Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail

Birds You May See

  Ptarmigan sitting on tundra
  Rock ptarmigan
Each spring many birds migrate long distances to breed and raise young on the alpine tundra traversed by the Pinnell Mountain Trail. Other species such as ravens and ptarmigans brave the cold winters to remain in the area year-round.

While hiking, watch for young birds on the trail. Chicks find it easier to run on the trail rather than among the tundra vegetation. Give them and other wildlife the right-of-way.

Here are some of the more common species you may encounter:

Ptarmigan. Two species of ptarmigan live along the trail: rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) and willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus). Both are close relatives of grouse, but unlike their cousins, ptarmigan turn from brown to white with the seasons, making them difficult for predators to see.

 American Golden-Plover
 American Golden-Plover (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Plover. The American golden-plover (Pluvialis dominica) can be found on the drier hillsides with nests in the tundra moss. These speckled, brown birds with black faces and bellies are well camouflaged on the tundra. Plovers eat mainly insects but also feed on crowberries and blueberries. Impressive travelers, these birds winter in South America and spend their summers in areas like the ridges of the Pinnell Mountain Trail.

Northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). This bird, also known as the old-world thrush, is found in rock fields and rock ridges, where it builds nests in cavities between rocks. Northern wheatears migrate to eastern Asia for the winter.

Other birds you may see along the trail include varied thrushes, surf birds, Baird's sandpipers, water pipits, horned larks, Lapland longspurs, common ravens, gyrfalcons, golden eagles, and northern harriers.