This site supports several assemblages of birds associated with rare or declining habitat types including shrub-steppe, riparian, and mature coniferous forest. The diverse habitat supports numerous high-priority bird species, including several state or federal candidate species: Golden Eagle, Flammulated Owl (unconfirmed but highly probable), Vaux's Swift, Lewis's Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Sage Thrasher, Northern Goshawk, and Loggerhead Shrike. The latter two are listed as species of concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In winter, Bald Eagles use the area at the mouth of Umtanum Creek along the Yakima River.
The area is also within or at the edge of the historic breeding range of the Ferruginous Hawk, Sage Grouse, Long-billed Curlew, Spotted Owl, and Burrowing Owl, which are no longer here but could repopulate the area. Other species associated with basalt rimrock and cliffs that have healthy populations here include Prairie Falcon, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, and Canyon Wren.
Umtanum Creek Valley serves as a corridor between two other IBAs: Yakima Canyon and Wenas Basin/Clemans Mountain.