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Natural & Cultural History

Wildlife

The Salmon River offers an amazing opportunity for avid bird watchers.  While floating through the pristine canyons keep alert for the chestnut brown and white canyon wren’s fluid song of decelerating, descending notes.  These birds tend to be found in the steep, shady sections of the canyon and cliffs.  The gray American dipper (often incorrectly referred to as a water ouzel), may also be seen bobbing along the water’s edge.  They may even be diving, swimming, or walking on the river bottom in search of food.  The blue and white belted kingfisher may hover, then dive headlong into the water from the air.    

Chukar partridges, once natives of India and Pakistan and now a game species, were introduced to the canyon sometime in the early 1950s.  These brownish-gray birds, with black and white barred flanks and red legs and bill, have a very distinct “chuck, chuck, chuck” call.  They are frequently seen at the river’s edge during the summer.  Both bank and common cliff swallows are common to the canyons.  They are differentiated simply by their habitat location.  The bank swallow living in dirt hollows and the cliff swallow that builds gourd-shaped mud nests along the canyon walls.  Canada geese and mergansers are also common residents.  In the early hours of evening it’s common to see nighthawks, a member of the goatsucker family of birds.  On another impressive birding note, the Salmon River also features one of the highest concentrations of raptors in the world.  Golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, Northern harriers, American kestrels and ospreys are year round residents, while bald eagles winter in the canyons.  

As for amphibians, western toads are common along the river, and tailed and spotted frogs are found in side drainages.  Western rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, rubber boas, racers, and garter snakes are all found along the river.  The western fence lizard, blue skink, and western skink are also sometimes seen.  

Many mammals can also be seen and heard along the Salmon River.  Beavers, otters, minks, and raccoons are all area residents.  Cougar and bobcat are common, but due to their seclusive nature are rarely seen.  If you listen closely while sitting at your campfire in the evening, you may just be lucky enough to hear the howl of coyotes in the background.  Mule deer, which can be easily identified by their white rumps and narrow white tail with a black tip, and white-tailed deer are often observed in the area.  Sharp eyes may also spot Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Blue Canyon and along the Snake River.  Although very unusual, there is an occasional moose to be seen.

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