Birding in the Adirondacks

Birding in the Adirondacks

It's time to grab your binoculars, telephoto lenses, and sense of adventure! Birding in the Adirondacks is exciting and unique with such a diversity of species and habitats. Whether you're looking to add to your "life list" or revisit old favorites, a bird for everyone can be found here.

On the fly

Birding in the Adirondacks is not limited to one season. All four seasons offer something different. Spring and fall are especially dramatic, with birds returning, leaving, or passing through the region. Maybe you'll spot a Snow Goose near Malone or one of eighteen species of warblers at Massawepie Mire near Tupper Lake. Summer is typically a quieter season, but tweets can still be heard from locals, such as Black-capped Chickadees or American Bitterns. As the snow falls, hardy residents remain at many Adirondack locations. You'll likely see and hear Pileated Woodpeckers, Bohemian Waxwings, and Snow Buntings. During winter months on the shore of Lake Champlain, many raptors, ducks, and other aquatic birds take advantage of the open waters and typically less harsh weather. 

Birds of a feather

Being home to so many incredible bird species, it only makes sense the Adirondacks are home to one amazing birding festival each year and plenty of other guided trips and outings throughout the area! In June, avian species have arrived back to the region and, in the heart of the Adirondacks, Hamilton County is a great location to see many of them. Each year, the Hamilton County Department of Tourism and Audubon NY host the Hamilton County Birding Festival. The best part -- aside from seeing birds, of course -- is that this is a free event! Registration is required and space is limited, but each outdoor activity is led by a knowledgable guide so you don't want to miss this event. A variety of habitats and terrains are covered, so you have the chance to see everything from Cap May Warblers to Bald Eagles.

Just wingin' it

With vast tracts of public land, there is no shortage of excellent birding locations in the Adirondacks. There are a few iconic species that are "must sees" for any birder! 

  • Common Loon. This bird is a true symbol of wild nature. The loon's eerie wails echoing across open waters makes for a true Adirondack experience. These birds can be found throughout the Adirondacks on the many lakes and ponds that dot the landscape. For a truly wild experience, look for loons deep in the St. Regis Canoe Area near Saranac Lake.
  • Bicknell's Thrush. In the summer months, in alpine areas typically characterized by unforgiving weather and stunted vegetation, the Bicknell's Thrush thrives in high mountain climates. This bird migrates to the tallest peaks during breeding season and it's fluting song can be heard drifting out from dense tangles of balsam firs. Birders will need to travel above 3,000-feet in elevation to find this bird, so using the Whiteface Mountain Veterans' Memorial Highway is a perfect corridor as an alternative to bushwhacking through the often impenetrable krummholz. Blue Mountain, towering above the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, is home to the second largest population of Bicknell's Thrush. Hike up to the summit to discover many high elevation birds!
  • Canada Jay. A playful trail companion, the Canada Jay will surely bring a smile to any birders face, although their friendliness often is accompanied by loud demands for human food! Frequently seen swooping through the boreal forests, these birds are fun to watch during winter months. Did you know Canada Jays build their nests and raise their young in the winter? When other species are just starting to nest, Canada Jay chicks are already born! You can find these spirited birds around the Adirondacks. Great locations are: Ferd's Bog, Cedar River Flow, and the Bloomingdale Bog.

The best part about birding is that you never know what you're going to see. In the past, a Ross's Gull was spotted in Tupper Lake and Great Gray Owls have been known to make appearances around the Adirondacks. Start planning your Adirondack birding trip today!

  • Adirondack Boreal Birding FestivalJoin us in the heart of the Adirondacks, for birding hikes, walks, safaris, outings, and seminars throughout Hamilton County. All field trips are free!Learn more here
  • An amazing time of year!There is great fall birding in the Champlain Valley! After all, fall migration stretches from mid-late summer straight up until winter, and it brings with it an endless stream of arriving and passing birds.Let's go!