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Montana

Birding in Glacier National Park

Program No. 22411RJ
Join expert birders for an off-the-beaten path adventure to search for and learn about warblers, loons, woodpeckers and many more bird species that thrive in Glacier National Park.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,799

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DATES & PRICES

1 Double Bed 2 Double Beds
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations with one double bed.

Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations with two double beds.

Jun 19 - Jun 24, 2023
1 Double Bed 2,799
2 Double Beds 2,799
Jun 26 - Jul 1, 2023
1 Double Bed 2,799
2 Double Beds 2,799

DATES & PRICES

1 Double Bed
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations with one double bed.

Jun 19 - Jun 24, 2023
SOLD OUT
1 Double Bed 3,529

At a Glance

On this off-the-beaten path birding adventure, both novice and skilled birders will hone their birding skills while hiking in Glacier National Park, one of the nation’s most intact and undisturbed ecosystems. Explore eastern, western and alpine habitats with expert local birders who will use both sound and sight to seek out a diverse array of avian species. Enriching stories and lore will help you gain a greater appreciation for the species you encounter. This program will emphasize birding by ear due to thick vegetation, and many birds may be heard and not seen.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
For hearty explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge while spending most of their days on the go. Hike up to five miles daily with elevation gains of 500-700 feet on natural surface dirt trails in mountainous, uneven and rocky terrain. Elevations from 3,200 feet to 7,200 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Benefit from the instruction of some of the top birding experts in the region and develop your birding by ear skills.
  • Search for a diversity of species that call Glacier National Park home, such as Harlequin Duck, Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker, and Water Ouzel.
  • Explore an array of habitats on the west and east side of the continental divide, and learn about the geology, botany, history and wildlife of Glacier National Park.

General Notes

This program will emphasize birding by ear due to thick vegetation, and many birds may be heard and not seen. All Road Scholar birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1 in the field. We adhere to the American Birding Association’s Code of Ethics. Learn more at http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Birds In Place: a Habitat-based Field Guide to Birds of the Northern Rockies
by Radd Icenoggle
Radd Icenoggle is a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. He possesses a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During his studies, he wrote a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on communities in southwestern Montana and, more specifically, the ways that Clark's Nutcrackers use their habitat. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a botanist, bird biologist, and hydrology technician. Through his writing and photography, he endeavors to bring nature to his audience. This habitat-based guide is written for both novice and long-time birders to use in the Northern Rockies. Color photographs illustrate the species and graphics supply information on seasons, migration, residents. Text includes physical description, mating, nesting and fledging behaviors, and especially in what type of domain to seek each species.
Exploring Glacier National Park
by David Rockwell
Glacier National Park in northern Montana offers visitors the chance to be immersed in a pristine landscape, and an opportunity to experience the Rocky Mountain West in all its unspoiled glory. Author and naturalist David Rockwell explains the evolution of the park's geology from the erosion of mountains more than a billion years ago to the glaciers that gave Glacier National Park its distinctive landscape. He explores the natural history of the plants and animals of the park's six distinct regions.
The Birder's Guide to Montana
by Terry McEneaney
Your comprehensive guide on where to find Montana's birds. Includes detailed descriptions of over forty-five major birding areas, maps, black and white photos, illustrations and much more.
Wildflowers of Glacier National Park
by Shannon Fitzpatrick Kimball and Peter Lesica
Wildflowers of Glacier National park and Surrounding Areas is a user-friendly guide featuring over 300 of Glacier National Park's most common plant species. From wildflowers to trees to grasses and sedges, this book features beautiful photographs, detailed descriptions, notes on habitat and fun facts for each plant. It's a perfect plant reference for anyone with an interest in the natural history and splendor of Glacier National Park. The index lists plants both by their common and scientific names.
The Sibley Guide to Birds
by David Allen Sibley
David Allen Sibley, America's most gifted contemporary painter of birds, is the author and illustrator of this comprehensive guide. His beautifully detailed illustrations—more than 6,600 in all—and descriptions of 810 species and 350 regional populations will enrich every birder's experience. The Sibley Guide's innovative design makes it entirely user friendly. The illustrations are arranged to facilitate comparison, yet still capture the unique character of each species. The Sibley Guide to Birds provides a wealth of new information: —Captioned illustrations show many previously unpublished field marks and revisions of known marks —Nearly every species is shown in flight —Measurements include length, wingspan, and weight for every species —Subspecies and geographic variants are covered thoroughly —Complete voice descriptions are included for every species —Maps show the complete distribution of every species: summer and winter ranges, migration routes, and rare occurrences Both novice and experienced birders will appreciate these and other innovative features: —An introductory page for each family or group of related families makes comparisons simple —Clear and concise labels with pointers identify field marks directly —Birds are illustrated in similar poses to make comparisons between species quick and easy —Illustrations emphasize the way birds look in the field With The Sibley Guide to Birds, the National Audubon Society makes the art and expertise of David Sibley available to the world in a comprehensive, handsome, easy-to-use volume that will be the indispensable identification guide every birder must own.
eBird Pro 7, iBird Pro
by North America
Handheld Field Guide to birds of North America for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle and Windows 8 with powerful decision engine. These programs include bird songs, checklists and GPS locators. If you have a smartphone or pad, these are highly recommended.
Montana Bird Distribution
by P. D. Skaar
The long awaited, newly revised, 7th edition of P.D. Skaar’s Montana Bird Distribution is available. This book is an excellent companion to field guides because it indicates where birds are found in Montana. It is a book of maps: for all of Montana's 427 bird species observed in the state, maps show breeding and wintering areas. Eighteen birds are new to the new edition: Cackling Goose (a split from Canada Goose), Tufted Duck, Manx Shearwater, Glossy Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Crested Caracara, Ross’s Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-billed Murrelet (a split from Ancient Murrelet), Inca Dove, Carolina Wren, Pacific Wren (a split from Winter Wren), Curve-billed Thrasher, Siberian Accentor, Blue-winged Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Eastern Meadowlark.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lake McDonald in West Glacier
D
Motel Lake McDonald

Activity note: Motel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. Walking 300 yards to dining and meeting room facilities.

Afternoon: When you check in and get your room assignment, collect your Road Scholar welcome packet with the up-to-date schedule and other important information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. Program Registration: 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Lake McDonald Lodge. Here we will meet the Group Leader, complete any necessary paperwork, and make meal selections. Orientation: 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will ride in 15-passenger vans to trailheads for field trips. Trail selections will be made by Group Leaders each day based on weather, trail conditions, and group ability. Each day, hikers will have a choice between hikes of different levels of difficulty. We will break into hiking groups based on preference and ability. Groups will be led by local experts who will share their knowledge along the trail. Bring a reusable, one-liter, leak-proof water bottle. Restrooms available at most trailheads. “America the Beautiful” passes cover entrance fees at national parks for up to 4 adults. If you have one of these national park passes, please bring it with you to the program and on field trips. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
McDonald Creek & Inside North Fork Road, Presentation
Lake McDonald in West Glacier
B,L,D
Motel Lake McDonald

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 40 miles, approximately 1.5 hours total. Hiking up to 5 miles; maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Starting elevation approximately 3,200 feet. Bring reusable, one-liter, leak-proof water bottle. Restroom facilities available at some trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: We will ride in 15 passenger vans to Apgar Village. From there, local birding experts will lead a 2-mile hike along lower McDonald Creek through an even-aged stand of lodgepole pine created by the Half Moon Fire in 1929. Along the creek, the bird encounter possibilities may include Yellow, Yellow-rumped, MacGillivray’s and Orange-crowned warblers, American redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Yellowthroats, Black-headed grosbeaks, Swainson’s thrush, Willow flycatcher, Warbling and Cassin’s vireos, all five of our native swallows, Ruffed grouse, Spotted sandpipers, and various ducks and geese. Through the lodgepole forest on the way back we may see Dusky, Hammond’s and Least flycatchers that frequent the area, as well as Western tanagers, Townsend’s warblers and Red-eyed vireos. After our hike, we will travel by van for a drive-and-stop day exploring the west side of Glacier. We'll stretch our legs at McGee Meadows where we will watch and listen for open wetland species such as Red-winged blackbirds, Song and Lincoln’s sparrows, Townsend’s solitaires, and Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets. From there, we’ll stop and get out of the van for listening stops at several creeks and small swamps, an older deciduous forest, and a 15-year-old burn area We'll be birding by ear and by sight and due to thick vegetation, some birds may be heard but not seen. Please note the species listed are possibilities but not guaranteed.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: We'll travel further along the western edge of Glacier, watching the snags from the 1988 Red Bench Burn for Northern hawk owls. We will stretch our legs with an approximately 2 mile round trip hike on a level trail where many kinds of non-bird wildlife show up unexpectedly. We’ll be on the look out for Western tanagers, sapsuckers and flickers, Lincoln’s sparrows, Gray jays, Mountain, and Western bluebirds. Next, we’ll take a short a walk on the closed portion of the road to where we might hear or see many kinds of warblers, sparrows, and raptors. Then we will return to Motel Lake McDonald. Later this afternoon, sit back and enjoy “Bird Behavior in Glacier,” a content- and comedy-rich theatrical presentation by that very knowledgeable, very bird-brained ornithology expert, Professor Avian Guano, Bir.D.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
McDonald Creek Trail, Trail of Cedars, Southern border GNP
St. Mary, Montana
B,L,D
St. Mary Village

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 120 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Hiking up to 5 miles; maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Maximum hiking elevation 6,000 feet.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: We’ll travel by van along a portion of the Going to the Sun Road (road and weather conditions permitting) and explore habitat unique to the west side of the continental divide. We'll stop along thundering Upper McDonald Creek where we'll search for Harlequin ducks and nesting Black swifts behind a waterfall! Next, we'll begin our journey to the east side Glacier National Park via Highway 2 which follows the southern border of the park. Along the way our expert instructors will provide lessons in geology and history. Please remember the species listed are possibilities in this habitat but not guaranteed sightings. Birding by ear will be emphasized due to thick vegetation and many birds may be heard but not seen.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll cross the continental divide at Marias Pass, a magnificent place view Lewis Overthrust Fault, a geological feature that shaped the landscape millions of years ago. We'll take a short hike to listen and look for birds at Lubec Lake. We'll make additional birding stops along our route and explore the changing habitats as we travel from west to east across the continental divide. Later in the afternoon, we'll check-in at the St. Mary Motel. The motel is located just outside the east entrance of Glacier National Park where the mountains meet the prairie.

Dinner: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Evening: This evening, enjoy a lively and informative presentation by one of our expert birding instructors.

DAY
4
East side of Glacier National Park, Presentation
St. Mary, Montana
B,L
St. Mary Village

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 22 miles, approximately 1 hour each way. Hiking up to 5 miles; maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Trailhead elevation is approximately 4,800 feet, hiking to maximum elevation 5,300 feet. Bring reusable, one liter, leak-proof water bottle. Restroom facilities available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in walking distance of the motel.

Morning: We'll spend the day exploring the dramatic landscape of the east side of Glacier National Park. Our expert instructors will lead us on hikes where we will listen and look for bird species such as Loons, Gray and Steller’s jays, Mountain and Black-capped chickadees, Lazuli buntings, eagles, and Osprey. We'll watch the hillsides for bears and mountain goats and search the lake shores for moose. We'll be birding by ear and by sight and many birds may be heard but not seen because of thick vegetation. The species included here are possibilities but not guaranteed encounters.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: After our hikes, we will depart back to St. Mary. We’ll keep our eyes open for White pelicans in Lower St. Mary Lake on our drive back. After arriving back at St. Mary, we'll enjoy an educational presentation by one of our local birding experts.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Beaver Pond Trail, Reynold's Burn, Arrive in Kalispell
Kalispell
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Kalispell

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 160 miles, approximately 3 hours total. Hiking up to 5 miles; maintained dirt trails that may be rocky and uneven. Maximum elevation 7,200 feet dependent on snow cover. Bring reusable, one liter, leak-proof water bottle. Restroom facilities available at most trail heads.

Breakfast: There will be an early morning outing prior to breakfast. A light snack provided to tide everyone over until breakfast. Our early hike will be near the motel on Beaver Pond Trail (2.6 miles). (The length of this early hike means a somewhat later full breakfast today.) This trail winds through meadows and forest, eventually moving into the 2007 Red Eagle Burn and terminating at a beautiful beaver pond. Possible bird encounters include Black-backed and Three-toed woodpeckers, Prairie and Peregrine falcon, Northern hawk owl, Northern harrier, two kinds of bluebirds, Veery, Ovenbird, and a huge variety of warblers, sparrows and other perching birds. We'll be birding by ear and birding by sight and many birds may be heard but not seen. Please note the species listed are possibilities but not guaranteed encounters. After the hike we will return to the Snow Goose Grill where we will use vouchers to order a plated breakfast. Non-alcoholic beverage included.

Morning: Following breakfast, we'll check out of St. Mary Motel. We will travel by van on some of the eastern portion of the Going to the Sun Road. We'll stop and take a few short walks to bird along this spectacular corridor. St. Mary Lake and steep mountains in every direction will occasionally distract us from our appointed tasks!

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: As we commence our journey back to Kalispell, via Highway 2 along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, we'll have one last chance to marvel at the incredible landscape. Along the way, we'll stop to get out of the van for more birding and short walks. Upon arrival in Kalispell we will check into the hotel.

Dinner: We'll celebrate a week full of adventure and learning with a casual farewell dinner together at the hotel.

Evening: Near the end of dinner we will share some closing thoughts, review our synonym game answers perhaps awarding a prize or two for the winners, and say goodbye to our Group Leader and Field Instructor. At your leisure continue to celebrate a week of birding with fellow Road Scholars.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Kalispell
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 12:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.