Fall Birds of Glacier


Program Start Date:


SINGLE DAY COURSE – Learn about the birds that stay behind in the fall, and discover some the behaviors and adaptations they display as they prepare for winter.

(Summer Activity Level)

Fall Birds of Glacier

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Fall Birds of Glacier
Instructor: Josh Arrants
September 19 at 7 a.m.

As autumn takes hold in Glacier National Park, breeding season winds down and fall migration begins. Familiar summer residents are preparing to head south, winter residents are trickling in, year-round species are settling in for a long winter and a number of species will be showing up only briefly on their way to their wintering grounds. Few places offer the diversity of habitats and the challenges of changing seasons like the Crown of the Continent. Take a look at fall birding in Glacier National Park and not only observe songbirds, birds of prey and waterfowl; but also learn avian ecology and the various ways birds approach the transition to shorter days and colder temperatures. This course is for birders and those interested in avian behavior of all levels, even beginners.

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather) We will begin at Field Camp at 7 a.m., followed by spending an hour viewing slides and discussing the various habitats we will be exploring, along with common birds we expect to see during our time in the field. We will also learn how avian species found inside the park prepare for the shift from summer to fall and winter, from changes in behavior and diet to how mixed flocks communicate and share information. After the classroom time, we will head out into the field to hike along McDonald Lake and McDonald Creek, in the old growth of the large trees of Avalanche Cedars and then to a fen and wet meadow or two for songbirds, waterfowl and birds of prey. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled 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 entry 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 your register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2 liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Binoculars are highly recommended and field guides of your choice.

Physical Requirements: Easy to moderate difficulty. While some birding will be done on flat surfaces in areas along Lake McDonald, McDonald Creek, and Trail of the Cedars, we will be hiking at a slow pace on trails and in areas that may be brushy and uneven; up to 3 miles and elevation gains of 1000 feet.

Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credits for our courses.

Additional information

Refund Policy

The Glacier Institute has a 7-day cancellation policy for a full refund with all of our courses.

Did you know Glacier Institute members receive a 10% discount?