Birds usually find me before I find them but if you’re into bird watching, Yosemite is a place that can’t be beat. Yosemite is home to over 150 species of migratory birds as well as another 75 species of transient birds. If you’re into raptors there have been known sightings of Red Tailed Hawks (Chicken Hawks), Falcons, Buzzards and, yes, Bald Eagles on occasion.
The most regularly seen residents include Steller’s Jay (try eating anything outside and you’ll see one), American Robin, Acorn Woodpecker, Ravens, and the Mountain Chickadee. In spring, look for the bright red wing patches on the Red-Winged Blackbird (most often seen in wet meadows) or the tropical looking Western Tanager foraging in the conifers. Near rivers and streams, it’s not uncommon to find the American Dipper Dart, White and Gray Herons and even the transient pair of Ducks.
If you’ve got really keen eyes, a good pair of binoculars and “spider sense” you might catch a glimpse of some of the parks more sought after residents: the Great Gray Owl, Spotted Owl, Peregrine Falcon, or Northern Goshawk.
So if you’re looking for something different to do, try birding. Just head out some morning to a nice, quiet forests or meadow away from developed areas and have a look around. You’ll never know what you’ll see.
By the way, before you go buying that bullhorn and plugging your iPod into it to broadcast bird calls, keep in mind that it’s not only illegal to use bird calls in a national park, it ruins the experience for everyone. Imagine mistakenly broadcasting the call of the biggest predator of the bird you’re looking for. Good luck finding one after that.