Birds & Science

We use the best available science to ensure the survival of Montana's birds and other wildlife.


Birding Hotspots

Birding is one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in the United States. Ask any birder and they will be able to tell you why: the enjoyment that comes from being outdoors, the satisfaction of learning about the natural world, and the pleasure of seeing an unexpected flash of color in the trees. Here we provide statewide information on where to see birds, how to find out what other birders are seeing, and more.

Montana Audubon and local Audubon chapters have put out “birding hotspots” maps and checklists for numerous locations around the state. Below you can access the current hotspots publications or websites. Be sure to check out the websites to find more detailed information and checklists.

Montana State Bird Check List, 2018

The 2018 edition of the Checklist of Montana Birds is based on current bird distribution data. The state bird list is a cooperative project between the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Montana Audubon; the Montana Natural Heritage Program; and the Montana Bird Records Committee. Hard copies will be available free of charge at all FWP regional offices and the Helena headquarters, or you can download a copy below.

Billings Hotspots

Billings Birding Hotspots

Find more information and checklists at the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society website!


Bitterroot Valley Hotspots

Bitterroot Valley Birding Hotspots

Find more information and checklists at the Bitterroot Valley Audubon Society website!


Bozeman Hotspots

Gallatin Valley Birding Hotspots (2014 edition)

Find more information and checklists at the Sacajawea Audubon Society website!


Central Montana Hotspots

Central Montana Birding Hotspots

Find more information on the Central Montana website!


Eastern Montana Hotspots

Eastern Montana Birding Hotspots

Find more information and checklists at the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society website!


Helena Hotspots

Helena Birding Hotspots
Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Birding

Find more information and checklists at the Last Chance Audubon Society website!


Flathead Valley Hotspots

Flathead Basin Birding Hotspots
Birding Guide for the Flathead Valley

Find more information and checklists at the Flathead Valley Audubon Society website!


Freezeout Lake

Coming Soon!



Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Birding Checklist
Glacier County Birding

Find more information on the Glacier National Park website!


Great Falls Hotspots

Great Falls River’s Edge Trail Checklist (2014 edition)

Check out the Upper Missouri Breaks Facebook page!


Missoula Hotspots

Missoula Birding Hotspots

Find more information and checklists at the Five Valleys Audubon Society website!


Montana eBird

A great way to keep year-round track of your bird lists and contribute bird data for science! On this site, you can access a great deal of Montana-specific bird information about species, recent checklists, local hotspots and links to data collected by thousands of other eBirders across the state. In addition, photos from local birders, sightings of uncommon birds and Montana Audubon’s news feed can easily be found there.

Montana Important Bird Areas

Long-term conservation of birds and their habitats is a major goal of Montana Audubon. Central to this goal is the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program which is a global initiative to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical for the conservation of birds. Since 1995, the National Audubon Society has taken the lead in implementing the IBA Program in the US, and Montana Audubon administers the program in Montana.


Southwest Montana Hotspots

Southwest Montana Birding Hotspots

Find more information on the Southwest Montana website!


Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park Birding
Yellowstone Bird Project Annual Reports

Find more information on the Yellowstone National Park website!


Develop a List of Montana Birds for your Area

A bird list for a specific area in Montana can be developed by:

  • In the upper left corner, there is a filter that is defaulted to “Statewide.” Click on the down arrow on that filter and select the area you are interested in: county; township; LL, QLL or QQLL; etc.
  • The definitions of LL, QLL, and QQLL can be found HERE.
  • The boundaries of each LL, QLL, and QQLL, can be found HERE. All maps on this page are printable as 8-1/2″ X 11″ pdf maps. There are two types of maps available:

>  Individual QQLL Reference Maps. Detailed individual maps of each QQLL are available. From a map of the state of Montana, this interactive map lets you select any QQLL map you want. You can look at maps on your computer or print them to take into the field.

>  Travel Maps. Travel maps show QQLL boundaries for large sections of Montana, with the entire state divided into 7 regions. These maps allow you to roughly determine which QQLL you are in.

  • If you only want a bird list (you can also get mammals, reptiles, etc.), click on the ‘down’ arrow on the adjacent “All Species” filter and click on “Birds.” Similarly, you can filter out species of a particular status with this filter that is currently defaulted to “All Status.” For information on status, click HERE.
  • To see your list, click on the “+” next to the birds link at the bottom of the report to expand/see the list of birds. The total number of species is reported in the header of the report.
  • To print or download the information: below the animal/plant summary table, click the “Print Species List” link or export a PDF Field Guide by clicking on the “Download PDF FieldGuide” link above the report. The Field Guide provides one page of information for each species.

Montana-Specific Bird Books

Birds of Montana by Marks, Hendricks & Casey. Buteo Books, Hardcover, 672 pp, 2016. Birds of Montana is the first comprehensive reference on the state’s birds since Saunders published A Distributional List of the Birds of Montana in 1921, and it is the only work that provides a thorough review of the status, distribution, relative abundance, ecology, and conservation of the 433 bird species that have been found in the state since Montana entered the Union.

ISBN: 9780931130199  (Purchase here)


Montana Birds by Caleb Putnam and Gregory Kennedy. Lone Pine Publishing, Paperback, 176 pp, 2005. This compact guide profiles 150 of Montana’s most abundant or notable bird species, illustrated in color. You’ll also find range maps, a quick reference guide that is organized into color-coded family groupings and a map of the state’s best birding sites.

ISBN: 9781551054636


Birds of Montana Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. Adventure Publications (MN), Paperback, 353pp, 2004. With Stan Tekiela’s famous field guide, bird identification is simple and informative. This book features 136 species of Montana birds, organized by color for ease of use. Do you see a yellow bird and don’t know what it is? Go to the yellow section to find out.

ISBN:  9781591930976 (Purchase here)


Birding Montana by Terry McEneaney. Written by Terry McEneaney. Globe Pequot Press, Paperback, 316pp, 1998. The staff ornithologist for Yellowstone National Park, this book takes you on a tour of the best birding sites from the west slope of the Rock Mountains to the eastern prairies, including Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

ISBN: 9781560442325


Birding Trail: Montana: 240 Birding Locations Across the Big Sky State by Chuck Robbins. Wilderness Adventures Press (Sandhill Crane Press), 508pp, 2014.  Chuck has divided the state into six regions: Glacier Country, Southwest Montana, Central Montana, Yellowstone Country, Missouri River Country, and Southeast Montana. Chuck describes each of the birding locations, the key birds, the best seasons for birding, and the area description along with driving directions and GPS coordinates. There are six regional maps showing the birding locations in each region, along with over 70 maps of individual locations.

ISBN: 9781932098990 (Purchase here)

Montana Birds: A pocket folding Guide to Familiar Species by James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung. Waterford Press. 12pp, 2001. This beautifully illustrated guide highlights over 140 familiar and unique species and includes an ecoregion map featuring prominent bird-viewing areas. Laminated for durability, this lightweight, pocket-sized folding guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use by visitors and residents alike.

ISBN: 9781583551110


Great Places: Montana. A Recreational Guide to Montana’s Public Lands and Historical Places for Birding, Hiking, photography, Fishing, Hunting, Camping by Chuck Robbins. Wilderness Adventures Press (Sandhill Crane Press). 406pp, 2008. Special emphasis on bird-watching, with bird lists for each site, and times of day and year to find them. Camping, trails, driving accessibility. This comprehensive guide details Montana’s vast areas of public lands, including wildlife refuges, state parks, Glacier National Park, and many other places that everyone is welcome to explore.

ISBN: 9781932098594 (Purchase here)

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