Have you ever thought to do some birdwatching while you backpack, but you’re not quite sure where to start? North America is a diverse place when it comes to wildlife, and what you see in one area might be completely different from what you see in another. If you’ve never given this enjoyable hobby a chance, then there’s no time like the present. Next time you hike, consider visiting these places to catch some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful winged creatures.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Why: Down in the Everglades, the land is undeveloped by humans, making it a wonderful home for a variety of bird species to thrive. While many live here all year round, the climate and ecology is different from other parts of the States, attracting birds from all over during the migratory season. Not only that, but the Everglades is a great place to hike and see all kinds of species, not just birds. Many of these species are critically endangered, so please be respectful of their home while you take part in all the outdoor activities available here.
When: You can birdwatch here anytime, but you’ll see more during spring and summer.
What to look out for: Bald eagles, ospreys, pileated woodpeckers, swallow tailed kites, and flamingos.
The Sierra Vista, Arizona
Why: Southern Arizona is a great place for bird enthusiasts and hikers alike, and the Sierra Vista is the best of the best. The climate here is ideal for backpacking trips and the large area is home to part of the 800+ mile Arizona Trail, too. The Ramsey Canyon Oreserve or the Coronado National Forest is an awesome place to get started, here in the “Hummingbird Capital of the US”…can you guess why it’s called that?
What to look out for: Over 15 species of beautiful, colorful hummingbirds, as well as wrens, quail, cuckoos, and blackbirds, and more. Many bird species native to Mexico can be found here as well.
Cape May Point State Park, New Jersey
Why: Cape May is a little more quaint than the larger national parks in the west, ensuring you can get some peace and quiet while you connect with nature and do some serious birdwatching. This location is essentially a pit-stop for birds migrating down south. Don’t miss the amazing creatures you can see here, accompanied with three gorgeous hiking trails located within the park.
When: Autumn and Spring
What to look out for: If you come during the fall, it’s pretty much guaranteed that every time you look up you’ll see hawks flying above you, as well as beautiful songbirds. In the spring, look out for shorebirds. You’ll be blown away by how many birds you’ll have in your view.
Yosemite National Park, California
Why: Yosemite has a lot to offer backpackers, but many hikers usually don’t come here with the plan in mind to just birdwatch. If you happen to be coming here for the nature sights, hiking trails, and the chance to hopefully spot some land animals and plant species, don’t forget to look up. The change in habitat throughout the year and across Yosemite, as well as the unique elevation gradient, is perfect for spotting the over 250 bird species here.
When: Any season you can find different species of birds, but in spring you’ll find the most variety.
What to look out for: Make sure to keep an eye out for John Muir’s favorite bird, the American Dipper, which can be found here in the winter. Come in spring to see warblers, flycatchers, and colorful tanagers, which are stunning neotropical songbirds.
Grand Manan Island, Canada
Why: Grand Manan Island is a breathtaking place to come enjoy the outdoors. All the birds here must feel the same way. Located on the east coast of Canada along the Atlantic, people can come here and take advantage of the glorious hiking trails situated throughout the island. Many come to camp overnight, as some of the trails are quite long. While you’re out and about, explore the over 300 species of birds that are native here or have migrated from up north in the Arctic.
When: April to early June, but you can come year-round.
What to look out for: There’s landbirds and shorebirds, but the main attraction are the thousands of seabirds, including Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and common murres.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania
Why: If the name doesn’t give it away, let it be known that Hawk Mountain is an extraordinary place to not only hike, but observe hawks as well as other predatory birds. It’s the perfect place to really connect with nature on a deeper level. It’s one of the top ten birdwatching destinations in the country, and the oldest sanctuary for these fascinating birds of prey in the entire world.
What to look out for: Sharp-shinned hawk, osprey, bald eagle, broad-winged hawk, American kestrel, and others.
There’s many places in the US that are great for birdwatching as well as hiking, backpacking, and other activities. Pair them together at the right time of the year to catch these amazing animals, and make the best of your backcountry experience.