Bird Watching & Wildlife Viewing
When you visit the Priest Lake Basin, you're in the home environment of numerous animals from small weasel family critters to the mighty grizzly bear, the majestic elk, and the noble bald eagle. Act as a good guest and you'll often be rewarded with the opportunity to view these creatures in their natural environment without disturbing them as they go about their normal routine. As with most wildlife species, the best opportunities to view these magnificent animals are early morning or dusk. They can often be observed in the vicinity of the many wetland areas in the basin or around lakes and streams.
Larger game species that make the Priest Lake area their home include black and grizzly bears, whitetail and mule deer, moose, elk, wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, mountain sheep and a few mountain goats. The grizzly bear and mountain caribou have been designated as "threatened" under the endangered species act and their habitat is protected by selective mountain road closures, restrictive bear hunting methods, etc.
A wide variety of smaller animals also make the Priest Lake Basin their home. Included are raccoons, skunks, snowshoe hares, beaver, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, weasel family animals, etc. These animals may be encountered at about any location in the Basin. You may encounter a few snakes in the area but all are the harmless variety. No poisonous snakes make the Priest Lake area their home.
The area has a growing population of bald eagles and an abundant population of osprey. Numerous osprey nests are visible in high tree snags around the shoreline of the both Priest and Upper Priest Lakes and on some of the islands. Patient viewers will have the pleasure of observing osprey fishing techniques near shorelines where unwary fish congregate. The osprey is probably the most effective and efficient "fisherman" on the Lake. Canadian geese are ever present on the Lake as are various duck species. Depending upon the time of the year, the wetland areas off the south end of the Lake and in the Bear Creek area are excellent areas to view less common duck species such as the wood duck and redhead. Also, don't be surprised if you observe a great blue heron stalking its meal in a wetland area or a flock of wild turkeys along the roadside.
Numerous other bird species also reside at Priest Lake. Ravens are ubiquitous, as are numerous varieties of woodpeckers and jays. Pine martins, goshawks, grouse and blue birds are but a few of the other species native to the area. In summer, large numbers of hummingbirds congregate throughout the area. A favorite pastime of children, as well as many adults, is observing the antics of these beautiful little birds. They put on amazing aerial demonstrations as they 'dog fight' over access to the many, many hummingbird feeders set out by local residents.