Top 8 Bird Watching Destinations in the USA

Bird collage from Wendy Gold

Birds are everywhere. You see and hear them every day. But how much do you know about them? Did you know that there are about 10,000 species of birds? And that they live in numerous habitats on all seven continents of the earth? If you did, you are probably a birdwatcher. If you didn’t, maybe it is time to start birding! And, when you get back, you can add some pins to your Wendy Gold push pin globes and maps. We have many options featuring birds, flora, and fauna from around the US.

Below we have listed our 8 favorite bird watching destinations from all over the USA. From New York to California, and from National Parks to sanctuaries, our list brings you to many different states and locales for the best bird viewing opportunities. Grab your binoculars and bird feeders and let’s hit the road!

1. Southeastern Arizona

State Bird: Cactus Wren

The southeastern corner of Arizona is home to, at a minimum, 24 noteworthy birding hotspots. Standouts include Saguaro National Park, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, and Cave Creek Canyon.

Located just south of Tucson and east of Interstate 19, and the best time to visit is April through September. The birds to look out for include Painted Redstart, Elegant Trogon, Gray Hawks, Mexican Jay, and dozens of hummingbird species.

2. Cape May, New Jersey

State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch

From shorebirds munching on horseshoe crab eggs, to hawkwatching, birding at Cape May, New Jersey can be quite a treat. Along with the bird life, there are lots of programs offered: Cape May Spring Weekend, Cape May Fall Weekend, World Series of Birding, to name just a few.

Cape May is located at the far southern tip of New Jersey. Its best birding season is May and early June, and September and October. Keep an eye out for warblers, hawks, shorebirds, swallows, sparrows, waterfowl, buntings, and wrens.

3. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

State Bird: Mockingbird

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge attracts around 300 bird species. Each year more than 800,000 nature lovers visit the refuge. One of the main attractions is Wildlife Drive - a five-mile, one-way road which allows birdwatchers to see all the species right from their car.

The best time to visit Ding, which is 20 miles southwest of Fort Meyers on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is December through April. Birds to watch out for include Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Mangrove Cuckoo, White Ibis, and much more.

4. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York

State Bird: Bluebird

Believe it or not, there is some good birdwatching in New York City. Located near JFK International Airport (yes, you read that correctly), Jamaica Bay is home to 330 species, which includes 72 nesting species. It has been named a globally important bird area designation. The bay’s quiet natural beauty is known to be a great escape for local New Yorkers.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is on Crossbay Blvd near JFK International Airport. April and May is peak migration period. Birding is great all year round. Keep an eye out for Brant, Snow Goose, Tricolored Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Osprey, owls, warblers, and shorebirds.

5. Arcadia National Park, Maine

State Bird: Chickadee

Comprised of tidal pools, jagged shorelines, lakes, streams, and the only fjord one will find in eastern North America, Arcadia National Park attracts around 325 bird species all through the year. A New Jersey bird watcher reported hearing a Hermit Thrush and a White-throated Sparrow singing.

Arcadia National Park is off the coast of Maine, next to the village of Bar Harbor. Songbirds are spotted during the spring and summer, while seabirds and waterfowl are out and about during the winter.

6. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania

State Bird: Ruffed Grouse

In the 1930s, conservationists bought the land that now makes Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. This purchase brought an end to the annual slaughter of hawks. Now birdwatchers congregate here each fall and see 20,000 birds of prey fly past the North Lookout.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is located in eastern Pennsylvania, just north of Hamburg. September and October are great months for hawk migration. Late spring and early summer are better for watching nesting songbirds. Other birds to watch for are kestrels and eagles and southbound raptors.

7. Big Bend National Park, Texas

State Bird: Mockingbird

To say Big Bend National Park is off the beaten path is an understatement. The nearest cities - El Paso and San Antonio - are a several-hour drive away. All birdwatchers who have visited this National Park will tell you it is worth the effort. Within Big Bend is the Chisos Mountains and the northern Chihuahuan Desert.

Late August through mid October and mid April through May are the prime seasons for migration. Birds you will see include Montezuma Quail, Colima Warbler, Common Black Hawk, and a few hundred other species.

8. Monterey Bay, California

State Bird: California Valley Quail

Monterey Bay lies along the central California coast. This 30-mile stretch of land is known for its high count of wintering birds. Some birders claim to have seen up to 100 species on certain winter days.

Monterey Bay is located 90 miles south of San Francisco, along the California coast. The best time to visit is October through April. Birds to look for include Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross, Anna’s Hummingbird, shore birds, water birds, Wandering Tattler, and more.

Perfect Gifts for a Bird-Watcher from Wendy Gold Studios

From this list, you can see that birdwatchers travel to many states and lots of national parks. Yes, birders take pictures and keep journals of their trips. California artist, Wendy Gold, has an additional way to document your birding trips: push pin maps. Gold offers a Road Trip USA Map with Push Pins for the birder going state to state. A National Parks USA Push Pin Map is available for the birdwatcher who likes to visit national parks. Included with the map are 100 push pins which let you record each destination visited. The maps can be personalized with a family name or the name of your birding group. These push pin maps are a great gift choice for anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and more.

Whether purchased for yourself or your favorite bird watcher, these push pin maps make great gifts for documenting your travels and inspiring future adventures.

Birdwatching study for collage art by Wendy Gold

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