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Bird Checklists of the United States

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

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Bonners Ferry, Idaho

The Refuge

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is located in Idaho's Panhandle only 20 miles from Canada. The refuge was established in 1965, primarily to create a resting area for waterfowl during migration.

Wildland Diversity Attracts Many Animals

The small 2,774 acre refuge encompasses a wide variety of habitat. Meadows, grain fields and wetlands are interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the Kootenai River. Wetlands include open-water ponds, cattail marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks. A small portion of the refuge ascends the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains which consists of dense coniferous forest.

Wildlife species in this leaflet are grouped into five categories: birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. A total of 300 species of vertebrate animals normally occur here indicating the richness of this environment.

Tips to Help You Enjoy Wildlife

Early morning and late evening are the best times for observing wildlife. Field guides, available at most book stores, describe an animal's habitat to help you learn where to look for particular species. This leaflet shows the seasons a bird is likely to be present. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will help you observe wildlife from a distance without disturbing it. Wildlife photography may open a new area of enjoyment for you.

Good Luck! Whether you are a seasoned observer or just beginning, we wish you memorable experiences from this visit.

Calendar of Natural Events

Spring: by mid-March most ponds are ice free, mallard and pintail migration is peaking, and Canada geese begin nesting. In late March wake robin (Trillium) appears as snow recedes and coincides with mountain bluebird migration. Early April - osprey arrive as bald eagles depart Mid-April- skunk cabbage begins blooming and sounds of spring are in the air with ruffed grouse "drumming" and snipe "winnowing." Late April - geese are hatching and hummingbirds have arrived. May - profuse blooming chokecherry, elderberry, thimbleberry, mountain ash and Oregon grape. Ducks begin hatching and a moose may be seen on rare occasions.

Summer: June - duck broods are prominent, striped skunks bring their kittens out at night. July - goslings begin flying; Syringa, the Idaho State Flower, and pearly everlasting are blooming. Fireweed, which grows on disturbed soils, is a favorite of the hummingbirds. August - huckleberries ripen, providing tasty morsels for both bears and humans. The month also begins the migration of Canada geese and shorebirds.

Fall: September - osprey and shorebirds depart early, while late in the month 3,000-4,000 geese peak, as do early migrating pintail from Alaska. October - signals a change as kestrels leave for warmer climates and bald eagles and rough-legged hawks arrive for the winter. At mid-month tundra swans stop briefly to restore their energy. November - ducks comprised mostly of mallards peak at 25,000-35,000 early in the month. Ponds freeze over by late November and bald eagles concentrate around dense flocks of mallards for food.

Winter: in December winter waterfowl move to the ice-free Kootenai River but still feed in refuge grain fields. All wildlife settle in to survive the next two stressful months. Late in February, tundra swans arrive while goldeneyes and mergansers begin courtship displays.


The following list contains 220 species you can expect to see in season on the refuge. In addition, another ten accidentals are of extremely rare occurence.

Season Symbols

Sp - March through May
S - June through August
F - September through November
W - December through February

Abundance Symbols

a - abundant: a species which 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 during a season
r - rare: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years

* - birds known to nest locally
# - endangered species

LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon o - u -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c u - ___ Horned Grebe u r u - ___ Red-necked Grebe* c c u - ___ Eared Grebe u o u - ___ Western Grebe u r u -
BITTERNS, HERONS, AND EGRETS Sp S F W ___ American Bittern* u u o - ___ Great Blue Heron c c c u
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan c - u - ___ Greater White-Fronted Goose u - u - ___ Snow Goose o - o - ___ Ross' Goose r - r - ___ Canada Goose* a c a u ___ Wood Duck* c c u - ___ Green-winged Teal* c u a o ___ Mallard* a a a a ___ Northern Pintail* a u a o ___ Blue-winged Teal* c c o - ___ Cinnamon Teal* c c o - ___ Northern Shoveler* c o u - ___ Gadwall* c o u - ___ Eurasian Wigeon o - - - ___ American Wigeon* a c a o ___ Canvasback u - u - ___ Redhead* c c u - ___ Ring-necked Duck* c c c - ___ Greater Scaup o - o - ___ Lesser Scaup u u u - ___ Surf Scoter - o - - ___ White-winged Scoter - - o - ___ Common Goldeneye* c c c u ___ Barrow's Goldeneye u - o - ___ Bufflehead c o c - ___ Hooded Merganser* u o u - ___ Common Merganser u - u - ___ Red-breasted Merganser r - - - ___ Ruddy Duck* c c u -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Turkey Vulture u u - -
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS Sp S F W ___ Osprey* u c o - ___ Bald Eagle*# c u c c ___ Northern Harrier* c c u u ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk o o u o ___ Cooper's Hawk* u o u o ___ Northern Goshawk r r r o ___ Swainson's Hawk r - r - ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c u o ___ Rough-legged Hawk c - c c ___ Golden Eagle u o o -
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel* c c c o ___ Merlin r r r - ___ Peregrine Falcon# r r r r ___ Prairie Falcon r r r -
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Ring-necked Pheasant* r r r r ___ Spruce Grouse - r - - ___ Blue Grouse o o o - ___ Ruffed Grouse* c c c c ___ Wild Turkey o o o o ___ California Quail r r r r
RAILS Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* o o - - ___ Sora* u u o - ___ American Coot* a a a o
CRANES Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane r - o -
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover - - o - ___ Semipalmated Plover r - o - ___ Killdeer* c c c -
STILTS AND AVOCET Sp S F W ___ American Avocet r r - -
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs u o u - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u o c - ___ Solitary Sandpiper - o u - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* u c u - ___ Long-billed Curlew r - - - ___ Marbled Godwit - - r - ___ Sanderling - o r - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper - o u - ___ Western Sandpiper - o u - ___ Least Sandpiper u o u - ___ Baird's Sandpiper - o u - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper - o u - ___ Stilt Sandpiper - - r - ___ Short-billed Dowitcher - r r - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher u u c -
SNIPE Sp S F W ___ Common Snipe* c c c -
PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Phalarope u r o - ___ Red-necked Phalarope o - u -
GULLS AND TERNS Sp S F W ___ Franklin's Gull o r o - ___ Bonaparte's Gull o - o - ___ Ring-billed Gull u u u - ___ California Gull u u u - ___ Herring Gull r - r - ___ Caspian Tern r r r - ___ Common Tern - - o - ___ Forster's Tern o - o - ___ Black Tern* u c - -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove r r r r ___ Mourning Dove* u c u o
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Western Screech-Owl r r r r ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Snowy Owl - - - r ___ Northern Hawk-Owl - - r r ___ Northern Pygmy-Owl* o o o o ___ Barred Owl - - r r ___ Long-eared Owl r - - r ___ Short-eared Owl r - r r ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl* o o o o
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk - c o -
SWIFTS Sp S F W ___ Black Swift u u - - ___ Vaux's Swift* c c u -
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird* u u - - ___ Calliope Hummingbird* c c - - ___ Rufous Hummingbird* a a - -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* u u u o
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Lewis' Woodpecker r r o - ___ Red-naped Sapsucker* u c o - ___ Downy Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Hairy Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Three-toed Woodpecker r r r r ___ Black-backed Woodpecker* o o o o ___ Northern Flicker* a a c u ___ Pileated Woodpecker* u u u u
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher o r r - ___ Western Wood-Pewee* c c r - ___ Willow Flycatcher* o c - - ___ Hammond's Flycatcher* u o u - ___ Dusky Flycatcher* c u - - ___ Cordilleran Flycatcher r o - - ___ Say's Phoebe r r - - ___ Western Kingbird - o o - ___ Eastern Kingbird* c a o -
LARKS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark r r r -
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Tree Swallow* c a o - ___ Violet-green Swallow* c c o - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* c c r - ___ Bank Swallow* u c r - ___ Cliff Swallow* c a o - ___ Barn Swallow* c a u -
JAYS, MAGPIES AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Gray Jay r - o o ___ Steller's Jay* c u c c ___ Clark's Nutcracker c r u c ___ Black-billed Magpie o o o o ___ American Crow* a c c a ___ Common Raven* c c c a
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee* a a a a ___ Mountain Chickadee o r o o ___ Boreal Chickadee - - r r ___ Chestnut-backed Chickadee* u u r r
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch* c o u u
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper* o o o o
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Rock Wren - r - - ___ House Wren - r - - ___ Winter Wren* u o o - ___ Marsh Wren* c c o -
DIPPERS Sp S F W ___ American Dipper* u c c o
KINGLETS, BLUEBIRDS AND THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet* c u c o ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet u r u o ___ Western Bluebird r - - - ___ Mountain Bluebird* u o o - ___ Townsend's Solitaire u u o - ___ Veery* u c - - ___ Swainson's Thrush* u c u - ___ Hermit Thrush o r o - ___ American Robin* c a a u ___ Varied Thrush* c r u r
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird* o c o -
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit u r u -
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Bohemian Waxwing u - u o ___ Cedar Waxwing* o c u -
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Northern Shrike u - o u ___ Loggerhead Shrike - r r -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* a a a u
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo* o u r - ___ Warbling Vireo* o u r - ___ Red-eyed Vireo* u c o -
WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Orange-crowned Warbler o r u - ___ Nashville Warbler c u o - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c u - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler* c u c - ___ Townsend's Warbler o o r - ___ American Redstart* u c o - ___ Northern Waterthrush o o r - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler* u c u - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c a c - ___ Wilson's Warbler - o o - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat - r - -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager* o u o -
GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS Sp S F W ___ Black-headed Grosbeak* o c r - ___ Lazuli Bunting* o u o -
TOWHEES AND SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* c u o - ___ American Tree Sparrow u - u u ___ Chipping Sparrow* c c u - ___ Brewer's Sparrow r - r - ___ Vesper Sparrow o r o - ___ Savannah Sparrow* a c a - ___ Grasshopper Sparrow r r r - ___ Fox Sparrow r - r - ___ Song Sparrow* a a c u ___ Lincoln's Sparrow o r u - ___ Golden-crowned Sparrow r - r - ___ White-crowned Sparrow u r c - ___ Dark-eyed Junco* c u c o ___ Lapland Longspur - - - r ___ Snow Bunting - - - u ___ Bobolink r o - -
BLACKBIRDS, MEADOWLARKS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a a a u ___ Western Meadowlark* c c u r ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c a u r ___ Brewer's Blackbird r o r - ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* o u o - ___ Bullock's Oriole* u o - -
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Rosy Finch o - - u ___ Pine Grosbeak r - r o ___ Purple Finch o r o r ___ Cassin's Finch u u o o ___ House Finch r r r r ___ Red Crossbill c u u u ___ White-winged Crossbill r - - r ___ Common Redpoll - - o o ___ Pine Siskin a u c u ___ American Goldfinch* u c u - ___ Evening Grosbeak u r u u
WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow o o o o
ACCIDENTALS - These additional ten species, out of their normal range, have been recorded locally by several sightings.

American White Pelican                       Oldsquaw
Double-crested Cormorant                     White-faced Ibis  
Great Egret                                  Black-necked Stilt
Cattle Egret                                 Upland Sandpiper  
Harlequin Duck                               Band-tailed Pigeon

Please report any unusual sightings to the refuge manager. For further information contact:
                       Refuge Manager
                       Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
                       HCR 60, Box 283
                       Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805
                       Telephone 208/267-3888
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Wildlife of Kootenai National 
     Wildlife Refuge, Idaho. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Wildlife of Kootenai National 
     Wildlife Refuge, Idaho. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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