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Birding Hotspots - Sun Valley, Wood River Valley & North Magic Valley

This very large area can be accessed from Twin Falls or the Sun Valley area. Due to the size of the area and the distance between individual hotspots, visiting more than a couple hotspots in a day may be unrealistic.

Magic Reservoir

A very large reservoir surrounded by hills and sagebrush scrub which serves as an oasis for waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls.

Habitat:

Large reservoir, island gull rookeries, mudflats, surrounded by high desert sagebrush steppe.

Birds:

Western and Clark’s grebe, nesting gulls and terns, Long-billed Curlew, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Trumpeter and Tundra Swans in winter and White Pelicans in summer, Common Loon possible near the dam, Brewer’s sparrow.

Directions:

On ID75, about twenty miles north of Shoshone or about ten miles south of the US 20/ID75 junction turn west onto the paved West Magic Road. After 5.4 miles turn right to access dam and island rookery area, or continue straight to access Magic Village and boat docks 9.7 miles from ID75.

Camas Prairie / Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh WMA

Photo Copyright © 2010
John & Melissa Kopsky

The Camas Prairie lies between the Bennett Hills to the south and the Smoky Mountains to the north. In May hundreds of acres of Camas Lilies bloom in the marshlands.

Habitat:

In April to June Camas Creek floods creating a huge marsh area which dries up later in the summer and becomes a grassy prairie. Surrounded by agriculture and hilly sagebrush steppe.

Birds:

Thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds during spring flood including Ruddy Duck, Northern Pintail and Blue-winged Teal, Black Tern, Long-billed Curlew, Willet, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, American Bittern, and Black-necked Stilt.

Directions:

From ID75 turn west towards Fairfield on US20. 8.7 miles past Fairfield watch for signs and turn left onto Wolf Lane (900 West), then right onto 500 S to marsh.

Silver Creek Nature Conservancy Preserve

Most famous for its trout fly fishing, the deep, meandering spring fed creek is also a beautiful place to birdwatch.

Habitat:

Crystal-clear creek, Peach-leaf and Coyote Willow riparian, grasslands, agricultural fields, sagebrush hills.

Birds:

Sora and Virginia Rail, American Bittern, Long-billed Curlew, Lazuli Bunting, Orange-crowned Warbler, Brewer’s Sparrow, raptors including Bald and Golden Eagle.

Directions:

From ID75 turn east onto US20. After 7.1 miles turn right (south) onto Kilpatrick Bridge Road, after crossing bridge road turns right (west) and continues about one mile to visitor center. Consider continuing over the hill (west of visitor center) in the summer for overlook of Sullivan's Pond and to watch for moose (often mommas with babies), deer and elk (especially on cool fall evenings in fields on Stalker Road).

Hayspur State Fish Hatchery

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game managed Hayspur hatchery is a 105 acre property open to the public.

Habitat:

Spring fed creeks and lagoons and associated riparian/creekside habitat. Also grassy park areas with mature trees. Generally surrounded by sagebrush steppe.

Birds:

Virginia and Sora Rail, Yellow Warbler, Brewer’s sparrow, Great-horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, migrant trap during migration.

Directions:

From ID75 turn east on U.S. 20 for about 7 miles and turn left, north, into the entrance of Hayspur Hatchery. Travel up the road three-fourths of a mile to the hatchery.

North Fork Wood River

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area visitor center is located at the mouth of this forested canyon. Gravel road travels up the canyon with several trailheads for hiking.

Habitat:

Creekside riparian of Black Cottonwood and willows. The hillsides are covered with douglas fir and lodgepole pine.

Birds:

Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush, Veery, Western Tanager, Calliope Hummingbird, American Dipper, Steller’s Jay.

Directions:

Travel approximately eight miles north of Ketchum on Highway 75. Watch for signs on the right.

Trail Creek / Corral Creek

Diverse habitats easily accessible from Sun Valley or Ketchum. Several trailheads for hiking. Boundary Creek Campground on Trail Creek has lots of woodpeckers including nesting Lewis’ Woodpecker. Higher up Trail Creek watch for Clark’s Nutcracker and Pileated Woodpecker.

Habitat:

An excellent mingling of Cottonwood Willow riparian areas, high desert sagebrush steppe and Douglas Fir, Aspen, and even Limber pine at the higher elevations.

Birds:

American Dipper, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Red-naped Sapsucker, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer’s sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow.

Directions:

From ID75 in Ketchum, take the signed turn at stoplight to Sun Valley. This turns into Trail Creek Road. It is 13 miles to Trail Creek Summit. Trail Creek road becomes quite steep and narrow towards the summit although it is passable with sedans. At approximately five miles from ID75 you can turn right onto the Corral Creek Road.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Park

Photo Copyright © 2010
John & Melissa Kopsky

An interesting sea of lava interspersed with ancient cinder cones. Visitor center and seasonal paved roads. Nice hiking and walking trails.

Habitat:

Barren lava flows with Limber pine, Juniper, sagebrush, currant, syringa scattered throughout. Robust wildflower blooms in June.

Birds:

Mountain bluebird, Clark’s nutcracker, Brewer’s and Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Greater Sage-grouse, Rock Wren.

Directions:

From ID75 turn east on Highway 20 towards Picabo and Carey. At Carey turn left (north) on Highway 93 (20,26). After 24 miles watch for signs for the Visitor Center. There are also many remote access points between Arco and Minidoka or American Falls.

Craters of the Moon National Park

Photo Copyright © 2010
John & Melissa Kopsky

Carey Lake Wildlife Management Area

A shallow marshy lake on the edge of a vast desert provides an oasis for birds. A nice stop on the way to Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Habitat:

A marshy lake surrounded by agriculture, sagebrush, and lava outcroppings.

Birds:

Sandhill crane, American bittern, Virginia rail, Tundra swan, Snow goose, many ducks, American avocet, Black-necked stilt.

Directions:

From ID75 turn east on Highway 20 towards Picabo and Carey. At Carey turn north on Highway 93 (20,26) for about one mile. You can see the lake to the east. Access from several turnoffs.

Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge / Lake Walcott State Park

A large reservoir on the Snake River behind Minidoka dam. Beautiful CCC area park with ancient cottonwoods. One of the best birding areas in Idaho especially during fall migration.

Habitat:

Large reservoir with marshy areas and island rookeries. Swift flowing rocky rapids below dam. Sagebrush, Peachleaf willow, and Russian olive surrounding the reservoir. Rather extensive park with enormous cottonwoods and many other trees.

Birds:

Nesting American White Pelicans, terns, swans, gulls, hawks and many songbirds.

Directions:

From I-84, take exit 211 north towards Rupert on Idaho 24/25. Carefully follow signs for Idaho 24 through Rupert. Proceed on Idaho 24 through Acequia. About six miles from Rupert turn right onto Minidoka Dam Road (400 N). Continue about five miles to park headquarters.

 
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