While the chilliest months of the year may seem like the hardest time to venture outdoors, it can be a great time to go birding. Layer up and head out to your backyard, local park, or other public space and observe some of the bird species that you may not normally see during warmer months. Winter raptors (PDF) including snowy owls (PDF), short-eared owls, barn owls, and hawks migrate south from the Canadian tundra and can be observed near open bodies of water and large grasslands. Some species of woodpeckers may be easier to hear or see in their winter homes. Black-capped chickadees remain in Northern climates due to their ability to survive the ultra-cold weather. Winter is also the best time to observe bald eagles!
Use a website like eBird to see what species have been detected near you. The free Merlin Bird ID app can help you identify unfamiliar birds and add even more new species to your lists.
If you do brave the cold and snow, properly preparing for winter conditions is essential for a more enjoyable and safe experience. Check out our latest YouTube video on layering for winter, and read up on some of our winter hiking safety tips that can be for any outdoor trip.
Stay tuned for future announcements on the New York State Birding Trail to find locations across the state to go birding.
Photo of grosbeaks by Randy Fredlund.
https://groups.io/g/NNYBirds is also a good source of info and records for Northern New York.
“…. hawks migrate south from the Canadian tundra and can be observed near open bodies of water and large grasslands.”
> Yes! I saw one just the other day on the side of the Northway all in a heap atop a pile of snow, its feathers all ruffled up, dead as a door-nail I’m guessing. Were I to hit one of these beautiful specimens I would stop, retrieve it, and try to get it help, versus leaving it there to die by its lonesome. We’re all different I suppose! This is not an uncommon sight to see alongside our speedways as I see dead hawks, and other of the feathered tribe, not infrequently. Whether this was a Canadian hawk or an American hawk I will never know, but it most certainly was an American casualty….to add to the list.