By Hicham Aboutaam
Anyone who is a bird lover and an avid birdwatcher undoubtedly already has the Adirondacks on their bucket list. There are over 100 species of birds in the Adirondacks and the chance to enjoy everything from boreal birds and birds of prey to perching birds and waterfowl. The area is a feast for the eyes and the other senses. For the uninitiated, or the person who has not yet had the chance to enjoy birdwatching in the area, here is a quick guide to experiences I have had and advice I’ve garnered over time.
When should I birdwatch in the Adirondacks?
Of course, the best answer to this question is that you should go whenever you can! Obviously, there is always an opportunity to witness beautiful birds and to enjoy the natural surroundings in the Adirondacks at any point. The answer to this question includes various factors. If you love certain types of birds over others, then you’ll want to know when the best chance to see those species is. The spring and summer are filled with warblers, upland birds and wetland birds. In the spring and fall you’ll enjoy transients such as the American wigeon, the black scoter and the green-winged teal. The winter in the Adirondacks is a majestic time to see everything from the morning dove and the sharp-shinned hawk to the pine siskin and the great scaup. The Adirondack Ecological Center has created an impressive and highly useful chart that shows when each bird species is typically seen in the area.
Where should I birdwatch in the Adirondacks?
With such a large area of natural habitat, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. There are many places to bird watch, and you’ll be guaranteed to enjoy the beautiful surroundings from any of them – so don’t worry about making the wrong choice. Here is an explanation of four of the best locations for birdwatching in the area. I’ve always loved the Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area which is a natural wetland with over 2000 acres that makes the ideal location for nesting birds. You can spot turkeys, grouse, waterfowl, march birds and songbirds here. The Moose River Plans Complex has many trails and areas to explore, the most interesting of which is the Cedar River Flow. At this lake, you can paddle out into the wilderness and observe loons, ospreys and mergansers, while in the bog habitats you’ll find boreal chickadee and wood warblers. For a really different experience, ride on the gondola and then take a small hike at Gore Mountain to see the boreal forest species. Finally, if you haven’t gone to Moreau Lake State Park yet, this could be the best place to start. There are 20 miles of hiking trails here and you can see everything from bald eagles and wood thrushes to rose-breasted grosbeaks. As you plan a trip, grab a copy of the Adirondack Birding booklet put out by the Adirondack Mountain Club. This guide includes sixty locations where you can either walk or paddle to observe birds and is a great starting point for any birdwatcher.
Birding Festivals and Events
When planning your trip to the Adirondacks, keep in mind that there are quite a few festivals during the spring that are worth joining. The Great Adirondack Birding Celebration takes place at the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center where local experts will teach you about birds and take you out in the early morning for amazing experiences. The Adirondack Birding Festival in Hamilton County is another amazing opportunity for workshops and exhibits about bird photography, owl rehabilitation and rescue, moose tracking and so much more. There is also the Great Camp Sagamore which hosts an Elderhostel event, Boreal Birds of the Adirondacks. Here, people can enjoy lodging, meals, lectures and field trips for an unforgettable birding experience.
Tours and Guiding Assistance
If all of this sounds exciting, but a bit overwhelming, never fear! There are many tour groups and organizations that can help you to enjoy the Adirondacks without having to create your own itinerary or sign up for a festival. Here are just a few suggestions for places to get started. The Adirondack Avian Expeditions group is highly trained and professional. They offer full day, half day and multi-day packages. They also have nocturnal outings, which I highly recommend as an entirely different way to experience the outdoors and the birds that live there. Another great suggestion is to join John and Pat Thaxton on one of their birding tours. They’ve been birdwatching and leading tours for decades in the Adirondacks and create a beautiful experience with their expertise.
The Adirondacks offer over six million acres of gorgeous land to explore. The Adirondacks Park is actually the largest publicly protected area in the continental United States. It is certainly a place to visit – and it’s important to point out that it’s a place for everyone to visit. There are many wheelchair friendly locations, trails and lodges, as highlighted by this very comprehensive blog post. Come and enjoy what nature has to offer, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful birds of the Adirondacks.
Birder at Washington County Grasslands provided by DEC