Grand Teton National Park birds

Bald Eagle

adult who just caught a fish:

Bald Eagle just above the water, flying off with a fish

NPS photos of adult and juvenile Bald Eagles:

The juvenile Bald Eagle above will not get white head feathers until it is about 4 years old.

Adult Bald Eagles have a wingspan of 6 to 7.5 feet (182cm-229cm).

Bald Eagle calls can be heard here and here.

More photos of Bald Eagles on our college trips are here.


Canada Geese , 25 inches long, who mate for life, are often seen in flocks.

birds in flight in a line

Canada Geese calls can be heard here.

two adult Canada Geese and three goslings

2 adult Canada Geese and four gosslings on a lake


Golden Eagles hunt farther away from water and nest along cliffs.

head of Golden Eagle

bird in flight from below

bird in flight one wing widespread

Great Blue Heron (sometime referred to as a crane) “the largest heron in North America. Often seen standing silently along inland rivers or lakeshores, or flying high overhead, with slow wingbeats, its head hunched back onto its shoulders.” Lenght 38.2 – 53.9 inches (97-137 cm), Wingspan: 65.8 – 79.1 inches (167-201 cm)

heron flying

2 herons taking off into flight

bird standing

Great Gray Owls are “the tallest owl in North America with the largest wingspan. Males hunt during daylight making them visible in the lodgepole forest.”

great gray owl and fuzzy babiesgreat gray owl facing the viewer


Harlequin ducks are very strong swimmers, even in whitewater.
ducks in a row on water

male and female duck on a rock


Common Loons sometimes nest on back-county lakes we have stayed overnight at. (Loons are unable to walk on land.)

two loons in water, a third one starting to fly away

Loon tremolo calls can be heard here



Magpie with widespread wings

side view of magpie

These pictures are from a video we shot of Magpies darting in and out trying to get bits of a fish, or even get the Bald Eagle eating the fish to fly off and leave the fish behind:

eagle eating five: eagle eating 3: eagle eating four: eagle eating 2: bald eagle eating 1:

Magpie sounds can be heard here.

Northern Flickers, (woodpecker), about 11-12 inches long, sometimes nest in hollow Aspen trees.

bird on side of tree

Northern Flicker calls and rattle calls can be heard here and here.

Osprey (fish hawk) hunt along the water, often in the vicinity of Bald Eagles. Osprey are 23 inches long and have a wingspan of 50-71 inches (127-180 cm).

Osprey with wings wide out

When you get used to the huge size of nests of Osprey, often built on top of a dead tree (and Bald Eagles) you will spot them better.

bird on huge nest

Besides swans, other huge white birds are pelicans , same as we see along the Pacific coast, if they have a huge yellow beak and throat pouch.

two pelicans floating next to each other - photo courtesy of NPS

Water Ouzels (also known as American Dippers) live and play in the water. We have regularly seen them in Cascade Canyon, especially where the trail gets fairly close to the water farther up the trail, higher up in the canyon. Naturalist John Muir said the ouzel was his favorite bird, and wrote: ” . . . “the little ouzel is flitting from rock to rock along the rapid swirling Canon Creek, diving for breakfast in icy pool . . . not web-footed, yet he dives fearlessly into foaming rapids, seeming to take the greater delight the more boisterous the stream . . .” Muir wrote an entire chapter about ouzels, (chapter XIII) in The Mountains of California, which you can read at:

Ouzels build their nests in the spray of water.

bird sitting on a low rock in the river

Ouzel sounds can be heard here.

Peregrine Falcon:

There can be closures from May to August at Baxter’s Pinnacle and Descent Gully near the mouth of Cascade Canyon to protect an active Peregrine Falcon nest.

peregrine falcon from below

peregrine falcon on rock


Raven (bigger than a Crow you might see at home, Ravens are 24 inches long and have a wingspan of 53 inches, Crows are 17.5 inches long and have a wingspan of 39 inches).


Ravens want to get into your gear, and some have figured out how to get into day packs or . . . a bag tied onto a motorcycle:

raven pecking at a bag on a motorcycle

Raven sounds can be heard here and here.


Getting to experience Sandhill Cranes singing is a favorite part of our trips, especially when we are lucky enough to see pairs dancing.

Yellowstone park notes they are the “tallest birds in Yellowstone, they stand about 4 feet (1.2 m) high. They have a wingspan of approximately 6.5 feet (2 m) and are often mistaken for standing humans or other animals at a distance.”

Sandhill Crane

birds in flight

tall bird and tiny chick just visible in the grass

Sandhill Crane songs can be heard here and here.


Steller’s Jays have a mid-to-deep blue coloring with charcoal black shoulders and a crest at the back of their head.

Steller Jay

Read about the structural color (as opposed to pigmented color) of Jay feathers.

Kenai Fjords National Park notes: “The wings of jays are short and rounded, allowing them more maneuverability through dense trees, and a long, rounded tail acts like a rudder to improve maneuverability as well. Their flight pattern is often a few flaps followed by a glide as they lose altitude. Jays must beat their wings repeatedly to climb back up again. . . Steller’s jays might be considered the alarm system for surrounding communities. Their call is a cheeky, repetitive “shack, shack, shack” and is often recognized as a warning call by other birds and mammals in the area. As with many of the Corvidae family, jays are excellent mimics. Scientists have studied jays repeating the call of the red-tailed hawk to scare away predators.”

Steller’s Jays want to get at your food:

blue jay on table next to camping stove

Steller’s Jay calls can be heard here.

Trumpeter Swan: can be found (according to the park) at: “Oxbow Bend, Swan Lake and Flat Creek in the National Elk Refuge.” We have also seen them at Christian Pond.

NPS photo swan landing: a Trumpeter swam with outspread wings landing on a waterway

trumpeter swan and cygnet in the foreground, more of the family in the background

Mount Moran and swan oxbow bend 2011: Mount Moran in the background and swan on the water at oxbow bend on the snake river swan and ladies thumb knotweed: swan on a lake with pink wildfowers floating on the water in foreground

The difference between a tundra swan and a trumpeter swan (wingspan of 6 feet, 2 inches to 8 feet, 2 inches(185 to 250 cm)) is that the tundra swan has a yellow spot near the eye and the trumpeter swan has a thin pink stripe at the base of their upper mandible.


long stripe of tree leaves with blue sky showing through

many of the above are the birds we see most frequently on our Outdoor Club trips to Grand Teton National Park. We most often see them when we are out kayaking, especially on Oxbow Bend.

For bird (and animal) watching you will r e a l l y want your own binoculars.

The club owns a few pairs of waterproof binoculars, but not enough for each person in a large group.

Grand Teton National Park offers these Bird Watching Etiquette tips:

• Nesting birds are easily disturbed. If an adult on a nest flies off at your approach or circles you and screams an alarm, you are too close. Unattended nestlings quickly succumb to predation or exposure to the elements.

• Do not feed birds or any wildlife.

• Do not play bird songs or use bird calls. Such sounds disturb territorial males and nesting pairs.

• Stay on trails to preserve delicate habitat.

• Obey all wildlife closures.

• Good birding areas often attract other wildlife. Maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from wolves and bears and 25 yards from other animals. Do not position yourself between a female and her offspring.

mountain range with snow on peaks

Download photos of over a hundred birds of Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone park (on the border of Grand Teton) offers bird songs:

Download this instead of buying it at a visitor center, (well worth looking at for info about animals and much more):

NPS photo Yellowstone wildlife montage Robert Hynes 560 pxls: Rocky Mountain mammal size comparisons has photos and comparisons of beavers, squirrels, pika, marmot, elk, moose, bison, fox, coyote, wolf, golden-mantled ground squirrel, chipmunk, Red Squirrel (also known as) Chickaree, Unita Ground squirrels, bobcat, lynx, mountain lion (cougar), pine marten, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, grizzly and black bears.

Grand Tetons sightseeing

Hiking Advice has hot weather hiking advice, hiking logistics and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?

two bears walking

Please, no trail running
Grand Teton National park: “Trail running is strongly discouraged; you may startle a bear.”
Glacier National Park: “Trail running is discouraged as there have been an increasing number of injuries and fatalities due to runners surprising bears at close range.”

Don’t bike or jog/run by yourself, it is safer to bike in groups since there are very large, potentially dangerous and unpredictable animals potentially everywhere.
Data suggest that rates of sudden encounters with bears are much higher among cyclists than hikers.
Grand Tetons biking includes statistics about cyclist encounters with grizzly bears.

Your safety in grizzly bear territory tells you what to do if you see a bear in the distance or a bear charges you and has info about Bear Pepper Sprays and what might happen before a bison charges.

During a thunderstorm, don’t take a shower or use a sink, including washing dishes. Don’t talk on a land line phone. Don’t use your I pod. Don’t get zapped! Please read Thunderstorm and lightning safety

Road trip advice and etiquette

People often get too close to animals when they are trying to take a selfie.

Grand Tetons trip equipment.

Details about our next club trip to Grand Teton National Park start at Grand Tetons.

Grand Tetons trip pages index has brief descriptions of most of the pages about this trip.