There are many amazing places to go birding throughout the United States, but there are a few places you should definitely not pass up. We have listed some of those top hot spots for bird watching and gorgeous places to visit as you are birding. Many of these places are key stopovers for migrating birds, making these spots extra special during spring and winter seasons. And these spots may be home to some bird species that just might be a that once-in-a-lifetime bird you’ve been waiting for.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas
The sound of an endangered whooping crane can be heard across the far reaches of the marsh. Only at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge do North America's tallest birds find a winter stronghold. In addition, you will be pleasantly surprised to see, pelicans, herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, ducks, and geese dine in brackish waters and salt marshes teeming with fishes, blue crabs, and clams. On shore, javelinas, bobcats and deer also wander the oak woodlands. You should also see Alligators peering from still waters of ponds and sloughs. Ringed by tidal marshes and broken by long, narrow sloughs, this 59,000-acres refuge sprawls mostly across the Blackjack peninsula, where grasslands, live oaks, and redbay thickets cover deep sandy soils. Years of storms and waters of the Gulf of Mexico constantly reshape this vital refuge that’s home to over 390 different bird species.
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Magee Marsh - Ohio
This area has nine miles of public trails and a kiosk in the parking lot that has maps and bird checklists. Walk north on the trail and you will reach Crane Creek and its estuary. This amazing place offers Ducks, shorebirds, marsh birds, wading birds and some perching birds that can be viewed in the impoundments along the way. The Crane Creek estuary is the best place to see both adult and immature Bald Eagles. Although woodlands are scarce there are two woodlots that provide warblers, vireos and other perching birds during migration.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Florida
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and its 2.5-mile boardwalk are most famous for their nesting wood storks but there is much more to see here. Another 200 bird species, including the largest of Florida's common woodpeckers, the pileated, with its red crest and black and white feather pattern. Cardinals are also common, and look for white ibis, green herons, anhingas, great blue herons and limpkins. Other winter visitors include catbirds, phoebes and ruby-crowned ringlets.
And don't overlook the guided walks that include early bird walks, old growth forest walks and swamp slogs through the remarkable area.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
This refuge is best known for the enormous congregations of migrating sandhill cranes. There is even a four-day festival in November celebrating their migration. But the beautiful Sandhill Crane certainly isn't the only reason why birders from all over arrive in droves to the desert oasis. The beautiful refuge serves as a stopping ground for some 377 species. Waterbirds including ducks and geese, and terrestrial birds including Gambel's quail, roadrunners and pheasants are commonly spotted. Raptors can be spied hunting for prey, including bald eagles, golden eagles, northern harriers and several species of hawks and falcons. Songbirds are abundant as are gulls. And of course, the scenery is second to none.
Monterey Bay, California
Known mostly for whale watching, sea otter spotting, and home to one of the best aquariums in the nation, Monterey Bay is also a must-visit for birders. Off the coast, one can spot black-footed albatross, tufted puffins, jaegers, shearwaters and alcid. Closer to shore, birders can also see California condors, Townsend’s warblers, snowy plovers and cormorants. Wintering shorebirds are found by the thousands during migration season, as well as warblers and passerines. The abundance and diversity of birds in Monterey is as rich as that of the underwater marine life for which the bay is famous. Planning your trip around the Monterey Bay Birding Festival in September is a great way to join in on events with other birders and check dozens of species off your life list.
Florida Wildlife Viewing, 10 Best, Mother Nature Network
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