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Birding Hotspots - South Hills - The East Side


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South Hills IBA/Crossbill Hotspots map

The east and southeast portions of the South Hills are somewhat more remote, but are typically accessed by good gravel roads. Common southwestern birds not often seen in Idaho, such as Blue Grosbeak, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Virginia's Warbler, are often seen here.

South Hills - Esat Side

Photo Copyright © 2010
Julie Randall

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Photo Copyright © 2010
Julie Randall

The canyon begins as an Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Management Area and later becomes forest service land. Good hiking/biking access from trailhead.

Habitat:

Farmland with feed plantings, cottonwood riparian areas, and juniper hillsides.

Birds:

Excellent area for riparian and juniper species, birds of prey, upland game birds and more.

Directions:

From Burley head south on ID 27 for 20 miles, then right (west) on 1600 S, follow signs 7 miles to wildlife management area. Or from the Rock Creek road follow the foothills road east and then south, following signs for the WMA.

Trapper Creek & Fall Creek

Trapper Creek & Fall Creek

Photo Copyright © 2010
Julie Randall

Main road goes over and out to Porcupine Springs via Fall Creek/Badger Gulch for a nice day loop. Good gravel/dirt road in good weather. Also has side routes to areas like the Trapper Creek Research Natural Area, South Cottonwood Canyon (good for hiking), and optional high clearance vehicle loop routes out to Big Piney, Coal Banks, etc.

Habitat:

Extensive riparian corridor with dry grassy hillsides interspersed with Juniper, transitioning to subalpine higher up the canyon.

Birds:

Winter Wren, Willow Flycatcher, Virginia Rail, other wetland birds, White-throated Swift, etc. plus the various juniper birds, riparian birds, cliff-nesters, ruffed grouse, birds of prey.

Directions:

Follow Trapper Creek Road and/or signs for Goose Creek Reservoir (southwest from the small town of Oakley).

Oakley Reservoir

Good public access via Trapper Creek road from Oakley, suitable for all vehicles in good weather.

Habitat:

Large open water with marshy backwater areas, sagebrush and Juniper hillsides.

Birds:

Waterfowl species depending on season, migratory birds including sandpipers, lots of gulls, Common Loon, various grebes, herons, egrets, pelicans, birds of prey, cliff-nesters, etc.

Directions:

See directions for Trapper Creek (above). Passerine migrant trap located at reservoir headwater/backwater area and accessed off Goose creek road and Wilson Gulch (map recommended).

Goose Creek Drainage

Goose Creek Drainage

Photo Copyright © 2010
Julie Randall

This road first passes through Juniper uplands, then follows the marshy Goose Creek drainage.

Habitat:

Farm fields, river edges, and juniper woodlands/cliffs.

Birds:

This is a migratory corridor for birds of prey including bald eagle, golden eagle prairie falcon, and occasional Peregrine Falcon. The various farm fields, river edges, and juniper woodlands/cliffs provide viewing for many types of riparian birds, cliff nesters, juniper birds including White-faced Ibis, Phalaropes and other waterfowl including Mergansers in spring/fall on Goose Creek, also Greater and Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Juniper Titmouse, Pinyon Jay, Sandhill Cranes, Turkey Vulture, etc. Lesser Goldfinch breed in local drainages, other rarities include occasional Bobolink, Scotts Oriole, Blue Grosbeak etc.

Directions:

Take the Goose Creek Road south out of the small town of Oakley. Can continue to the Utah border or further. Be sure to respect private property.

City of Rocks National Reserve / Castle Rocks State Park

City of Rocks National Reserve / Castle Rocks State Park

Photo Copyright © 2010
John and Melissa Kopsky

Adjacent parks in unique setting attracts many southwest birds to their northernmost range.

Habitat:

Granite monoliths scattered throughout a valley that transitions from agricultural ranchland to sagebrush steppe to pinyon/juniper to cottonwood riparian and finally to aspen/conifer forest. A beautiful and diverse habitat in a relatively small area.

Birds:

Virginia’s Warbler, Scott’s Oriole, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Blue Grosbeak.

Directions:

From I-84 use exit #216 and take ID77 south through Declo and Albion. At Conner Creek turn right (southwest) on the Elba-Almo Road. The visitor center is at the south end of Almo.

 
South Hills Crossbill

South Hills Crossbill

How often do you get to discover a new bird species in the continental United States - let alone in your own backyard? Learn all about the South Hills Crossbill and the challenges faced to have it listed as a new species.

Read on for more info