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The SNRA is home to many bird species.

In fact, over 140 birds have actually been observed in the central Idaho Rocky mountains. Here is a closer look at a few of the more common types, where they can be observed, as well as some that are on the sensitive species list within the Sawtooth NRA.

Mountain bluebirds (our state bird), Sandhill cranes, bald eagles (our national bird), osprey, three-toed woodpeckers, Swainson’s hawks, western tanagers, willow flycatchers, Wilson’s warblers, sparrows, kingfishers, finches, magpies, and the greater sage-grouse are among the most common. 

Bald eagles can be found in the forested areas and along rivers of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

An occasional golden eagle can be seen over the sagebrush steppe. Black-billed magpies are super common throughout the Idaho forests, and Sandhill cranes are often spotted during the breeding season in the Sawtooth Valley. 

The greater sage-grouse is often observed in sagebrush habitats, especially during their spring courtship. Known as a lek, this display consists of a gathering of male grouse where they engage in competitive feathered displays and courtship rituals for their prospective mates. 

While some of these species migrate through the Sawtooths, others stay to nest. Fewer yet stay year-round, finding food sources such as macro-invertebrates (insects in their beginning stages, snails, worms, crayfish, and others) throughout the winter.

The Sawtooth SNRA has a few sensitive bird species – meaning they are a concern to the Forest Service due to their decline in their population or habitat quality.

They are the greater sage-grouse, common loon, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, northern goshawk, white-headed woodpecker, northern three-toed woodpecker, boreal owl, flammulated owl, and the great gray owl. For a complete list of protected birds and other species of the SNRA visit: Idaho classification of wildlife (IDAPA)  and Forest Service region 4 – plants & animals

The popular All Trails app lists the following trails as being especially good for spotting birds within the SNRA:

Fourth of July Lake trail

Pettit Lake to Twin Lakes via Trail 095

Baker Lake Trail

Alpine Lake Tail

Redfish Lake Trail

To learn more about the birds found in Idaho forests visit: The National Audubon Society where you can download their helpful bird identification map.