It’s spring and the tulips are blooming, the sun is shining, and the air is filled with the sound of chirping birds. Birdwatching, or birding, can be exciting and rewarding if you have a sharp eye – and if you know where to look.
So just where should you go to see all sorts of birds? Geography and habit both play an important role in where birds go and where it’s easy to see them! Here are ten great places for birdwatching in spring!
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge in Marble Falls, Texas offers 27,500 acres to protect wildlife. In addition to the beautiful wildflower fields, there are over 240 bird species that make the refuge their home throughout the year. You’ll have the opportunity to look for golden-cheeked warblers, which are endangered, black-capped vireos, which are rare, painted buntings, Bewick’s wren, and many other beautiful species of birds.
If you’ve got the time in March, head to the Platte River in central Nebraska to see the migration of more than 500,000 sandhill cranes. Because it’s still early spring, you should definitely wear layers if you decide to try and spot the cranes at this spot!
Head to Delaware Bay in early May to watch thousands of shorebirds flock to the beach. What are they after? The answer is a snack – horseshoe crab eggs, to be specific, which the mothers bury in the sand and the shorebirds snack on during their migration.
You’ll also have the chance to see ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, and sandpipers. The shorebirds’ migration is one of the longest, as they travel 9,000 miles from the southern tip of South America all the way to the Canadian Arctic.
Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
Travel up the north bank of the Missouri River to try birdwatching for shorebirds, waders, and mostly waterfowl. You’ll probably see night herons and bitterns at Eagle Bluffs, too. If you really want to see eagles, wait for the winter.
But if you come in the spring, with 4,700 acres of both swamp and marshland, you’ll have plenty of flora to look at while you’re birdwatching. This refuge also offers opportunities to spot a variety of species of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.
Paton Center for Hummingbirds
At the Paton Center, feeders attract a variety of hummingbirds, and spring is one of the best times to see these small fast-winged birds. The Paton Center was originally a private home, but it is now managed by the Tucson Audubon Society.
What’s extra special about this particular spot is that you may have the chance to see a violet-crowned hummingbird, which is rare and difficult to find in the U.S.A. Plan to visit between March and May or August and October.
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Head to Magee Marsh in northwest Ohio east of Toledo to watch for – and listen to – a variety of warblers. One Birds and Blooms writer stated, “After just walking 25 feet on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, I already had 10 warbler species. After three hours of enjoying the spectacle, I had seen 22 warblers and 60 total species. I’ve been visiting the area for nearly 15 years, and this was by far the best day I have ever experienced there!”
Point Reyes National Seashore
Drive about an hour north of San Francisco to find one of the best places on the West Coast to spot migratory birds: Point Reyes National Seashore. About half the species of known birds in North America will visit Point Reyes, but keep out for the threatened species of the snowy plover and the northern spotted owl.
Big Oak Tree State Park
Travel back to Missouri to Big Oak Tree State Park, located in East Prairie, Missouri, in the Mississippi River Lowlands. You’ll be able to see black vultures and fish crows year-round, but during the summer and possibly the spring, you may be able to see yellow-throated warblers, Mississippi kite, and northern parula.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
In Kempton, Pennsylvania, you’ll find Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, which Is a 2,500-acre protected territory. Hawk Mountain is one of the world’s oldest wildlife sanctuaries that’s exclusively dedicated to protecting and observing birds of prey. You’ll have the opportunity to birdwatch for sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, American kestrel, bald eagles, golden eagles, northern harriers, and ospreys.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Head north to Rochert, Minnesota to find Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, which is 42,724 acres and an important sanctuary and breeding ground for both resident and migratory birds.
From mid-May to mid-June, you can try to spot warblers, waterfowl, and raptors. The refuge is also a sanctuary for golden-winged warblers, yellow-headed blackbirds, red crossbills, and ovenbirds. About 25 warbler species can also be spotted each spring, and you may also be able to spot gorgeous trumpeter swans!