Bridger-Teton National Forest
Included in the forest's fauna are 355 species of birds. Of those, 320 species are considered to be inhabitants of western Wyoming. Of the 320 species, 81 are considered year-round residents, 157 summer residents, 68 occurring during summer and fall migrations, and 14 winter residents. The remaining 35 species, whose normal range does not include western Wyoming, have been observed as accidental occurrences.
Two federally classified endangered bird species, Balk Eagle and Whooping Crane, inhabit the forest. Boreal Owl, Great Gray Owl, Northern Goshawk, and three-toed woodpecker, Forest Service Intermountain Region sensitive bird species, can also be found in the forest, with concentrations in the Grey River Drainage. Harlequin Duck, Common Loon, and Trumpeter Swan are other Forest Service sensitive species found here. The Harlequin Duck is rare and has been observed in the Gros Ventre drainage and on Fremont Lake. The Common Loon, also rare, is sometimes seen on the large lakes during migrations.
From the special management species, it is apparent that the forest is a raptor haven. In addition to the five raptors listed, another 25 can be seen, including Osprey, Golden Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Great Horned owl, and Snowy owl. On a good fall day, it is not unusual to see over 50 perched Red-tailed hawks.
Waterfowl are plentiful as well. Due to its rarity and magnificence, the species generating the most interest is the Trumpeter Swan, which can be viewed at several of the larger lakes without recreation development, such as Upper Slide Lake in the Gros Ventre drainage, Mosquito Lake on the Union Pass Road, Lily Lake on Forest road 024, and Enos Lakes in the Teton Wilderness. Other waterfowl of note include the Tundra Swan, Snow Goose, Ross' Goose, Barrows Goldeneye, and Harlequin Duck.
Sandhill Cranes and Blue, Sage, and Ruffed Grouse, are common on the forest. The best place to see Sandhill Cranes is in the broad valleys by driving the Green River and Gros Ventre roads. Whooping Cranes have been observed along the Green River north of Dollar Lake and the Beaver Creek area west of Daniel. Blue and Ruffed Grouse are found in most all forested areas with hot spots on Munger Mountain, accessed by a forest trail about three miles up Fall Creek road. A good place to view Sage Grouse is north of Jackson in the sage-covered valley bottoms adjacent to the forest in Grand Teton National Park close to Jackson Airport. The highest concentration of leks can be seen via a tour run by the Park.
Excellent birding is found along Fall Creek Road, which is partially on the National Forest and goes through a multitude of habitats from river bottoms to montane forest. During breeding season (June to July), it is not uncommon to see or hear more than 60 bird species. To get to Fall Creek Road, travel south out of Jackson U.S. 26 about 15 miles to the Fall Creek turn-off. The road precedes the Fall Creek Road/Wilson road sign that is slightly more than a mile past Astoria Hot Springs. The road is approximately 18 miles and dirt most of the way, but not heavily traveled and has many turnouts. The road ends at highway 22 in Wilson, which is eight miles west of Jackson. Look sharp on your trip to Fall Creek Road and back to Jackson and you will most likely see Balk Eagles, Osprey, and Black-billed Magpies.
About 0.4 miles from the sign, one should stop to check the marshy area for Common Snipe, Sora, and Warblers (Yellow, Yellowthroat, and MacGilliways). Calliope and Broad tailed Vireos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Red-tailed hawks.
As the road climbs and opens up it passes marshy areas with extensive willows. Here you will normally see Dusky Flycatchers, Spotted Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Song Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Sage Wrens, and sometimes Northern Harrier.
Prichard Pass, 6000' (about mile 2.5). The forested area supports House Wrens, Chirping Sparrows, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers also may be seen.
The flood plains near Red Top Meadows at mile 7 are great for Willow Flycatcher, Hummers (Rufous, Calliope, and Broad-tailed), Brewer's Blackbird, and Swallows (Barn, Violet-green, Tree, and Bank). In the rocks to the south are Clark's Nutcracker and Rock Wrens.
Around Butler Creek, mile 8.5, on the sage butte is an excellent place to study Green-tailed Towhee.
After crossing a small rise at mile 14, a panoramic view of the Snake River and Gros Ventre and Teton Mountains provides and opportunity to see Swainson's and Red-tailed Hawks, Balk Eagles, Osprey, and even American White Pelicans.
Another fine excursion is along the Gros Ventre Road leading the Gros Ventre Slide Geologic Area, the site of a massive landslide in 1925 which created Lower Slide Lake. To get to the Gros Ventre Road, head north out of Jackson on US 26 about 8 miles and turn right just past the Kelly sign at the Gros Ventre Junction. Proceed past Kelly about a mile and turn east on the Gros Ventre Road. There are numerous turnouts along the Gros Ventre River and at Upper and Lower Slide Lakes. A trumpeter Swan overlook is located at Upper Slide Lake about 20 miles up the road. There is active nesting by Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Trumpeter Swans along the route. Other species which may be encountered include: Sage Grouse, Sandhill Crane, Vesper Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruffed Grouse, Western Tanager, Red-tailed Hawk, Marsh Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Osprey, and waterfowl.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication