Topic: Things to Do

The 5 Best Birdwatching Spots in New England

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Snowy OwlTim Gallagher, editor-in-chief of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Living Bird magazine and author of numerous books, including The Grail Bird: The Rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, shares his picks for the five best birdwatching spots in New England.

Acadia National Park
You’ll find 47,000 acres of coastline, lakes, marsh ponds, forests, and streams to explore–and Cadillac Mountain. With its great diversity of plant and animal life and a 338-bird checklist, this is the place to be: warblers, waterfowl, shorebirds, forest birds, and raptors. Mount Desert Island, ME. 207-288-3338; nps.gov/acad/index.htm

Baxter State Park
At more than 200,000 acres, it’s a vast area, home to Mount Katahdin and four distinct climatic zones supporting hardwoods, boreal forests, and alpine tundra vegetation. Above 3,000 feet, it’s the place to see Bicknell’s thrush. An amazing amount of bird life here, from waterfowl to warblers to crossbills. Millinocket, ME. 207-723-5140; baxterstateparkauthority.com

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
This feeding, resting, and nesting place for migrant waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds lies along the Atlantic Flyway. The southern two-thirds of Plum Island, at 4,660 acres, is a bird magnet, attracting more than 300 species. Newburyport, MA. 978-465-5753; fws.gov/northeast/parkerriver

Outer Cape
Encompassing Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, this is a beautiful place to see herons, waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, piping plovers, and terns. Spring and fall migrations often bring rarely seen species to South Monomoy Island. Wellfleet & Chatham, MA. 508-771-2144, nps.gov/caco; 508-349-2615, massaudubon.org; 508-945-0594, fws.gov/northeast/monomoy

Odiorne Point State Park
This 330-acre area is the former site of 19th-century estates and World War II-era Fort Dearborn. Habitats include tidepools, salt marshes, and forestlands. An ocean jetty and overgrown bunkers add variety. It’s a great fall raptor migration spot, where you can see peregrine, merlin, kestrel, Cooper’s, and sharp-shinned species. Warblers visit in the spring, and rafts of waterfowl gather here in the winter. Rye, NH. 603-436-7406; nhstateparks.org

Read Tim’s 5 honorable mentions for Best Birding Hot-Spots.


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