More Than Waterfowl at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve

By Heidi Ware, Education and Outreach Director for the Intermountain Bird Observatory

Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve teems with birds. Birders come to Hyatt in droves for the excellent views of charismatic species like Ruddy Ducks, with their bright blue bills. Or the families of Pied-billed Grebes with their odd, croaking calls and cute zebra-striped babies. Birders and passers-by marvel at the Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and Ospreys fishing–each in their own way. We think of the raucous calls of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, the classic Red-winged Blackbird “conk-a-ree”, and the raspy, energetic chatter of Marsh Wrens.

When the reserve was formed, a restoration effort created excellent wetland habitat that attracts a great variety of species.


Photo Kathy Hopkins



A male Northern Shoveler swims on the pond at Hyatt wetland. Northern Shovelers are common visitors to Hyatt during the Fall, Winter, and Spring.


Photo Kathy Hopkins


A Yellow-headed Blackbird sits in the sun atop cattails at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve.

Photo Kathy Hopkins







Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve is Home to More than Waterfowl!

If you look at the species list, Hyatt may host a huge variety of waterbirds, but in reality, more than half the species that call Hyatt home also rely on its upland habitat for survival! American Kestrels hunt for mice and grasshoppers in the shrubs and fields. California Quail, Black-billed Magpies, and numerous Sparrow species rely on Sagebrush and other shrubs for food, shelter, and warmth.

An American Kestrel snacks on a Grasshopper at Hyatt Hidden Lakes.  A Black-billed Magpie at Hyatt Hidden Lakes. Photos by Ken Miracle


The cover that Hyatt’s upland habitat provides means birds have a home year-round, even during the cold of winter, when shelter is especially important. And while birds already love and use Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, the upland habitat is not what it could be.

a male and female California Quail snuggle together in the sunshine on a snowy day
Two California Qual snuggle in the warm shelter of Hyatt’s upland habitat. Photo by Idaho Birding admin Tom Carroll

A number of invasive grasses and shrubs have taken over large patches of Hyatt, making it less attractive to birds than the native plants that should be there. If you can believe it, Hyatt could someday be even more valuable habitat for birds with just a little TLC.

Upland habitat restoration is underway!

I hope you’ll join me, and the rest of the birdwatching and nature loving community, in supporting the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Habitat Enhancement Project. There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of room for enthusiastic volunteers to pitch in. As a fan of Hyatt, I cannot wait to watch the bird list grow even larger as the habitat continues to improve.

To hear what we’re doing to make Hyatt even better, don’t forget to attend our BREN Brown Bag Lunch Program on April 11 at the Boise Library at 11:30 am.

To learn more about the birds that call Hyatt home, be sure to join the Idaho Birding Facebook community. Our local Golden Eagle Audubon Society often visits Hyatt during their group field trips.

You can also view a species list and illustrated checklist of Hyatt’s bird diversity on eBird. Or, even add your own observations of Hyatt’s bird life by submitting your own eBird checklist.