With millions of birds everywhere, finding birds is thankfully, pretty easy. Here is a list of some of my personal favorite places to watch/photograph birds.
1. Your Own Backyard
Plant some bird-friendly bushes/flowers, set up a small bird bath, add a feeder or two and you’re soon going to find lots of birds in your backyard. Check with your local Audubon to find suggestions for the best plants. Also find out what kinds of birds you may see and ask for suggested feed. You can’t go wrong with suet or cracked corn.
Just make sure to keep the feeder and bird bath clean.
2. Southeastern Arizona
Arizona has many notable birding hotpots including Madera Canyon, Saguaro National Park, and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon is one of the best hummingbird spots in North America. And the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a great place to watch birds in one of their aviary enclosures.
3. St. Augustine Alligator Farm – St. Augustine, FL
While the entire state of Florida is great for birding, the Alligator Farm is a special place because each spring, a rookery located inside the park hosts all sorts of wading birds that are nesting and raising their young. The alligators act as a protective barrier – eating most of the creatures that typically prey on the bird’s eggs. Accordingly, the birds build their nests above the alligator habitat to increase the chances that their chicks will survive.
(Also visit Gatorland near Orlando for a similar experience.
4. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Bosque is a desert oasis in central New Mexico near the town of Socorro. It’s world-renowned as the home of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. With 30,000 acres of wilderness bordered by the Chupadera Mountains and the Magdalenas it’s a great birding spot year-round, but late fall and early winter will be the best times to find lots of geese and cranes.
5. Kachemak Bay State Park and State Wilderness Park – Home, AK
Home to tons of bald eagles, and lots of different sea birds. In the winter, eagles rule the roost here while in summer, you’ll find tens of thousands of kittiwakes. Homer, AK is the best jumping off point and it doesn’t really matter where you go inside the bay, you will find birds. Renting a boat or taking a paid boat excursion here is a good investment.
If you have time and money and want to visit more birding areas, try these:
*Cape May, New Jersey
Birding is spectacular here at the southern tip of New Jersey.
*Sanibel Island, Florida
Set just off the coast, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is known for its remarkable wading birds.
*Point Reyes National Seashore, California
More than 460 species – nearly half the entire North American total can be seen here.
*Crane Creek State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio
The birding hotspots here are located along the Lake Erie coast.
*Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Hawks, Raptors, Golden-Winged Warblers, Tropical Parulas, American Redstart, and Yellow-Breasted Chats. Need I say more?
* Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania
The name says it all! This birding site in central Pennsylvania is perfect for watching southbound hawks and eagles. It also is a historic site thanks to conservationists buying the land in 1930s and ending the slaughter of hawks.
If none of these spots trips your trigger, try the Audubon Important Bird Area List. And remember – a “bad” day birding is better than a “great day” doing almost anything else.
Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.