Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where To Find Grassland BIrds

I have received requests for locations for a number of our "specialty" birds in Valley County so I have decided I would provide a Google Maps link so that people can find some of our birding hot spots in the area.

The first location is in the mixed grass prairie region of northern Valley County. This is an excellent location to find good numbers of a suite of species often considered rare in other areas. In previous years I have stood in one spot and listened to Sprague's Pipits, Baird's Sparrows, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, McCown's Longspurs, and Long-billed Curlews. And not just one individual of each species either. This location is on a large block of state land and requires a state lands recreation permit to bird there. It is labeled "grassland bird road" at Google Maps -see below.

Long-billed Curlew

Baird's Sparrow

The second site is in south Valley County. The route is an excellent spot to locate Mountain Plovers and McCown's Longspurs. Other species often found along this route include Brewer's Sparrows, Lark Buntings, Greater Sage-Grouse, Ferruginous Hawks, and Golden Eagles. Most of this route is on Bureau of Land Management land but it does pass through a few areas of private land. Land ownership (Federal, state, and private) maps can be purchased at the local BLM office in Glasgow. To get to this area go to "Bentonite Road Turnoff - south" location at Google Maps and head south on Bentonite Road to the "start of habitat" marker on Google Maps (again - see below)

McCown's Longspur

Mountain Plover

Here is a link to a Google Map that provides landmarks for the places I am talking about. Remember, both sites are on roads that are generally impassable when wet and quite a distance from any facilities. The area in north Valley County is near a paved highway however and can be accessed from the highway.

A couple of other points on this map are "Wards Reservoir" and Kerr Road Turnoff - West". Kerr Road leads into Wards Reservoir. This is another area that is good for the grassland birds with the addition of a BLM/Duck Unlimited reservoir project that is maintained for wildlife.


Radd Icenoggle said...


Do you think that the Bentonite area would work for Sam and I's Big Day? We always miss a Mountain Plover.

John said...

Hey Radd,
I guess it depends on how much time you want to drop for one species. It is a ways out there and they can be difficult to find at times. You might be able to pick up a few other species you might not find someplace else but it would be at least an hour out and back to the pavement.