Birding the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area

Directions: Located immediately adjacent to I-90, Exit 201, 13 miles south of Deer Lodge.

General information: One of the premier bird watching destinations and the largest area for waterfowl production in the upper Clark Fork Valley. The refuge is a complex of ponds developed by ARCO for treatment of surface water impacted by historic mining, and by Ducks Unlimited, and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for waterfowl production. (See insert map for pond locations.) This 2,500-acre wildlife habitat is found on both the east and west sides of I-90. Two major streams, the Clark Fork River and Warm Springs Creek also intersect this area. All of the ARCO ponds can be walked or bicycled via an extensive network of dike roads and trails. The Ducks Unlimited and Job Corps Ponds have roads that can be driven. A map insert and checklist entitled, “The Birds of Warm Springs Ponds” by Montana Audubon and Atlantic Richfield can be obtained by contacting the Warm Springs FWP Office at

Habitats: Primarily wetland consisting of cattail, rush, sedge, and willow, as well as riparian areas of willow, alder, water birch, aspen, and cottonwood.

Species of note: Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Gray Partridge, Common Loon, 5 species of Grebes, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, White-faced Ibis, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Virginia Rail, Sora, 28 species of shorebirds (mostly in the fall), Sabine’s Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Willow and Western Flycatcher, Western and Eastern Kingbird, American Pipit, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Winter visitors include: Rough-legged Hawk, Gyrfalcon, Prairie Falcon, Northern Shrike, American Tree Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Common and Hoary Redpoll.

Best viewing season: April - October; spring and fall for waterfowl; late summer for shorebirds; June for songbirds.

Download the Southwest Montana Birding Brochure

Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area
PO Box A
Warm Springs, MT 59756
(406) 693-7395
Warm Springs WMA