Bird Watching

Clark's Nutcracker- Wikipedia Commons

Clark's Nutcracker- Wikipedia Commons

Because of the great elevation range, 6,000 to over 13,000 feet, the Snake Range is an ideal place to observe birds. There are a great variety of habitats, from sage brush to arctic-alpine. Some birds such as the pinyon jay are associated with a specific habitat- in this case, the pinyon-juniper woodland found at intermediate elevations. The pinyon jay is completely dependent on pinyon pine nuts. Other birds, such as the common raven, are found in many different habitats because they are versatile eaters.

The park encourages birders to report uncommon or previously unknown birds. Ask for a copy of the current park bird checklist at either visitor center.

Birds to Watch in the Park

The easiest way to travel through much of the range of habitats the Snake Range has to offer is to drive from Baker up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. You can also drive the Baker Creek Road. Hikers can travel through many of the same habitats on the park trail system and in the Mount Moriah Wilderness, and can also climb higher to the timberline forests and alpine tundra.

Baker Area

Here, in sagebrush and grasslands, watch for bald eagles and hawks on telephone poles and wires. Red-tailed hawks like to sit on fence posts. During summer dusk or dawn, stop and listen for the whinnying of common snipe, the call of a common poor-will, the "whooo" of a Great Horned Owl, or the "bull-bat" roar of a Common Nighthawk. At night, watch for the "copper-penny-colored" eye of the poor-will reflecting in your headlights.

  • Long-billed curlew
  • Northern harrier
  • Golden eagle
  • Killdeer
  • Northern harrier
  • Golden eagle
  • Common raven
  • American kestrel
  • Song sparrow
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Scrub jay
  • California quail
  • Eurasian chukar
  • Sage grouse
  • Mourning dove
  • Horned lark
  • Scrub jay
  • Black-billed magpie
  • Western kingbird
  • Barn swallow
  • Loggerhead shrike
  • Black-throated sparrow
  • Cassin's finch
  • European starling
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Western meadowlark

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland

On the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive above Upper Lehman Creek campground, as well as around the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, look for

  • Mountain chickadee
  • Broad-tailed hummingbird
  • Black-chinned hummingbird
  • Rufous hummingbird
  • Pinyon jay
  • Mountain bluebird
  • Solitary vireo
  • Say's phoebe
  • White-crowned sparrow

Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Along Lehman Creek, and also and also along Baker Creek near Baker Creek Campground, you may see

  • American dipper
  • Mountain chickadee
  • Yellow-rumped warbler
  • Cassin's finch
  • Broad-tailed hummingbird
  • Black-chinned hummingbird
  • Mountain bluebird
  • Western tanager
  • Black-headed grosbeak

Upper Lehman Creek Campground

In the ponderosa pine forest along Lehman Creek, watch for

  • Violet-green swallow
  • Red-naped sapsucker
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Hairy woodpecker
  • Mountain chickadee
  • Bushtit
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • House wren
  • Warbling vireo
  • Yellow-rumped warbler
  • Black-headed grosbeak
  • Chipping sparrow
  • Green-tailed towhee
  • Rufous-sided towhee
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Brown-headed cowbird

Wheeler Peak Campground

In the aspen and limber pine forest and along the Alpine Lakes Trail, you may spot

  • Clark's nutcracker
  • Stellar's jay
  • Townsend's solitaire
  • Mountain chickadee
  • Bushtit
  • Yellow-rumped warbler
  • Pine siskin
  • Brown creeper
  • Pygmy nuthatch
  • Cooper's hawk
  • Red crossbills

Alpine Lakes Trail (Hike 7)

A hike around this easy loop past the two alpine lakes may reveal some of the waterbirds that pass through the area:

  • Great blue heron
  • Canada geese
  • Sandhill crane
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged teal
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler
  • Cinnamon Teal

Bristlecone-Glacier Trail (Hike 8)

At timberline, in the ancient groves of bristlecone pines, look for

  • Black form of rosy finch
  • Rock wren
  • Common raven
  • Clark's nutcracker