CODY, WYO. — Wildlife and nature lovers looking to avoid the summer crowds have a chance this week to join expert guides on tours of some of the most scenic and inspiring spots in Yellowstone National Park and nearby public lands.
Organizers of Spring Into Yellowstone say space is still available for many of the tours, lectures and workshops scheduled from Wednesday through Sunday in and around Cody and Yellowstone Park.
Now in its fourth year, the wildlife, birding and outdoors festival organized by the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce showcases the area’s landscapes and animals, focusing on in-depth tours and activities that many first-time visitors and longtime local residents may not have had the opportunity to enjoy.
That includes everything from a fly fishing workshop to a nighttime stakeout to watch (and possibly capture) bats, along with more traditional fare like photography tours and nature hikes.
“We are thrilled about this year’s breadth of experiences our partners have offered,” said chamber director Tina Hoebelheinrich. “Participants from all over the world will have the opportunity to fish in our world-class streams with expert guides, hike through Shoshone National Forest with Wyoming Game and Fish bear experts, see and understand the incredible layers of exposed earth such as Precambrian granite and more, right on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.”
Destin Harrell, a wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management, will again lead bird-watchers on a popular excursion: a pre-dawn outing to take in the unique and quirky mating ritual of the greater-sage grouse.
Visitors will stake out a sage grouse lek in hopes of watching the male birds strut, cluck, whistle, pop and whoot in search of a female partner.
Tour participants who joined Harrell in 2013 got to watch the action from a distance, and were surprised to hear how easily the birds’ vocalizations carried.
“These clear, calm mornings are very important for sage grouse, so that popping and whooshing sound you hear will carry, and advertise for a female for them to mate with,” Harrell told members of his group three years ago in the pre-dawn twilight east of Cody.
This year, in addition to sage grouse, Harrell will be looking—and listening—for sage thrashers, Brewer’s sparrows, vesper sparrows, horned larks, Western meadowlarks, loggerhead shrikes and rare shorebirds like long-billed curlews and mountain plovers.
For more information, call 307-587-2777 or visit SpringIntoYellowstone.net for a full schedule of events and immediate online registration.