Bird watchers bound for Idaho can expect to find plenty of prime spots to spot abundant waterfowl and waterbirds, raptors, riparian songbirds and the very occasional Blue Jay or Snowy Plover. Even close to population centers like Coeur d’Alene or Boise there is relatively easy access to fine bird watching locations, from lake shore to desert respectively, both of which shelter select nesting raptors.
Lend fresh perspective to your search for fowl on a float down a stretch of the Salmon River with an eye for Cliff Swallows and herons wading in the shallows, or enjoy a scenic drive along the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway with Golden Eagles and Great Sage-Grouse for company. Idaho might be best known for its fishing and river rafting but with a good pair of binoculars it should be come readily apparent there is also plenty of good birding on offer.
City of Coeur d’Alene:
Coeur d’Alene’s location on the shores of the lake of the same name equates to good bird watching within a stone’s throw of downtown. Popular sites around the city include Cougar Bay, where Winter Wrens, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Cassin’s Vireo can be spotted amongst other assorted waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds; and Fernan Lake, where Bald Eagles nest and Great Blue Herons breed.
Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway:
Wind around sagebrush hills on a drive along the 39-mile Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway in search of flycatchers, finches, thrushes, kinglets, Golden Eagles, Northern Harriers and the Great Sage-Grouse. Keep an eye out for the lilac-throated Calliope Hummingbird, hawks and Spotted Towhees at rest in the occasional stand of aspen on this loop route.
Salmon River Float-Salmon Section:
In a state where river rafting is big, consider killing two birds with one stone (so to speak) and do a bit of bird watching while floating a scenic stretch of the Salmon River . Spot Cliff Swallows, grizzled Great Blue Herons, Bullock’s Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, Mountain Bluebirds, even the occasional Peregrine Falcon, as you make your way downriver north or south of the city of Salmon.
Sandpoint City Beach:
Conveniently close to downtown Sandpoint, the city’s beach, fish hatchery and Waterlife Discovery Center take in 10 acres of shore at the edge of Lake Pend Oreille. Though waterbirds and waterfowl can be sighted here year round, look in spring and summer also for shorebirds and raptors.
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area:
An easy drive out of Boise near Kuna, this 485,000 acre conservation area takes in a desert environment home to numerous nesting raptors, most often spotted from mid-March through June. Watch for the likes of American Kestrels, Prairie Falcons, Osprey, Golden Eagles, several different types of owl and circling Red-tailed Hawks.