Grand Teton, Yellowstone National Parks Offering Migratory Bird Day Activities

With any luck, you might spot a sandhill crane in Yellowstone during this weekend's celebration of International Migratory Bird Day. Kurt Repanshek photo.

What better day to go on a ranger-led tour of birding sites in Grand Teton or Yellowstone national parks than on International Migratory Bird Day?

The two neighboring parks will mark the celebration this weekend with birding tours as well as a host of other activities, such as the annual bird count in Grand Teton and games and craft programs that Yellowstone has arranged for youngsters at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.

At Grand Teton, ranger naturalist Andrew Langford on Saturday will visit areas throughout the park that provide excellent opportunities to locate, identify, and count birds as part of the North American Migration Count. The free activity begins at 8 a.m. in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming, and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond near Jackson Lake Lodge. Reservations are not required.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count in Grand Teton, call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307-739-3399. Participants of the Migratory Bird Day activity are reminded that park entrance stations are open; therefore, they will need to present a park pass to travel through these entrance gates.

In Yellowstone, which is marking the celebration on Sunday, the day begins at 8:00 a.m. inside the park at the picnic area at Madison Junction. Participants will meet for a ranger-led, bird-watching car caravan along the Madison River, featuring birds of lodgepole pine forests and grassy riparian meadows, sandhill cranes, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, songbirds and a bald eagle nest. The field trip will conclude at noon. Suggested items for the field trip include warm clothes, water, binoculars and a snack, if desired.

International Migratory Bird Day programs, games and crafts will take place from 1:00 p.m. through 5:00 p.m. at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. Children of all ages can play the migration game "It’s a Risky Journey," create bird masks and origami or participate in other activities. At 1:00 p.m., a Discovery Center naturalist will give a live raptor program using a rough-legged hawk and western screech owl, followed by a presentation titled "Not-so-bird Brained: The Mysterious Raven" at 2:00 p.m.

Join National Park Service Ranger Katy Duffy at 3:00 p.m. for a presentation on the birds of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The day's events will conclude with another captive raptor program at 4:00 p.m.

The activities at the Discovery Center are free of charge, but those wishing to explore the rest of the center will be required to pay a fee, and field trip participants are required to pay Yellowstone's entrance fee of $25 per vehicle. For further information on Yellowstone's IMBD programs or field trips call Katy Duffy at 307-344-2754.

Migratory bird day is observed each year in May to celebrate and support bird conservation. IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight—an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that may contribute to worldwide declines.