Birding the Helena Valley and Canyon Ferry WMA

Directions: Lake Helena, Hauser Lake, and the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir are located northeast of Helena. Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area is located southeast of Helena near Townsend.

General information: There are numerous locations to bird watch in the Helena Valley. Visiting areas in the surrounding mountains as well as the lake habitats can produce a variety of species. A detailed guide to the Helena Valley entitled, Birding in the Helena Area is available at There is also a bird list available for the birds of Canyon Ferry WMA. Best birding locations include; Lake Helena, Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir, Hauser Lake, and Canyon Ferry WMA.

Habitats: Habitats include dry grasslands, ponderosa and lodgepole pine/juniper, Douglas-fir forests, willow/cottonwood, riparian areas, lakes, prairie potholes, wetlands and cliffs.

Species of note: Trumpeter Swan, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, American White Pelican, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Baird’s Sandpiper, Franklin’s Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, Great Horned Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-Throated Swift, Dusky Flycatcher, Pinyon Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Cassin’s Finch, and Red Crossbill

Best viewing seasons: May - July for breeding birds; August - November for shorebirds and migrants.

Download the Southwest Montana Birding Brochure

Townsend Chamber
110 Broadway
Townsend, MT 59644
(406) 266-4101
Canyon Ferry WMA
Last Chance Audubon Society