Best Bird Watching in Bozeman

As you may or may not know, people who call themselves “birders” can be extremely serious (in a good way, of course). But you don’t have to identify as a birder to delight in and enjoy the many species that pass through the Gallatin Valley or call Bozeman their home. Bozeman is a migratory hotspot that provides a wide array of bird-watching opportunities throughout the year. The best bird-watching spots in the area play host to several species of finches, buntings, swallows, hummingbirds, sparrows, songbirds, warblers, ducks, birds of prey, and many others. So whether you’re a serious birder, a dabbler, or just bird-curious, here are some excellent places to watch and hear birds in Bozeman. 

Lindley Park / Gallagator Trail

Lindley Park and Gallagator Trail start at the east end of Main Street, providing a close, in-town oasis for fantastic bird spotting year-round. An array of musical notes can be heard from the singing of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and Yellow-Rumped Warbler. These vocalists are joined by local birds such as the Black-Billed Magpie, Mountain Chickadee, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper. In this area, you may also get the chance to see birds of prey such as Cooper's Hawk, Merlin, Great Horned Owl, and Snowy Owl. 


East Gallatin Recreation Area

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project, at least 220 species have been observed at the East Gallatin Recreation Area, an 83-acre park that was created through the reclamation of an old gravel pit. Known as “Bozeman Beach” to the locals, the park’s willow and cottonwood forest growth mixed with open areas that include both Glen Lake and a flowing stream of the East Gallatin River allow this diverse array of species a perfect place to call home. A few of the birds you may see are the Western Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, and several species of ducks.



Drinking Horse / "M" Trail

If you're up for a short hike, the Drinking Horse or College "M" trails will both give you some excellent opportunities to see birds in Bozeman. A quick drive from downtown Bozeman, both trails are situated at the foot of the Bridger Mountains, offering a wooded sanctuary of cottonwood, willow, dogwood, and Douglas fir and a conducive habitat for many types of birds. Some species you might see on both trails include the Calliope Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, Black-Headed Grosbeak, and American Goldfinch. On the M trail specifically, look for Townsend's Solitaire, Lazuli Bunting, Green-Tailed Towhee, and Chipping Sparrow. On Drinking Horse trail you might hear the music of Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, and Red-Breasted Nuthatch and get to see several types of raptors.


Triple Tree Trail

Triple Tree Trail serves as a transition area between the Gallatin Mountains and the grasslands, Limestone Creek, and some brushy deciduous areas, giving Bozeman bird watchers several easily accessible birding options. For such a short hike, this trail offers some of the greatest diversity of birds in the Gallatin Valley. At the start of the trail, you might see Ruffed Grouse, Calliope hummingbirds, Veery, or Lincoln's Sparrow. The Triple Tree Trail then extends into a forest of lodgepole pines and Douglas fir, where you may spot Cassin's Vireo, Swainson's Thrush, and the Western Tanager.


Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Less than an hour’s drive from Bozeman, the limestone cliffs, Douglas fir forest, Great Basin scrub, and isolated springs of the Lewis and Clark Caverns provide a home for an array of birds including Peregrine Falcon, Common Poorwill, Cassin's Vireo, Hermit Thrush, and Lark Sparrow, to name a few. Whether you're driving the roads or hiking a trail in this area, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park will give birders a chance to glimpse a unique combination of birds in both the summer and winter months.



Ennis Lake

Ennis Lake is a major stop for thousands of birds migrating through the area. Species you may get to see include the Common Loon, Eared and Western Grebe, Trumpeter Swan, and Tundra Swan. While on your way to Ennis Lake, you'll find grasslands as well as some riverside spotting areas along the Madison River. If traveling to the lake for birding, be prepared to do some scoping as this body of water is fairly large.


As you can see, Bozeman offers great opportunities for both serious and amateur birders alike. If you’re interested in learning more about birds in the area, check out the Sacajawea Audubon Society and Montana Raptor Conservation Center, two organizations dedicated to caring for the birds at both a local and state level.

To learn more about outdoor recreation in Bozeman, head on over to


More information and pictures about the birds listed above can be found through the links below.

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