Hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L4654380
When to Bird: Spring, Summer, Fall
Number of Potential Species: 70+
Notable Birds: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Western Wood-Pewee, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Dusky Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Purple Martin, Canyon Wren, Eastern Bluebird, LeConte’s Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Eastern Towhee, Ovenbird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Baltimore Oriole
Other Wildlife: Black Bear
Description: The Dugout Gulch Botanical Trail is a 2.3 mile trail with an additional 4.4 mile loop. It is part of the Black Hills National Forest, that extends across the Wyoming border. This trail provides the some of the best opportunities to see eastern avifauna in our state. Why is this possible? Location and habitat! You are about as close to the WY/SD border as possible, AND the habitat in this area is extremely unique. The vegetation along the gulches found in this area of the Black Hills are relic boreal plants that have survived far from the major boreal forests of Canada. These “survivors” are referred to as boreal disjuncts. These plants remained after the boreal forests retreated at the end of the Ice Age.
I typed all of those sentences, but they are not what you came here for. You want to know about the birds. Watch for Purple Martin flying overhead, Eastern Phoebe nesting near the outcrops, Ovenbird singing their hearts out, and Eastern Towhee drinking their teeeeeeea. I personally recommend walking the entire trail, early in the morning. Additionally, bird all the other hotspots along Sand Creek. But make this spot your first priority.