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 YouTube video on layering for winter, and read up on some of our winter hiking safety tips that can be used for any outdoor trip.
Check out the New York State Birding Trail to find locations across the state to go birding.
Photo of barred owl by Fred McCagg. Photo courtesy of the NYS DEC.