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Bird Checklists of the United States

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Lima, Montana


Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located in the scenic and isolated Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana, approximately 50 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. The refuge has a vast array of habitat, ranging from high elevation prairie at 6,600 feet, to the harsh alpine habitat of the Centennial Mountains at 10,000 feet above sea level. It is this diverse, marsh-prairie-montane environment that gives Red Rock Lakes its unique character.

Because of this habitat diversity, Red Rock Lakes is a unique wildlife area. The rugged mountains bordering the valley catch the heavy snows of winter that replenish the vast Red Rock marsh. The Red Rock Lakes ecosystem is one of the most important trumpeter swan breeding areas in North America, and for this reason the refuge was established in 1935. But Red Rocks is more than trumpeter swans, it is a unique birding area.

A total of 232 species of birds have been recorded at Red Rock Lakes and the Centennial Valley. A small percentage of this total are year-round resident birds. Because of the short summer season, most birds migrate out of this area to winter. Spring migration is very slow, and many migrants pass over Red Rock Lakes without stopping due to the harsh conditions. Fall migration, however, is much more spectacular.


In the following list, those species marked with a "*" denote a confirmed breeder (nests, eggs, or young have been observed).
The relative abundance of each species at each season is coded as follows:

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

a - abundant: numerous and widespread, certain to be seen
c - common: likely to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: few and/or in restricted habitats, not likely to be seen


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Common Loon o o o -
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Clark's Grebe* u u u - ___ Western Grebe* c c c - ___ Red-necked Grebe* o o - - ___ Horned Grebe* u o - - ___ Eared Grebe* c c c - ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c c c -
PELICANS, CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican* c c c - ___ Double-crested Cormorant* c c c -
SWANS, GEESE, DUCKS Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan (Whistling Swan) o r u - ___ Trumpeter Swan* c c c c ___ Canada Goose* c c c u ___ Snow Goose u - u - ___ Mallard* c c c c ___ Northern Pintail* c c c o ___ Gadwall* c c c o ___ American Wigeon* c c c u ___ Northern Shoveler* o c c - ___ Blue-winged Teal* c c u - ___ Cinnamon Teal* c c c - ___ Green-winged Teal* c c u o ___ Wood Duck o o - - ___ Redhead* c c c - ___ Canvasback* c c c - ___ Ring-necked Duck* u u u - ___ Lesser Scaup* c c c - ___ Common Goldeneye* c o o c ___ Barrow's Goldeneye* c o o c ___ Bufflehead* c u u o ___ Ruddy Duck* c c c - ___ Hooded Merganser* o - o o ___ Red-breasted Merganser* u o u - ___ Common Merganser* c u u o
HAWKS, EAGLES, FALCONS Sp S F W ___ Northern Goshawk* u u u o ___ Cooper's Hawk* o u o - ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk o u o o ___ Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk)* u c c o ___ Rough-legged Hawk u - c o ___ Ferruginous Hawk* u u - - ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c - ___ Swainson's Hawk* c c c - ___ Golden Eagle* u u u u ___ Bald Eagle* c c c c ___ Osprey* o o o - ___ Prairie Falcon* c c c - ___ Peregrine Falcon* u u u - ___ Merlin* o o o - ___ American Kestrel* c c c -
GROUSE, PARTRIDGE Sp S F W ___ Blue Grouse* c c c c ___ Ruffed Grouse* u u u u ___ Sage Grouse* o o o o ___ Gray Partridge o o o o
HERONS, BITTERNS, IBISES Sp S F W ___ Snowy Egret - o o - ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c o ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* c c u - ___ American Bittern* u u u - ___ White-faced Ibis* o u o -
CRANES Sp S F W ___ Sandhill Crane* c c c -
RAILS, COOTS Sp S F W ___ Virginia Rail* o o o - ___ Sora* u u u - ___ American Coot* a a a -
SHOREBIRDS, GULLS, TERNS Sp S F W ___ American Avocet* c c c - ___ Black-necked Stilt o o - - ___ Semipalmated Plover - o - - ___ Killdeer* c c c - ___ Marbled Godwit* u u u - ___ Long-billed Curlew* c c u - ___ Greater Yellowlegs u u u - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u u u - ___ Solitary Sandpiper o c o - ___ Upland Sandpiper o o o - ___ Willet* c c c - ___ Spotted Sandpiper* u c u - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher u u u - ___ Wilson's Phalarope* c c c - ___ Common Snipe* a a a - ___ Sanderling - - o - ___ White-rumped Sandpiper - o - - ___ Baird's Sandpiper - o - - ___ Least Sandpiper - o o - ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper o o o - ___ Western Sandpiper o o o - ___ California Gull* a a a - ___ Ring-billed Gull* u u u - ___ Franklin's Gull* c a - - ___ Forster's Tern* c c - - ___ Black Tern o o - -
DOVES Sp S F W ___ Mourning Dove* u u c -
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Long-eared Owl* o o o - ___ Short-eared Owl* u c u - ___ Great Gray Owl* u u u u ___ Burrowing Owl o o o - ___ Northern Saw-whet Owl* o o o o ___ Northern Pygmy-Owl o o o o
GOATSUCKERS, SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk o o o - ___ White-throated Swift o o o - ___ Broad-tailed Hummingbird* - u u - ___ Calliope Hummingbird* - u u - ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird - o o - ___ Rufous Hummingbird* - u u -
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* c c c u
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Northern Flicker (Common Flicker)* c c c - ___ Lewis' Woodpecker o o o - ___ Red-naped Sapsucker* c c c - ___ Williamson's Sapsucker* o o o - ___ Hairy Woodpecker* c c c u ___ Downy Woodpecker* c c c u ___ Black-backed Woodpecker* o o o o ___ Three-toed Woodpecker o o o o
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Eastern Kingbird* u u u - ___ Western Kingbird u u u - ___ Say's Phoebe o o - - ___ Willow Flycatcher* u c - - ___ Dusky Flycatcher u c - - ___ Hammond's Flycatcher* u u - - ___ Western Flycatcher* u u - - ___ Western Wood-Pewee* c c - - ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher* u u - -
LARKS, SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Horned Lark* c c c u ___ Barn Swallow* c c c - ___ Cliff Swallow* c c c - ___ Violet-green Swallow* u o - - ___ Tree Swallow* c c c - ___ Bank Swallow* c c - - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* u u - -
JAYS, MAGPIES, CROWS Sp S F W ___ Steller's Jay* o o o o ___ Pinon Jay - - o - ___ Gray Jay* u u u u ___ Black-billed Magpie* a a a a ___ Clark's Nutcracker* c c c c ___ Common Raven* c c c c ___ American Crow* c c u -
CHICKADEES Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee* c c c c ___ Mountain Chickadee* c c c c
DIPPERS, NUTHATCHES, CREEPER Sp S F W ___ American Dipper* c c c u ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* u u u u ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch* c c u u ___ Pygmy Nuthatch* o o o o ___ Brown Creeper* o u u o
WRENS Sp S F W ___ House Wren* c c c - ___ Rock Wren* - u u - ___ Canyon Wren o o - - ___ Marsh Wren* c c c -
THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird o o - - ___ Sage Thrasher* u u u -
THRUSHES, BLUEBIRDS, KINGLETS Sp S F W ___ American Robin* c c c - ___ Townsend's Solitaire* c c c u ___ Hermit Thrush* - c u - ___ Swainson's Thrush* - u u - ___ Veery* - u u - ___ Western Bluebird o o o - ___ Mountain Bluebird* a a a - ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet u u u - ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet* c c c -
PIPITS, WAXWINGS, SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ American Pipit (Water Pipit) u u u - ___ Bohemian Waxwing o - - o ___ Cedar Waxwing* - u u - ___ Northern Shrike u - u u ___ Loggerhead Shrike* u u u -
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c -
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ Solitary Vireo u u o - ___ Warbling Vireo* c c u -
WOOD WARBLER, WEAVER FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Tennessee Warbler o o - - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler* o o - - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c u - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler* c c u - ___ Townsend's Warbler - o - - ___ Northern Waterthrush o o - - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c - - ___ MacGillivray's Warbler* c c - - ___ Wilson's Warbler* c c - - ___ American Redstart* u u - - ___ House Sparrow* o o - -
MEADOWLARKS, BLACKBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Bobolink* - o - - ___ Western Meadowlark* c c c - ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird* c c u - ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c c - ___ Brewer's Blackbird* c c - - ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c - -
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Western Tanager* c c - -
GROSBEAKS, FINCHES, SPARROWS, BUNTINGS Sp S F W ___ Black-headed Grosbeak o u - - ___ Evening Grosbeak o o - - ___ Lazuli Bunting* - u - - ___ Cassin's Finch* c c c u ___ Pine Grosbeak* c c c c ___ Rosy Finch* c o o c ___ Common Redpoll c - - c ___ Pine Siskin* c c c o ___ American Goldfinch* - u u - ___ Red Crossbill* u u u u ___ Green-tailed Towhee* o o o - ___ Savannah Sparrow* a a a - ___ Lark Bunting - o - - ___ Vesper Sparrow* c c c - ___ Lark Sparrow* o o o - ___ Dark-eyed Junco* c c c u ___ American Tree Sparrow o - - o ___ Chipping Sparrow* c c c - ___ Brewer's Sparrow* c c - - ___ White-crowned Sparrow* c c - - ___ Fox Sparrow o o - - ___ Lincoln's Sparrow* c c - - ___ Song Sparrow* c c c - ___ Lapland Longspur o - o u ___ Snow Bunting u - u c
The following birds have been observed in the Centennial Valley and are considered rare or accidental. These birds are either observed very infrequently in highly restrictive habitat types or are out of their normal range.

Artic Loon                              Common Tern
Clark's Grebe                           Caspian Tern
Great Egret                             Band-tailed Pigeon
Mute Swan (feral)                       Rock Dove
Black Swan (feral)                      Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ross' Goose                             Black-billed Cuckoo
Greater White-fronted Goose             Western Screech Owl
Wood Duck                               Pileated Woodpecker
Greater Scaup                           Red-headed Woodpecker
Harlequin Duck                          Least Flycatcher
Old Squaw                               Blue Jay
White-winged Scoter                     Winter Wren
Surf Scoter                             Nothern Mockingbird
Turkey Vulture                          Red-eyed Vireo
Gyrfalcon                               Yellow-breasted Chat
Sharp-tailed Grouse                     Common Grackle
Ring-necked Pheasant                    Northern Oriole
Whooping Crane                          Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Yellow Rail                             House Finch
Mountain Plover                         White-winged Crossbill
Black-bellied Plover                    Rufous-sided Towhee
Snowy Plover                            Grasshopper Sparrow
Red-necked Phalarope                    Sage Sparrow
American Woodcock                       Clay-colored Sparrow
Pectoral Sandpiper                      Harris' Sparrow
Dunlin                                  White-throated Sparrow
Parasitic Jaeger                        McCown's Longspur
Herring Gull                            Chestnut-collared Longspur
Bonaparte's Gull
For additional information contact:
                 Refuge Manager
                 Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
                 Monida Star Route
                 Box 15
                 Lima, Montana 59739      
                 Telephone: 406/276-3536

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is one of a system of refuges administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and dedicated to the preservation of wildlife. The financial base for this system was firmly established in 1934 through the passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act. This Act requires waterfowl hunters to purchase annually a migratory bird or "duck stamp." Funds collected from duck stamp sales have been used to purchase numerous refuges that provide habitats necessary to sustain a variety of wildlife for both hunters and nonhunters to enjoy.
This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1994.  Birds of the Red Rock Lakes National 
     Wildlife Refuge and the Centennial Valley, Montana.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1994.  Birds of the Red Rock Lakes National 
     Wildlife Refuge and the Centennial Valley, Montana.  U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife 
     Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govredrock.htm  
     (Version 22MAY98).

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