6 Destinations for Birders
Not to pigeonhole places, but these six destinations across the United States and Canada are for the birders in your group.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Port Lavaca, Texas
There are only 250 whooping cranes left in the world, and 100 of them are usually at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge between mid-October and early April, visiting from breeding sites in Alberta, Canada. Visitors can view the cranes at a distance, by boat. They'll also find sandhill cranes, herons, egrets, terns and more during winter.
New York City, New York
Pigeons are underrated. They also aren't the only bird groups will find in Manhattan's green sanctuary. Migratory birds flock to Central Park in spring and fall as they work their routes. On a good day, birders can find 70-plus species, among them thrushes, vireos, warblers, orioles and tanagers. Peak season for birds is late April through May; The Ramble on the park's north side lures most of them.
Everglades National Park
Birds wade and feed in the swampy, gator-infested waters of the Everglades. More than 360 different species of birds have been sighted in the park—wading, land and birds of prey alike. Travelers will find wood storks, great egrets, roseate spoonbills and more. There are plenty of bird watching spots to observe and photograph.
George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary
Vancouver, British Columbia
George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary's 850 acres of wetlands, natural marshes and low dykes in the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area provide refuge for millions of birds during their annual migrations along the Pacific Coast. Up to 80,000 snow geese spend the winter in this coastal marsh, but more than 240 species have been sighted, including the Saw-Whet owl, golden eagle and red-throated loon.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary located along the Kittatinny Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains is one of the best places to view the annual autumn hawk migration, plus other birds of prey like eagles and falcons. The visitor center and trails are open daily to the public.
Witless Bay Ecological Reserve
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
See seabirds at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. The area is home to North America's largest Atlantic puffin colony and the world's second-largest Leach's storm-petrel colony. Approximately 260,000 pairs of puffins and more than 620,000 pairs of Leach's storm-petrels nest in the reserve. Black-legged kittiwakes and common mures also appear in the thousands. For the most part, public observation is limited to boats—and several tour boat companies operate out of the communities near the islands.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.
Photo Courtesy of National Park Service.