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Bird Checklists of the United States

Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Wayan, Idaho


A Bird Haven

Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeast Idaho, 27 miles north of Soda Springs. Grays "Lake" is actually a large shallow marsh of dense bulrush and cattail vegetation with little open water. Lands next to the lake are primarily wet meadows and grasslands. The refuge is a haven for ducks, geese, cranes, and a variety of other waterbirds. It was established in 1965 to protect and restore habitat for nesting waterfowl, sandhill cranes and other wildlife, much attention was focused on Grays Lake NWR in its effort to establish a second wild population of endangered whooping cranes.

From 1975 to 1989 a cross-fostering project was conducted to increase the numbers of whooping cranes. Whooper eggs from Canada were annually placed in sandhill crane nests at Grays Lake NWR. Other methods to increase whooper populations are now being tested, the final outcome of these efforts is still uncertain.

Cranes - A Refuge Hallmark

The Grays Lake Valley has historically been an important nesting and fall staging area for the more numerous sandhill crane. In most years, more than 200 pairs nest on the refuge which means Grays Lake NWR hosts the largest nesting population of greater sandhill cranes in the world. While staging for their migration, crane populations normally peak in late September, at about 3,000 birds.

Viewing Opportunities

Grays Lake NWR provides visitors with many opportunities to observe birdlife. An overlook adjacent to refuge headquarters and public roads that encircle the refuge provide some good vantage points for viewing. May, June, and September are best for viewing aquatic birds, including whooping cranes.

Caution. Be aware that large portions of the refuge are closed to public entry to minimize disturbance to wildlife, particularly whooping cranes. Ways you can help protect the wildlife are outlined in the refuge general leaflet, please follow these visitation guidelines.

Checklist Notes

The bird list contains 199 species which have been noted on Grays Lake NWR or within the Grays Lake watershed. Searching the grasslands and forests surrounding the refuge is often necessary to locate some species. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel and reliable observers in the field have contributed many observations recorded before and after establishment of the refuge. The list continues to be updated to include new observations. Visitors are encouraged to report any noteworthy sightings and details to the refuge manager. Common names used are in accordance with the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition 1983, and July 1985 supplement.


Season Symbols
Sp - Spring, April to May
S - Summer, June to August
F - Fall, September to November
W - Winter, December to March

Species Abundance Symbols
a - abundant: a species that is very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times in a season
r - rare: known to be present, but not every year
* - birds that nest locally
# - threatened or endangered species


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon o - - -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* u u u - ___ Horned Grebe o - - - ___ Eared Grebe* c c c - ___ Western Grebe* o o o - ___ Clark's Grebe - r - -
PELICANS AND CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican r r r - ___ Double-crested Cormorant r r r -
BITTERNS, HERONS AND EGRETS Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* c c c - ___ Great Blue Heron u u u - ___ Cattle Egret o r - - ___ Great Egret r - - - ___ Snowy Egret o o o - ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* o o o -
IBISES Sp S F W ___ White-faced Ibis* c c u -
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan o - o - ___ Trumpeter Swan* u u u - ___ Greater White-Fronted Goose r - - - ___ Snow Goose o - o r ___ Canada Goose* a a a o ___ Wood Duck r r - - ___ Green-winged Teal* c c c o ___ Mallard* a a a u ___ Northern Pintail* a c a o ___ Blue-winged Teal* u u u - ___ Cinnamon Teal* a a c - ___ Gadwall* a c c o ___ Northern Shoveler* c c c - ___ American Wigeon* c u c - ___ Canvasback* c u u - ___ Redhead* c c c - ___ Ring-necked Duck* u o o - ___ Lesser Scaup* c u u - ___ Common Goldeneye u - u o ___ Barrow's Goldeneye* u u u r ___ Bufflehead u - u o ___ Hooded Merganser o - r - ___ Common Merganser o - o o ___ Red-breasted Merganser r - r - ___ Ruddy Duck* u u u -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture u u u -
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS Sp S F W ___ Osprey r r r - ___ Bald Eagle# o r o o ___ Northern Harrier* c c c o ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk* o o o - ___ Cooper's Hawk* o o o - ___ Northern Goshawk* u u u u ___ Swainson's Hawk* c c c - ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c r ___ Ferruginous Hawk* u u u - ___ Rough-legged Hawk u - u c ___ Golden Eagle* u u u u
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* c c c r ___ Merlin r - r - ___ Peregrine Falcon# o o o - ___ Prairie Falcon* u u u -
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Gray Partridge* o o o o ___ Blue Grouse* u u u u ___ Ruffed Grouse* c c c c ___ Sage Grouse* u u u u ___ Sharp-tailed Grouse* o o o o
RAILS Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* u u u - ___ Sora* c c c - ___ American Coot* a a a u
CRANES Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane* a a a r ___ Whooping Crane# c c c -
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover r - r - ___ Killdeer* a a o o
STILTS AND AVOCETS Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* o o o - ___ American Avocet* u u u -
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs u o o - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs r r r - ___ Solitary Sandpiper r - r - ___ Willet* c c u - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* u u u - ___ Long-billed Curlew* c c u - ___ Marbled Godwit o r o - ___ Western Sandpiper - r o - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper r - r - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher u r o -
SNIPE Sp S F W ___ Common Snipe* a a c r
PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope* c c u - ___ Red-necked Phalarope u - - -
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull* a a r - ___ Bonaparte's Gull r - - - ___ Ring-billed Gull u u u - ___ California Gull c o c o ___ Forster's Tern* u u r - ___ Black Tern* u c u -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Mourning Dove* u u u -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c u ___ Burrowing Owl* r r r - ___ Great Gray Owl* r r r r ___ Long-eared Owl* r r r - ___ Short-eared Owl* u u u - ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl o o o o
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk* u u o - ___ Common Poorwill* r o o -
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird* c c o - ___ Calliope Hummingbird* u c r - ___ Broad-tailed Hummingbird* r u o - ___ Rufous Hummingbird* r u o -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* o o o o
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Lewis' Woodpecker r r - - ___ Red-naped Sapsucker u u o - ___ Williamson's Sapsucker r r r - ___ Downy Woodpecker* u u u - ___ Hairy Woodpecker u u u - ___ Three-toed Woodpecker* r o o - ___ Black-backed Woodpecker r r r - ___ Northern Flicker* c c c u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher o o o - ___ Western Wood-Pewee* u u - - ___ Willow Flycatcher* o u - - ___ Hammond's Flycatcher o u o - ___ Dusky Flycatcher o o o - ___ Say's Phoebe - r - - ___ Western Kingbird o o o - ___ Eastern Kingbird o o o -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* c c c c
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* a a u - ___ Violet-green Swallow* o o o - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* o o o - ___ Bank Swallow* u u u - ___ Cliff Swallow* c a u - ___ Barn Swallow* c c o -
JAYS, MAGPIES AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Steller's Jay* o o o - ___ Clark's Nutcracker* o o u o ___ Black-billed Magpie* u u u o ___ American Crow* c c c c ___ Common Raven* u u u u ___ Pinyon Jay - - r -
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee* c c c c ___ Mountain Chickadee* u u u u
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch* o u o o ___ White-breasted Nuthatch o o o -
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper* o o o o
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Rock Wren* o u o - ___ House Wren* c c u - ___ Marsh Wren* c c c -
DIPPERS Sp S F W ___ American Dipper u u u -
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS AND THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet - - r - ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet* u u o - ___ Mountain Bluebird* c c u o ___ Townsend's Solitaire o o o - ___ Veery o o - - ___ Swainson's Thrush* u u u - ___ Hermit Thrush o o o - ___ American Robin* a a a c
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird* o u o - ___ Sage Thrasher* o u o -
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit o - o -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Bohemian Waxwing r - - - ___ Cedar Waxwing o o - -
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike - - o o ___ Loggerhead Shrike o o o -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c u
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Warbling Vireo* c c c -
WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Orange-crowned Warbler* o u - - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c o - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler* c c a - ___ Townsend's Warbler - r r - ___ American Redstart r - - - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler* o u o - ___ Common Yellowthroat* u u o - ___ Wilson's Warbler o o o -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager* u u c -
GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS Sp S F W ___ Rosy-breasted Grosbeak r - r - ___ Black-headed Grosbeak* u u u - ___ Lazuli Bunting* u u o -
TOWHEES AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Green-tailed Towhee* o u o - ___ Chipping Sparrow* o u o - ___ Brewer's Sparrow* c c u - ___ Vesper Sparrow* c c u - ___ Lark Sparrow r - - - ___ Lark Bunting r r - - ___ Savannah Sparrow* c c u - ___ Fox Sparrow* u u o - ___ Song Sparrow* c c u - ___ Lincoln's Sparrow* o o o - ___ White-crowned Sparrow* u u c - ___ Dark-eyed Junco* c c c u ___ Snow Bunting - - o o ___ Bobolink* o u o -
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c u o ___ Western Meadowlark* c c u o ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c c o - ___ Brewer's Blackbird* c c u - ___ Common Grackle o o - - ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c u - ___ Bullock's Oriole* u u o -
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Rosy Finch o o o r ___ Pine Grosbeak o u u - ___ Cassin's Finch* c c u - ___ Common Redpoll o - - r ___ Pine Siskin* u u c - ___ American Goldfinch* u u u - ___ Evening Grosbeak u u u -
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* u u u u

ACCIDENTALS - The Varied Thrush and American Black Duck have been observed here, however this is outside their normal range and they are considered accidental species.


For more information, contact:
                        Refuge Manager
                        Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge
                        74 Grays Lake Road
                        Wayan, Idaho 83285
                        Phone: 208/574-2755
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1995.  Birds of Grays Lake National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Idaho.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1995.  Birds of Grays Lake National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Idaho.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govgraylake.htm 
     (Version 26MAY98).

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