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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
Discover the Nature of Montana...

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Seven Sisters Fishing Access And Wildlife Management Area

Habitat Riches—river to prairie

The Yellowstone River nourishes trees and creates sloughs and even a sandy soil prairie—a feast of habitats that correlates with an exciting mix of birds and wildlife species.


Species of Note

  • Canada Goose
  • American White Pelican
  • Great Blue Heron
  • American Avocet
  • Common Snipe
  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Turkey Vulture
  • American Kestrel
  • Wild Turkey
  • Mourning Dove
  • Eastern Screech Owl
  • Belted Kingfisher,
  • Northern Flicker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Barn Swallow
  • Bank Swallow
  • Least Flycatcher
  • Western Wood-peewee
  • Blue Jay
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Black-headed Grosbeak
  • Gray Catbird
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Common Nighthawk
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • House Wren
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Yellow-breasted Chat
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Goldfinch
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Oriole (Baltimore)
Other Wildlife
  • White-tailed Deer
  • American Beaver
  • Common Raccoon
  • Mink
  • Masked Shrew
  • Meadow Vole
  • Western Harvest Mouse
  • Northern Leopard Frog
  • Woodhouse’s Toad
  • Bat (several species)
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What to Do

Park by the Yellowstone River and walk along the shoreline to see forest birds in the cottonwoods and grassland birds in the prairie. The 562-acre area lacks a boat ramp, but offers an easy launch for small boats. Hunting is allowed in fall and winter for game birds and deer.

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Field Notes

Swallows dip and swoop snatching insects hatching from the Yellowstone River. A beaver leaves a wake as it swims out from the shore. A Black-Headed Grosbeak sings its robin-like song from the top of a cottonwood. Deer nap in high grasses and a Wilson’s Snipe rises up into the sky and plunges earthward. As the bird dives, the rushing air causes the two outer feathers to vibrate and create a weird winnowing sound that grows louder and louder.

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You’re sampling just a small part of the mighty Yellowstone River, not far from its confluence with the Missouri. While here, you might take a moment to appreciate the significance of this river flowing for 670 miles—it’s a lifeline for migratory and nesting Montana birds. While rivers and riparian areas in the west make up only 1 % of the landscape, they support the vast majority of our bird life. The key along the Yellowstone River is to make sure healthy cottonwood forests thrive.

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Cultural Connection

The name “Seven Sisters” leads to some pondering—did a family homestead here and all seven sisters stayed on? Does Seven Sisters refer to the constellation in the dark night skies? We do know that the town of Crane was named after Trapper Jimmy Crane who, with his partner French Joe Seymour, built the first cabin near the town site of Sidney in 1876. Crane was described by a peer as “a dead shot with a rifle, an ardent lover of whiskey and an expert at draw poker, but aside from these he had no religious accomplishments worth speaking of.”
(Check out the Roadside History of Montana book for more cultural tidbits for travelers).

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Best Seasons

May through September
June for woodland species

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Getting There

View Google Map

Nine miles south of Sidney at mile marker 41 off State Highway16. Turn east at the town of Crane on a gravel road marked by a fishing access sign. Drive 1 mile.

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Boat launch (hand launch)

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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 1630 Miles City, MT 59301; (406) 234-0900

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