April in Yellowstone

Seasonal Phenology Notes from the Greater Yellowstone Area

On this page you’ll find April phenology notes for Yellowstone and surrounding areas (mainly Cody, WY). If you’re wondering what it’s like in Yellowstone in April – browse through to get an idea.

April 1

  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Snow showers through the day. More snow higher up. Good to see.

April 2

  • 2012: Yellowstone | Upper Geyser Basin – First Grizzly Bear seen on the live streaming webcam pointed at Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin.
  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Hundreds of Gray-crowned Rosy Finches came in today – hopefully dining on ticks. Snow showers in the day settled in more solidly and we had 1″ on the deck by bedtime.
  • 2018: Cody area – Snowed pretty much all day. Ended up with 7-8″ in town.
  • 2018: Wapiti WY – Windmill Inn reported seeing large flocks of Gray-crowned Rosy Finches at their place.
  • 2018: North Fork of the Shoshone | Eagle Creek – Watched a pair of Bald Eagles flying a courtship dance along the river as the winter storm blew in.

April 3

  • 2014: Cody | South Fork – 25-30 Sandhill Cranes were spotted in the fields. One pair stayed closer to the spot where a pair has been seen nesting over the past few years closer to town.
  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Sunny but cold. Snow melted up to tree line.
  • 2017: Cody | In Town – Woke to 1/2″ of snow on the grass. A report from Jim Mountain out in Wapiti came in saying they had 6″ or so.
  • 2018: Cody area – Sunshine galore today – lots of melting going on.
  • 2019: Cody WY – The turkey vultures returned to their familiar roost today.

April 4

  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Total lunar eclipse this morning. Humid and cold.
  • 2016: Yellowstone | Northern Range – First Bison calf was seen toddling about.
  • 2016: Cody | In Town – Leaves on trees on Canyon Avenue popped today (this afternoon).
  • 2018: Cody | In Town – About half the Mule Deer have shed their antlers in the past few days.

April 5

  • 2014: Gardiner – An American Kestrel was seen as well as a skunk.
  • 2014: Cody – Lightning was seen for the first time this year off in the distance closer to the Bighorn Mountains in the evening.
  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk hunted near the house this morning – but the rabbits stayed tucked in. Mountain Bluebirds actively building their nest. Mule deer are hanging out in smaller groups of 2-4 rather than the large winter herds.
  • 2017: Cody | Beck Lake – The Osprey were seen back on the nests.
  • 2018: Cody – Black-capped Chickadees were seriously looking at the Kestrel nest box this morning – going inside, hopping around the outside, looking it up and down. Maybe they’re thinking of having an extra large brood.
  • 2019: Cody WY – First thunder of the year heard today

April 6

  • 2014: Cody | In Town – Watched a House Finch gather material to build a nest. A search for Kestrels on South Fork came up with none.
  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Had about 4″ of snow.

April 7

  • 2015: Cody | In Town – A male Mountain Bluebird was fighting his reflection in the window this evening.
  • 2018: Cody | In Town – An email from WyoBirds email list said that the first Turkey Vulture of the year was seen about 5 PM making a beeline for the roost tree downtown.

April 8

  • 2014: Big Horn Basin | Near Lovell – At least 20 Wild Turkeys were seen strutting.
  • 2015: Cody WY – Five American White Pelicans were seen on Buffalo Bill Reservoir this evening. And the Turkey Vultures returned this week to Cody.

April 10

  • 1937: Yellowstone | Northern Range – A pair of Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus) were seen today in the horse corral at the old ranger station. Large flocks of these little birds have been near the station all winter. A Rocky Mountain Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) was also seen near the station today. –Marguerite L. Arnold (from Yellowstone Nature Notes Vol XIV, No 4 | Leaves from our Diaries)
  • 2015: Wapiti WY – Mountain Bluebirds still building their nest this evening.
  • 2017: Cody | In Town – Leaves are starting to pop out on the trees & bushes throughout town.

April 11

  • 2017: Cody | Alkali Lake – Three American White Pelicans were seen on Alkali Lake this morning. By evening there were about 35. Also, a Bald Eagle was seen at Beck Lake.

April 12

  • 2018: Cody | In Town – We’ve had one or two American Robins around for awhile, but today it seems the rest of the flock arrived and the pairing up has started.

April 13

  • 2014: Cody | North Fork – Woke to 2-3″ of snow in Cody – seemed to be about the same amount all the way up North Fork. The willows across from Pahaska were starting to put out their catkins (first seen). Elk were seen in large numbers near the UXU Ranch. Western Bluebirds in vast numbers were seen not far from the Wapiti post office (at least 100).
  • 2014: West Yellowstone | Hebgen Lake – A report on Facebook says the ice on Hebgen Lake is blue as it starts to lose its  hold on the lake. (ME via FB)

April 14

  • 2014: Cody | In Town – The Turkey Vultures were seen on their familiar roost in town – they may have returned the week prior, but they were too far away to verify. Also, a Kestrel was seen preying on the bluebirds up North Fork.
  • 2017: Yellowstone | Northern Range – From their Facebook page, Yellowstone Tour Guides spotted their first Bison calf of the year.
  • 2018: Cody | Beck Lake/Alkali Lake – The Osprey are back on the nests at both Beck and Alkali Lakes. The nests have been empty the past three days, so I think this is the first day back for them.
  • 2019: Yellowstone | Northern Range – A report on Facebook announced the first bison calf of the season.

April 15

  • 2014: Yellowstone | Various Locations – “There were Sandhill Cranes at Elk Park and Beaver Lake this morning, and there was a Swan in the Firehole River at Biscuit Basin.”
  • 2014: West Yellowstone  – Kirkwood Resort and Marina shared Mike Burdic’s photo and report of seeing his first Baby Bison of the season
  • 2017: Cody | In Town – The Northern Flickers were very active around the nest box.
  • 2018: Yellowstone | Tower Junction area – Report on Facebook said the first Bison calf had been seen.
  • 2019: Cody WY – Grackles returned this afternoon.

April 16

  • 2017: Cody | In Town – A House Sparrow was seen gathering nest material. Owls (likely Great Horned Owls) heard early this morning. Female Northern Flicker thoroughly checked out the nest box.

April 17

  • 2017: Cody | In Town – Northern Flickers seen mating and in the nest box. Not sure what happened, but they disappeared. Unsuccessful nesting.
  • 2018: Cody | In Town – Snow this morning. Got an inch or two.

April 18

  • 2014: Yellowstone | Upper Geyser Basin – A Grizzly Bear was seen near the Old Faithful Interchange – WB’s first of the year.
  • 2014: Yellowstone | Gardiner /North Entrance – First Baby Bison seen this season seen by the Yellowstone Park Foundation
  • 2014: Belfry-Bridger Area – Great Blue Herons were seen in nests in the rookery by the highway, American Kestrels were seen & a pair of Sandhill Cranes were seen with one on the nest – other Sandhill Cranes were also seen.
  • 2014: Cody | South Fork – While fishing near the Dust Abatement Dike on Buffalo Bill Reservoir, a friend saw 3 Sandhill Cranes flew over and began circling upward until they were far out of sight, making the next leg of their migration journey.

April 19

  • 2018: Cody | Alkali Lake – Two American White Pelicans seen this morning – first of the year for me!

April 20

  • 2014: Cody | In town – While on a walk, we watched an American Kestrel take down and dine on a Eurasion Dove.
  • 2015: Cody | Wapiti – Mountain Bluebirds seen mating.
  • 2017: Cody | Monument Hill – Meadowlarks heard! Probably not the first ones, but a FOY for me. The hills are getting green!

April 21

  • 2014: Yellowstone | Old Faithful – First chipmunk spotted on the loop around Old Faithful near Old Faithful Lodge.
  • 2017: Yellowstone – Two Trumpeter Swans at Whisky Flats. Sandhill Crane seen just north of Nymph Lake.

April 22

  • 2014: Cody | Near Town – a batch of Mayflies hatched.
  • 2015: Cody | Wapiti – Mountain Bluebirds seen mating again. Saw three American White Pelicans on Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Heard Sandhill Cranes in the Wapiti Valley.
  • 2017: Yellowstone – Two Trumpeter Swans north of Obsidian Creek. Two Trumpeter Swans north of Twin Lakes. Sandhill Crane at the Ranger Museum. Three Trumpeter Swans on the Firehole River near the top of Firehole Canyon. Sandhill Cranes heard in the Upper Geyser Basin. Osprey flew over carrying nest material (Upper Geyser Basin). Boreal Chorus Frogs head at Gibbon Meadows on the Madison side of the Artist Paint Pots turnout.

April 23

  • 2015: Cody | Wapiti – Saw the first Yellow Viola blooming in the yard.
  • 2017: Yellowstone – Saw a pair of Northern Flickers courting and chasing each other through the bobby socks trees in the Lower Geyser Basin. Two Trumpeter Swans flying out of Whisky Flats. No Boreal Chorus Frogs heard at Black Sand Basin (temp 48° F) and no Boreal Chorus Frogs heard at Gibbon Meadows either. Tree Swallows were seen by Mountain Sky Ranch in Paradise Valley.
  • 2018: Cody | In Town – Overcast with rain and snow all day. No accumulation even on the grass. (But it was a great day to spend in the office.)

April 24

  • 1938: Yellowstone | Lamar Valley – This day I counted twenty-three newly born buffalo calves in a herd of one hundred sixty cows in Lamar Valley. (Note: Up to the present time eighty-eight calves have been counted in Lamar Valley herd and an estimate of one hundred calves is given by Assistant Chief Ranger Barrows.) – Frank R. Oberhansley (from Yellowstone Nature Notes Vol XV, Nos. 5-6 | Leaves from our Diaries)
  • 1938: Yellowstone | Elk Park – We were afforded a real treat today when we saw two sandhill cranes (Gnus canadensis tabida) feeding in the meadows of Elk Park, and as we drove on to Gibbon Meadows, eight of these majestic birds were seen near the margins of the Gibbon river. We watched them until darkness curtained the scene. Their ceremonious mating antics were accompanied by shrill, bugle-like calls. Knowing that these birds are very rare and in fact, nearly extinct, except in such areas as Yellowstone, we were humbly grateful for such an unusual opportunity. – W. E. Kearns (from Yellowstone Nature Notes Vol XV, Nos. 5-6 | Leaves from our Diaries)

April 25

  • 2018: Cody | In Town – Raccoons got into the bird feeders for the first time this year.
  • 2018: Cody | Wapiti – 20 or so American White Pelicans hunkered down on the west end of Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Wind and dust blowing over all of them. I guess they’re also waiting to get into Yellowstone. Also saw some American Kestrels on the power lines just west of the Wapiti Post Office. A pair of Osprey were on the nest at Half Moon Bay. Plenty of Mule Deer still in the valley in groups of 20 or 30. The Elk were just west of the Post Office.

April 28

  • 2018: Cody | In Town – I see this morning that the neighbor’s aspen trees rained catkins overnight. The garden looks like its been overrun by gray caterpillars. Aspen always remain wild and free – never respecting the civilities of garden life. Roots, catkins and leaves all wander where they will. The Crabapple Tree next door broke leaf buds today. Lovely warm day!’
  • 2019: Woke to 3″ of snow this morning, much of it coming down in large flakes. Sun came out, wind kicked up and most of it was gone by noon. It was completely gone by afternoon. A drive up North Fork showed groups of bighorn sheep ewes starting to migrate as they were farther west. A few bison might be moving farther up toward the park as well, but I haven’t taken enough drives this year to know for certain.

April 29

  • 2015: Cody | In Town & on Jim Creek in Wapiti – Heard Ruby-crowned Kinglets for the first time this year in both spots.
  • 2018: Cody | In Town – Heard the first thunder of the year as a thunderstorm quickly overtook the sky around noon. Not much rain from it, though.

April 30

  • 2015: Cody | Wapiti – A neighbor watched a Wild Turkey strutting around his house.
  • 2018: Cody WY – Rained all day – things are greening up nicely. Leaves breaking bud all over town this week.
  • 2019: Cody WY – Woke to an inch of snow this morning.