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Birding in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

This hotspot highlight is focused on Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Nestled in the northern reach of the park, this valley attracts visitors for birds and mammals alike.

American Dipper in Yellowstone National Park
American Dipper in Yellowstone National Park

Please note, while some locations have over 200 species documented, I do not include all 200 species in the notable species. I only have so much time and room in these posts! I try to include birds in the notable section IF they have a high relative occurrence during the prime months to bird the location. And sometimes, I lob in a species simply because it is an interesting observation.

Hotspot Name: Lamar Valley

Location: Cody, WY

Managing Organization: National Park Service

Facilities: Public Restrooms, Trails, Picnic Area

When to Bird: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Number of Potential Species: 180+

Notable birds of Lamar Valley in Yellowstone NP

Trumpeter Swans, Cinnamon Teal, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Golden Eagle, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Red-naped Sapsucker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Canada Jay, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, American Dipper, Mountain Bluebird, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Brewer’s Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting

How to bird Lamar Valley in Yellowstone NP

Description: Lamar Valley is an extensive birding location. Consider this location covering the area between Trout Lake Trail and Slough Creek. Pinpointing exactly where to bird would require MANY small hotspots for very specific species. You will need to use your skills and field guide to determine where in the valley to find your target species. But here’s a little help: waterbirds will be near water (ponds and rivers), marsh birds will be near marshes and wetlands, grassland species will be in the meadows, sagebrush species will be in the sagebrush, and forest species will be off the road into the woods.

More help is needed?

Okay, during the summer, Harlequin Duck will occasionally push down into the Lamar River after LeHardy Rapids levels are too high. Look for other nesting waterfowl in the wetland areas. Golden Eagle will be on the prowl for carcasses; check the cliffs and open areas. Willow Flycatcher can be found near the river’s edge, in the willow/alder habitat. Watch the tops of conifers for Olive-sided and Hammond’s Flycatcher. Savannah Sparrow are constantly singing in the wet meadows. Brewer’s Sparrow sit atop the sagebrush and babble endlessly. Watch the herds of American bison for a more natural behavior from Brown-headed Cowbirds.

In wintertime, American Dipper can be regularly found along the banks of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. Barrow's Goldeneye and Lesser Scaup can also be found regularly in the open areas of the moving water. Wolf kills attract Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagle. On the upper side (north) of the road, rosy-finches and redpolls can be found feeding on the exposed areas. The flocks can often be found in the same areas, often where you find bighorn sheep. The ungulates help move the snow and stir up buried seeds and insects. In areas with hot springs, watch the marshes for wintering rails, like the Virginia Rail.

See? I helped out a lot!

Oh, and my final bit of advice is: DO NOT PET THE BISON! (I should not need to say that.)


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