Bird Watching

Gray bird in a treetop
Clark's Nutcrackers can often be found in the treetops at higher elevations.

NPS Photo/Jenny Hamilton

Many types of birds can be found in Great Basin National Park and the surrounding area. A large variety of birds can be seen in the many different habitats encountered between the town of Baker (5,280 feet elevation) and the end of the Scenic Drive (10,000 feet elevation). Many birds such as the Common Raven, Northern Flicker and the American Robin, can be found in more than one type of habitat.

Ask for a bird checklist at one of the visitor centers, which lists of all the birds found in Great Basin National Park. If you see any birds listed as "uncommon" or "not found" on the current checklist, please report it to a ranger!

The following is a listing of a few of the birds and some of the areas with easy access where they may be found.

Sagebrush Grasslands

On your drive up from Baker, in the sagebrush grasslands, you might see:

  • Killdeer
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Golden Eagle
  • Northern Harrier
  • Common Raven
  • American Kestrel
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • California Quail
  • Eurasian Chukar
  • Sage Grouse
  • Mourning Dove
  • Horned Lark
  • Scrub Jay
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Western Kingbird
  • Barn Swallow
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Song Sparrow
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Cassin's Finch
  • European Starling
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Western Meadowlark
If you are lucky, you could also see birds such as ducks and other waterbirds flying overhead, moving from one pond to another. Some of these include:
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Canada Geese
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Cinnamon Teal
During the winter, a lucky sighting could include a bald eagle on a telephone pole.

At dusk or dawn during the summer, stop and listen for the whinnying of a common snipe, the call of a great horned owl, or the "bull-bat" roar of a common nighthawk. Watch out for the "copper penney colored" eye of a common poor-will reflecting in your headlights - they often see the roadway as the perfect place for their habit of "flycatching" from the ground.

Pinyon-Juniper Woods

As you enter the pinyon-juniper woods and stop by the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, you may also start seeing:

  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds
  • Pinyon Jay
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Solitary Vireo
  • Say's Phoebe
  • White-crowned Sparrow
At Baker Creek Campground, the mixture of sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, and stream-side plants brings in:
  • American Dipper
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Cassin's Finch
  • Black-chinned and Broad-trailed Hummingbird
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Western Tanager
  • Black-headed Grosbeak

Ponderosa Pines

A walk through the Ponderosa pines along Lehman Creek, in Upper Lehman Creek Campground may reveal:
  • Violet-green Swallow
  • Red-naped Sapsucker
  • Downy and Hairy Woodpecker
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Bushtit
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • House Wren
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Black-headed Grosbeak
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Rufous-sided Towhee
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Brown-headed Cowbird

Alpine Aspin

At Wheeler Peak Campground, and along the Alpine Lake Loop, aspens and limber pines attract a variety of birds, including:

  • Clark's Nutcrackers
  • Stellar's Jays
  • Townsend's Solitaire
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Bushtit
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Pine Siskin
  • Brown Creeper
  • Pygmy Nuthatch
  • Cooper's Hawk

On occasion, you may find Red Crossbills if you are lucky.

A hike to the small glacier takes you through the ancient bristlecone pine forest to an area where very little vegetation exists. In the vicinity of the glacier and the rock glacier below, one can usually find the "Black" form of the Rosy Finch, as well as Rock Wren, and the ubiquitous Raven.


Last updated: August 11, 2022

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100 Great Basin National Park
Baker, NV 89311


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