The art of bird watching is not one reserved for the khaki-wearing, nature-scientist, binocular-donning and adventure backpacking population of the United States. Rather it is one of the joys of this world to be enjoyed by whosoever wishes to partake in the beauty of God’s creation. That having been said, where exactly is the best place to fully maximize on your bird watching experience?
When looking for a place to go bird watching, the criteria you should utilize to make your decision should focus on getting to view as many species of birds as possible, while in their natural environment. These two criteria are important as by viewing many different species, you get to experience the diversity of the bird species and as such not get bored by looking at the same bird the whole day; also, observing birds in their natural environment is where the appeal of bird watching lies. There are ten locations that top the list when it comes to bird watching in Arizona, Alaska, Maryland, Maine, Kansas, Florida, North Carolina, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
- The Southeastern area of Arizona is a hot spot for bird watchers. It has a number of places where you could go bird watching, such as the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, Cave Creek (also simply known as the Chiricahua Mountains), Madera Canyon, the Sonoita Creek and Ramsey Canyon. The Chiricahua Mountains are an attraction in themselves, with their appearance being that of huge islands rising up from the flat desert like ground to a much cooler and wetter altitude. These mountains are home to the exotic bird known as the elegant Trogon; as well as various species of owls and rare hummingbirds such as the Elf, Spotted, Whiskered Screech owls and the Buff-collared Nightjar hummingbird respectively. Other species such as sparrows and woodpeckers inhabit the lower altitude regions of the mountains.
- The Copper River Delta region in North America’s Alaska region is usually flocked with approximately six million birds during the months of April and May. These six million birds represent the largest gathering of shorebirds in the entire North American region, additionally; the Delta is a major worldwide attraction, so you are sure to enjoy more than just the birds. The Aleutian Islands also host a large species of Asian wanderers during the months of May and June.
- The main bird watching hot spot in Maryland is the Assateague Island National Seashore. The region is famous for its wild horses and springtime arrival of migrating birds. The Island National authorities allow Backcountry camping, and most of the camping sites are surrounded by nature trails that lead straight into great spots for viewing herons, egrets, pelicans, clapper rails, osprey, loons, American Oystercatchers and many songbird species.
- Maine hosts the world recognized Acadia National Park which is home to approximately 250 different species of birds. The Park is located along the region’s rugged coastline whose high and rugged cliffs act as the nesting ground for countless shorebirds. The best time to go bird watching in this region is during the months of May to September. The main species to watch out for while in this area are: the Yellow bellied and Alder flycatchers, the blue-headed Vireo, the ruby crowned Kinglet and the Swainson’s thrush.
- Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, located in the south-central area of Kansas, is the habitat for almost half of the entire North American shorebird population between the months of March and May. The shorebird population migrates over the marshes, the grasslands and sand hills in the Wildlife area. Between the months of March and May, various shorebird species, namely: the white-rumped sandpipers, the black-necked stilts, the ruddy ducks, the piping plovers and the Gadwall can be found in large numbers within the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.
- The chain of islands that span around 150 miles between Florida and Mississippi, more particularly between the Cat Island and the Santa Rosa Island, is one of the major pit stops for migrating birds. The region is a famous backpacking stop for tourists and offers primitive camping sites and several trails through white beaches, coastal marshes and dense oak plantations. During the early spring and fall seasons one may spot pelicans and painted buntings in the midst of their migration. Other bird watching hot spots in Florida include the J.N. Ding-Darling Wildlife Refuge and Sanibel.
- For the lovers of herons, egrets, ibis, terns, piping plovers and gulls, Cape Lookout National Seashore is the best place to view them. Located approximately three miles from the North Carolina Mainland near Morehead City, the Cape Lookout National Seashore is located on the chain of islands and swamplands that constitute the 88.5 km long national seashore. The area is also frequented by migrating ducks and geese during winter.
- The Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge located in New Mexico along the dried up Rio Grande is the ideal place for bird watching wintering species such as the ducks, geese, sandhill cranes and waders. The area is characterized by dykes, in which water has been collected thus making it ideal for the mentioned species. The area hosts up to 350 different species.
- Pennsylvanian bird watchers get to enjoy hawk sightings along the Appalachian Trail, which is famous in the region for hiking. The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary located along the trail is a point at which crosswinds in the Pennsylvania area slam against each other creating an updraft on which the hawks soar. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary can have up to 5000 hawk sightings a day.
- Virginia, the last but not least of the best bird watching locations in the US, is host to the Shenandoah National Park and the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory. Shenandoah National Park is home to the black and white warbler, the white breasted nuthatch, the hooded warbler, the cedar waxwing and the towhee, among other exotic species. By the month of March you can find these birds in Virginia and as the year progresses, other species will continue to come to the area; with most of the inflow being in the months of April and May. The Hanging Rock Observatory on the other hand is the greatest spot for viewing different species of hawks as well as bald eagles.