Winter Birds of Glacier National Park
Instructor: Denny Olson
February 27 at 9 a.m.
Winter birding in Montana can be both challenging and exceptionally rewarding. 177 bird species call Montana home for the winter, with about 30 of those species found inside Glacier National Park. Led by expert birder and ecologist Denny Olson, this course will travel through some of Glacier National Park’s most prime winter bird habitat in search and study of these hardy winter species. Along with avian ecology, we will discuss some of the plant ecosystems and adaptations that provide the critical forage and habitat that our winter birds need to survive.
Meeting place: Apgar Village parking lot (adjacent to The Cedar Tree gift shop/Apgar Village Lodge & Cabins) 48°31’42.3″N 113°59’37.4″W
Itinerary: (subject to change) We will meet in the parking lot adjacent to The Cedar Tree gift shop/Apgar Village Lodge & Cabins at 9 a.m. We will walk/snowshoe and birdwatch the Lower McDonald Creek/Oxbow area in the morning, having lunch on the trail. We will continue bird watching along the shores of Lake McDonald in the afternoon and finish at the parking lot by 2 p.m.
Food: Please pack a trail lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. We will spend the entire day on the trial.
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, or in person at the drive up kiosk at the West Glacier entrance station.
Equipment: Most importantly are warm clothing layers (synthetic and wool materials only, cotton is NOT recommended), waterproof outer layers, comfortable winter boots, a warm winter hat, waterproof winter gloves, a trail lunch, snacks, water (we recommend at least 1-2 liters), backpack, and sunscreen. We will be on snowshoes for this course. Snowshoes will be available to borrow at the meeting location, however if you have your own pair please bring them along. Trekking poles can be helpful for balance on the trail. Binoculars are very useful, as well as bird field guides, a notebook, and a writing utensil (ballpoint ink pens tend to freeze in the winter, pencils and sharpies are best). A small foam sit-pad can come in handy for our lunch break.
Weather: The weather in West Glacier is generally ~10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the Kalispell area, with a much higher snowpack than in the valleys. Expect cold temperatures, snow, and wind. It is always best to have extra layers than not enough.
Physical Requirements: Easy-Moderate. We will be snowshoeing along a mostly flat trail for up to 2 miles at an easy pace, stopping to identify and observe bird species. We may venture off-trail at times where “breaking trail” in snowshoes will be necessary.