Wyoming: Summer 2016

Summer 2016: 1 Jun–31 Jul

Matthew Fraker

Recommended citation:

Fraker, M. 2021. Summer 2016: Wyoming. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-9QB> North American Birds.

Wyoming saw its second warmest June in 122 years in 2016, while July stood at a more gentle “just” above normal with her temps. Overall, there was no evidence of drought in the state despite six of the major drainages being “much below normal” and the other four being “below normal” in June, while July improved with three drainages “much below normal”, four “below normal”, two “near normal”, and one “above normal”.

Mute Swan might finally make it to the Wyoming list soon, and probably should. A solid population of Flammulated Owls was finally confirmed in Jackson Hole. The state added Curve-billed Thrasher to its list with a showy songster near Chugwater, while the state’s 10th Canada Warbler (second for summer) brightened a day in the SE part of the state.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Joe Austin, Vinod Babu, Shawn Billerman, Edward Boyd, Lynn Chapman, Holly Copeland, Kendra David, Doug Eddy, Matt Fraker (Wyoming), Judy Geiger, Larry Geiger, Barb Gorges, Mark Gorges, CJ Grimes (CJG), Robert Guth, Jake Henning, Colby Howard, Zac Hutchinson, Greg Johnson, Don Jones, Tom Koerner, Rich Kostecke, Michael Linz, Patty McLean, Ron Morris, Daniel and James Muller (D&JM), Del Nelson, Jen Ottinger, Amanda Parrish, Cody Porter, Madelyne Ray, Will Robinson, Vic Samstag, Stacey Scott, Jim Stasz, Diane Thomas, Jason Whitmore.


YNP (Yellowstone National Park); GTNP (Grand Teton National Park).

A Mute Swan photographed near Bill, Converse 5 Jun (JH ph.) might have provided the second record for Wyoming if either record gets accepted. Rare in summer away from their higher-elevation breeding haunts, a trio of Ring-necked Ducks on the same pond near Bill, Converse 5 Jun (JH) as the aforementioned Mute Swan provided a rare eastern plains summer sighting. A pair of Greater Scaup photographed in north YNP, Park 16 Jun (D&JM) provided just the seventh summer report for the state, three of which involved pairs. Single Hooded Mergansers at Wardell/Harrington Reservoir, Big Horn 1 Jun (CJG), Poison Spider Creek, Natrona 6 Jun (SS), and at Seedskadee NWR, Sweetwater 18 Jul (TK), provided rare summer sightings for Wyoming which has less than 35 total seasonal reports.

Annual now for five of the last six summers, Wyoming had two White-winged Dove reports, both singles, at Laramie, Albany 6 Jun (DT) and at Saratoga, Carbon 22 July (MR). Adding to only about five previous June reports for Wyoming was a single Semipalmated Plover near Evanston, Uinta 17 Jun (JW). Black Terns had their most dismal summer in at least five years in Wyoming with only four reports involving four to five individuals (eBird Data). Wyoming had two single Common Loons reported away from their summer NW haunts with one at Saratoga Lake, Carbon 3–4 Jun (JG, LG) and the other at Frye Lake, Fremont 27 Jun (DN). Wyoming only had a handful of summer Snowy Egret reports this year, with three reports of singles across the southern half of the state where expected but declining, and two from farther north near Casper, Natrona 24 Jun (KD ph.) where quite rare. Adding to about eleven previous summer reports for Wyoming was a single Cattle Egret north of Laramie, Albany 18 Jun (PM, ML ph.). A well-documented Glossy Ibis at the Laramie Plains Lakes, Albany 29 Jul (SB) provided Wyoming with its 11th overall and third summer report.

With virtually all summer reports of Broad-winged Hawk in Wyoming coming from the Bear Lodge Mts. of the NE, exceptional were this season’s only reports, both singles in the SE quadrant, an adult just outside Cheyenne, Laramie 2 Jun (MG ph.) and an immature in Rock Creek Canyon, Carbon 11 Jun (CP ph.). For the second time in three years, a Western Screech-Owl was reported from south Uinta 4 Jun (ZH) providing the only report of this completely enigmatic species for Wyoming.


Flammulated Owls have been a major enigma if not a rumor in the Jackson Hole region of Wyoming. An owlet at a nest was photographed south of the Hole in Aug 2013. A very ill bird was found in a Jackson Hole garage in 2015 and later died at the Teton Raptor center. Other birds had been detected on surveys near the Palisades Reservoir and on the west slope of the Tetons.

Teton Raptor Center’s very owl-experienced Bryan Bedrosian set out during the spring and summer of 2016 to attempt to find any evidence of Flammies in the Hole. He and his survey crews detected an amazing 18 singing males throughout the Hole, confirming this obscure ghostlet as yet another regular owl species in Jackson Hole.

Here is a link to a local article about Bryan’s work:



West of its expected Wyoming range was a single Red-headed Woodpecker near Ten Sleep, Washakie on 5 Jun (CJG). First detected on Casper Mt., Natrona, in spring 2014, three Williamson’s Sapsuckers, including a female that tantalizingly appeared to have a brood patch, were found there 13 Jul (ZH). After four years with just 12 total summer Merlin reports, 2015 saw eight reports in Wyoming and 2016 had six reports for what may be a true increased presence of the species in the state (m.obs.). For the fourth time in five years, Jackson Hole, Teton has hosted reports of Least Flycatchers suggesting that they are not “occasional” there as currently described, but rather annual and expected (m.obs.) Very rare in Wyoming but mostly seen in summer, a single Eastern Phoebe visited Canyon Creek, Washakie from 8–14 Jun (CJG). Far from their typical eastern Wyoming haunts was a single Cassin’s Kingbird near Ten Sleep, Washakie 5 Jun for a latilong first record (CJG). The only Red-eyed Vireo away from their expected easterly range in Wyoming was a single in the northwest (where their breeding status remains a mystery) at the Bridger-Teton NF, Teton 5 July (RM). Generally absent and rarely reported from GTNP or YNP, a single Canyon Wren was documented in the Lamar Valley, YNP, Park on 20 Jun (RK).

The only Wyoming Eastern Bluebird report away from the NE part of the state (where expected)  was a single at the High Plains Grassland Research Station, Laramie 9 Jul (LC). Although reported several times from the county, still rare so far north in Wyoming was a Northern Mockingbird at Hyattville, Big Horn 2 Jun (CJG). Wyoming’s first Curve-billed Thrasher was a very well-documented bird that set up shop for over two weeks at a private residence near Chugwater, Platte in June, with photographic and audio confirmation on 9 Jun (MF) and 11 Jun (SB).

Wyoming’s only summer Clay-colored Sparrow report came from an oddly northwestern location on the Beartooth Highway, Park 15 Jun (EB, JS). Wyoming’s seventh non-BBS summer report and 15th non-BBS report overall of Field Sparrow was of two birds seen and heard north of Gillette, Campbell 10 Jun (JO). Up to two Baird’s Sparrows, an enigmatic and likely under-reported summer resident in eastern Wyoming, were present along the Old Laramie River Rd, Albany, from 1–25 Jun (SB, DE, DJ).

Away from their normal Wyoming range about the Big Horn Mt. flanks and in the NE, two outlying Bobolinks were found at Lucky Pond, Fremont 18 Jun (JA) while a single bird was reported from Curt Gowdy S.P., Laramie 28 Jun (BG, MG). Adding to just six previous summer Wyoming reports of Baltimore Oriole (and 31 total for the state) were three well-described males, one at Belvoir Ranch, Laramie 11 Jun (ZH), one west of Cheyenne, Laramie 12 Jun (GJ), and one at Devils Tower, Crook 20 Jun (EB, JS). Away from their SE haunts where they are well-established in Wyoming, an outlying single Great-tailed Grackle was photographed way NE at Keyhole S.P., Crook 17 Jun (VB ph.) where extremely rare.

Seasonally rare in Wyoming and more typical in the western part of the state, Townsend’s Warblers were well-represented this summer with one photographed at Vedauwoo Campground, Albany 6 Jun (VS); a single in south Carbon, 7 Jun (JG); two at Colter Bay, GTNP, Teton also 7 Jun (AP); and a single SW of Buffalo, Johnson 13 Jun (RG). Wyoming’s second summer Canada Warbler, 10th overall, was well described and recorded just NE of Laramie, Albany 20 Jun (CP).

Wyoming’s sixth summer and 21st overall Northern Cardinal report came from Douglas, Converse where a female was found on 27 Jun (WR). Wyoming’s only summer Rose-breasted Grosbeak report, an uncommon to rare seasonal species, was of a single in Casper, Natrona, 5 Jun (CH ph., KD, DN). Rare anywhere seasonally in Wyoming but expected in the east, an Indigo Bunting found dead in Squaw Creek, Fremont, 8 Jun (HC) was way westerly.

Report processed by Eric DeFonso, 10 Feb 2021.