Best time to travel to Yellowstone National Park


This park is a good place to see water birds, migrating species, and birds of prey

Birdwatching in Yellowstone National Park 2019 - Best Time
Photo by

Diane Renkin | Yellowstone National Park | NPS

Even if you are not a birdwatcher, hiking around the beautiful park you will undoubtedly see various bird species. Wetlands and coastal areas, especially those covered with willows, aspen, and cottonwoods attract the largest number of different bird species.

Osprey hunting fish over the Firehole River 2019
Osprey hunting fish over the Firehole River
Watching for wildlife, Lamar Valley 2019
Watching for wildlife, Lamar Valley

One of the best places to observe water birds and birds of prey is Hayden Valley. Here you can see sandhill cranes nesting in this area. Along the river, you can find lots of ducks, geese, and American white pelicans, bald eagles and osprey hunting for fish, and northern harriers trying to catch some rodents.

Sandhill crane 2019
Sandhill crane
Bald eagle in a tree near bison carcass 2019
Bald eagle in a tree near bison carcass
Male and female Harlequin ducks 2019
Male and female Harlequin ducks

Other good spots are Blacktail Pond, Floating Lake Island, and the Madison River. The best birdwatching season may be spring, as during this period birds are very active and lots of migrating species come back from their winter journeys. You can find them in their best plumage, singing and attracting mates. Then, they search the best place for nesting and defend their territories from others. From mid-May until early July you can easily meet a large number of birds during your morning walks. Starting from August and till October birds migrate and this is also a good time for seeing various species.

Bohemian waxwing, Bunsen Peak 2019
Bohemian waxwing, Bunsen Peak

In early November you can find the tundra swans on the water bodies. Those that stay in the park year round include common raven, Canada goose, trumpeter swan, dusky grouse (formerly blue grouse), gray jay, red-breasted nuthatch, American dipper, and mountain chickadee. There are also a few species that come here for the winter, such as common goldeneyes, bohemian waxwings, and rough-legged hawks.

Mountain chickadee 2019
Mountain chickadee