Birding by Ear in Glacier Park

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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

$125

Hike Overview

June 17, 2023: 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 a day 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 on an adventure led by expert birder Denny Olson, who possesses an intimate knowledge of Glacier’s unending hideaways. Enjoy a day 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.

Meeting place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather) We will begin with an introduction to the basics of birding, common birds of Glacier, and the habitats in which we will be birding. We will conduct an exploration of bird songs by visiting a burned forest. After regrouping at Field Camp for a snack, we will return to the field at, heading for Johns Lake fen, Avalanche Cedars (old growth birds), and the McDonald Creek cascades to search for (with our ears) wet meadow and pond birds, thrushes, Water Ouzels, Harlequin ducks, vireos, and Pacific wrens. We will return to Field Camp for lunch and wrap up with a final discussion and review of species that we heard. The course will finish around 4 p.m. and will not be canceled due to weather.

Food: Please bring a trail lunch, plenty of water, and snacks for the day.

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 Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are 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 are very useful, as well as bird field guides.

Physical Requirements: Moderate: 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 may be on or off trail in brushy and marshy areas, up to 3 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation change.

Recommended Reading:

  • The Sibley Field Guide to Birds
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds
  • Birds of North America Golden Guide
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Bird Songs (CD).
  • Bird Watching for Dummies

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What to Expect On Your Birding by Ear in Glacier Park

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. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 miles with 1,000 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is required, 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