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Look To The Skies | The Birds of Yellowstone

a bird flying in the sky

Yellowstone National Park is known for its amazing wildlife viewing opportunities year-round. Yet when most people think about the wildlife in Yellowstone, they picture bison, bears, elk, moose, or even wolves. At Scenic Safaris, we like to remind folks that not all of the amazing wildlife at Yellowstone can be found on the ground. Over 300 species of birds have been observed within park boundaries since it was established in March 1872. Here are a few to watch for on your next visit:


Thanks to a diet made up almost exclusively of fish, ospreys are most commonly seen along rivers, lakes, and waterways. Ospreys are usually about two feet tall with a wingspan that can reach nearly six feet. They have a white belly and head, with a dark mask around the eyes and wings that are dark brown on top and white with characteristic brown markings underneath. These fantastic birds of prey can often be seen along the Yellowstone River near the Grand Canyon area.

Mountain Bluebird

The males of this medium-sized bird species are easily recognizable by their vibrant turquoise-blue coloring. They are omnivores, but eat mainly insects and berries. Their tendency to nest in abandoned woodpecker holes means that they usually are willing to set up in nest boxes as well. In Yellowstone, the bright mountain bluebird is often spotted in aspen groves, meadows, and grasslands below the tree line.

Black-Billed Magpie

Despite having a distinctive, black and white contrasting appearance, there is a good chance you will hear a black-billed magpie before you see it. The easily recognized “mag mag mag” call that gives the magpie its name, has a nasal filled and inquisitive sound to it. While they can grow to be up to two feet in length, more than half of that length is from their long tails. An opportunistic omnivore, the magpie will eat carrion or rodents as well as insects, seeds, and berries. Magpies are common in the Yellowstone. Due to their flexible diet, they are just as likely to be found in the trees along the Yellowstone River as they are in the sagebrush meadows.

When you visit Yellowstone National Park, don’t forget to look up. The abundant birds of Yellowstone are as varied and beautiful as the park’s more well-known wildlife. Ready to see the birds of Yellowstone for yourself? Contact us today to book a guided hike or ATV tour, where we’ll be sure to remind you to look to the skies.