Spring is an ideal time to observe bird migrations. New York is conveniently located along the Atlantic Flyway, one of the main migration routes. This provides a great opportunity to observe birds flying to their summer breeding grounds.
Here’s a few resources to get you started:
Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities. The I Bird NY website provides suggestions on how to start birding and resources to learn what species to look for, and where and when to do so. Birders can watch from their windows and identify the feathered friends that visit.
For an additional challenge, birders can open their windows and listen for bird calls to identify birds by sound and use the Audubon Guide to North American Birds or us the Merlin Bird ID app to help with visual or audio identification.
Early spring is the perfect time of year to start birding because it is easier to spot birds in trees with no leaves and the spring migration is accelerating in the northern U.S. You can follow real-time bird migration forecasts, at BirdCast from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Birders can start a life list with eBird to keep track of the 450+ different species seen in New York and share discoveries with friends on social media using the hashtags #RecreateLocal and #IBirdNY.
In addition, New Yorkers are encouraged to contribute to the third New York State Bird Breeding Atlas. Citizen science volunteers are aiding a comprehensive statewide survey that takes place every two decades to detail New York’s breeding bird distribution.
The Breeding Bird Atlas provides valuable data that helps determine population trends, climate change impacts, habitat loss and other factors on bird populations. To participate, volunteers can make a free eBird account and submit data online through the atlas website or via the eBird mobile app. Simply record the species and any breeding behaviors observed. All sightings can count. As observations are reported, data can be viewed on the Breeding Bird Atlas website.
While bird watching can easily be done from almost any window, doorway, back yard or neighborhood, those located near the following areas can still get outside and #RecreateLocal:
Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Cayuga, Seneca, Wayne Counties — a stopover for many species of ducks who are headed farther north. You can see shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds at this WMA.
Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Cayuga and Seneca Counties — an endless list of birds can be seen here.
Braddock Bay WMA, Monroe County — find waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds.
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Genesee and Orleans Counties — see many species of waterfowl.
Derby Hill Bird Observatory, Oswego County — known for migrating hawks.
Bashakill WMA, Orange County — view hawks, marshbirds, and waterfowl.
Central Park, NYC — see warblers, in addition to many other species.
Photo of bird watcher provided by DEC.