I like this region in the South Hills because the mix of habitat types leads to great birding. Of course, Cassia Crossbill is the star bird. Search for it in the older and more open stands of lodgepole pine, and especially look for trees with old cones that are gray in color. The birds are most active early in the day, and they can be found any time of the year. Note also that two types of Red Crossbill — Types 2 and 5 — occur regularly in summer in the South Hills. The calls are different enough to distinguish them, but be sure to listen to recordings before you go, so you know what to listen for.
At Porcupine Springs, dense forests, forest patches, high-elevation sagebrush, mountain shrub, and open, grassy areas produce a high diversity of species. Because the campground is at around 7,000 feet elevation, it provides active birding through July, when lower elevations have heated up and quieted down. I do a lot of birding from my camp chair, running a new eBird checklist every hour or so for 15 minutes. And I like to take a couple of hummingbird feeders to hang around camp to draw in Calliope and Black-chinned Hummingbirds during early summer and Rufous later in the season.
Terry Rich is the former national coordinator for Partners in Flight and is a board member of the American Birding Association and Great Basin Bird Observatory, and is an honorary lifetime member of the American Ornithological Society. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy from Boise State University. In 2016, he wrote about how the Migratory Bird Treaty Act can finally become an effective tool for conserving birds.