Birding by Ear in Glacier Park

Glacier National Park's Spectacular Bird Sanctuary

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

1,000 Feet

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Difficulty

Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$175

Hike Overview

Glacier National Park comprises more than 1 million acres of diverse and stunning bird habitat. Encounter both common and uncommon bird species that thrive in and around the park on an adventure led by expert birder Denny Olson, who possesses an intimate knowledge of Glacier’s unending hideaways. Enjoy two days in nature as you hike through the wilderness and into the habitats of both eastern and western watershed bird species, while sharing the knowledge with your expert leader about the intricate avian ecology of these pristine natural areas.

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Birding by Ear in Glacier Park

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor: Denny Olson

Glacier National Park comprises more than 1 million acres of diverse and stunning bird habitat. Encounter both common and uncommon bird species that thrive in and around the park. The Birding by Ear adventure is led by expert birder Denny Olson, who possesses an intimate knowledge of Glacier Park’s unending hideaways. Enjoy two days in nature as you hike through the Glacier Park wilderness and into the habitats of both eastern and western watershed bird species. This is a unique opportunity to learn insights about the intricate avian ecology of these pristine natural areas.

Meeting place: Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)

Day 1: In the evening, Denny will introduce the basics of birding, common birds of Glacier National Park and the habitats in which you will be birding. Afterwards, join us for a campfire and s’mores before retiring for an early wake-up the next day.

Day 2:The group will conduct an exploration of bird songs before dawn by visiting a burned forest. After regrouping at Glacier Institute Field Camp for a snack, we will return to the field at 8:30 a.m. Participants will head for Johns Lake, Avalanche Cedars (old growth birds) and the McDonald Creek cascades to search for (with our ears) wet meadow and pond birds. Some of the species we will be listening to include: Thrushes, Water Ouzels, Harlequin Ducks, Vireos, and Pacific Wrens. We will return to Glacier Institute Field Camp for lunch and wrap up with a final discussion and review of species that we heard. The course will finish around 3 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.

Food: The following meals are included: breakfast and lunch on Day 2.

Accommodations: 1 night of lodging is included in the Glacier Institute course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people. Cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillowcase, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entrance passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280

Equipment: You will receive a Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly, bring comfortable hiking shoes, snacks, water bottle (at least 1-2 liters), backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied, especially in the spring and fall, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, with extra layers. Binoculars and bird field guides are very useful.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. We will be hiking to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to listen for and identify bird songs and the birds that create them. The hiking in Glacier National Park may be up to 3 miles per outing, on or off-trail, in brushy and marshy areas, and may cover 1,000 feet of elevation change.

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What to Expect On Your Birding by Ear | 2-Day Guided Hike

We will be hiking to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to listen for and identify bird songs. The hiking may be on or off trail in brushy and marshy areas, up to 3 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation change.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier.
  • Instructor: Denny Olson.
  • The program will begin 7 a.m. on day 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 miles with 1,000 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is requred, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here