For the Birds: A Guide to Winter Bird Watching in Hagerman
Not all birds fly south in the winter — in fact, many of them flock to the area around Hagerman (pun intended). The Hagerman Wildlife Management Area and the Billingsley Creek Wildlife Management Area, both located just a few miles from the town of Hagerman, are home to tens of thousands of ducks, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and shorebirds and other waterfowl.
The birds are attracted by the same creature comforts that have been attracting people to the area for hundreds of years: Warm, soothing water and temperatures that tend to be warmer than surrounding areas. The area’s water is naturally geothermally heated and remains at around 58 degrees all year long, making Hagerman a sort of Florida in the Intermountain West for birds.
These two wildlife management areas offer plenty of places for winter birding — all you need is your favorite bird guidebook, a set of binoculars, and your camera. The Billingsley Creek WMA is northeast of Hagerman and is a popular spot for late-winter duck hunters. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, check out this area for ducks, Canada geese, mallards, northern pintail, gadwall, American widgeon, green-wing teal, cinnamon teal, ring-necked pheasants, and California quail.
The Hagerman WMA is just south of Hagerman and is a nesting ground for mallards, gadwalls, redheads, ruddy ducks, and Canada geese. You’re also likely to see tundra and trumpeter swans, northern pintails, American wigeon, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal, lesser scaup, ring-necked ducks, and ospreys, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and rough-legged hawks. For a great view, check out the Riley Creek Pond viewing blind or walk the trails along the Oster Lakes. You’re less likely to run into hunters in this area.
The fun for bird lovers continues in February, when the Hagerman Birding Festival attracts hundreds of enthusiasts. If you plan on attending, make a weekend of it with our winter guide to Hagerman.