Big Meadow Lake

By Hal Opperman

The Site

Surrounded by boreal forest of Engelmann spruce, Douglas-fir, and lodgepole pine, 72-acre Big Meadow Lake is situated at a divide in the Selkirk Mountains at an elevation of 3,440 feet.

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The Birds

Snags emerging from the peaty shallows at the lake's east end host cavity-nesters such as Bufflehead, Barrow's and Common Goldeneyes, and Tree Swallow. Red-necked Grebes nest on floating vegetation. Ospreys fish in the lake, and Yellow and MacGillivray's Warblers are common near its marshy, willow- and alder-lined edges. In the breeding season, look and listen for Warbling Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes, and Northern Waterthrush in mixed woodlands near the shore. Extensive wet meadows and marshes at the outlet (west) end of the lake have Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Yellowthroat, and Lincoln's Sparrow. Typical birds of the upland conifer forest include American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, and Yellow-rumped and Townsend's Warblers.

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Directions and Suggestions

From Route 20 at the east edge of Colville, drive north on the Colville-Aladdin-Northport Road for about 20 miles to Meadow Creek Road (brown sign). Turn right onto this gravel road and continue for about six miles to the entrance to the USFS campground at Big Meadow Lake, on your right. If you are coming from Ione, go west on Smackout Pass Road for about 2.5 miles, then left on Meadow Road for another 5.5 miles to the campground entrance. Several trails departing from the campground offer fine birding, including one that encircles the lake. Big Meadow Lake is a popular destination for recreationists. Your birding experience will be more tranquil on weekdays and in the early-morning hours.

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References

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