So, I’ve been thinking recently, what are the best places to go birding in the continental US? So, I decided to make a post about it highlighting what are, in my opinion, some of the best places for birding in the US. Keep in mind, I have not personally been to all of these places so if I get any information wrong that is not my fault.
South Florida- Starting with an area I have been to multiple times. South Florida, is a marvelous place to bird. Besides being warm, it has numerous specialty species such as Short-tailed hawk, mangrove cuckoo, and white-crowned pigeon. However, unlike the Lower Rio Grande Valley which I will talk about later, a lot of these specialty birds are either hard to find (mangrove cuckoo) or seasonal. However, some of them (white-crowned pigeon) are common and found year round. The other thing that makes South Florida appealing are its water birds. Whether it be shorebirds at Fort DeSoto, wading birds in the Everglades (and pretty much everywhere else), or seabirds in the Dry Tortugas, waterbirds are common and diverse. When I was last in this area, I found every wading bird found in the US except for the two bittern species. Overall, south Florida is a great place to bird with many specialty species as well as cool water birds and numerous exotics.
Magee Marsh and the Crane Creek Region, OH- While no “specialty” birds can be found in this area, it is THE spot to go for eastern warblers. Thee boardwalk at Magee Marsh is literally dripping with warblers come late April and May. Prothonotary warblers are everywhere, as are black-throated green, northern parula, blackburnian, and tons of other cool eastern warblers. Besides this, there have been a large number of Kirtland’s warbler reports from the area. In May, Black Swamp Bird Observatory hosts a birding festival in the area (The Biggest Week in American Birding). It is a great festival and you are guarantee to get great birds. Jusst a warning though, the crowds can be massive.
Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX- This is another spot I have been to before. If you want species who’s ranges just barely extend north of the borders this (or SE Arizona) is the best spot in the US. Birds such as plain chacalacas, green jays, Altamira’s oriole, and green kingfisher call the valley home. The valley is also very accessible with a good number of airports in the area. Also, the spots are easy to access because many of them are reserve lands. I really can’t say enough good things about the valley. It is a phenomenal place to bird. The other great thing about it is that besides specialty birds, you can find other cool birds which have either a limited range or are restricted to the south. I am talking about birds like Sprauge’s pipit, both whistling-ducks, and roseate spoonbill. It is a great place to go.
South-East Arizona- Now we are getting into areas that I haven’t (yet) been to. These are the areas that I am less likely to get information right on. However, I will try. South-east Arizona is probably the second best place in the US for birds who’s ranges just barely extend north of the border. South-east Arizona is loaded with specialties. Most are extremely cool too. Birds such as zone-tailed hawks, magnificent hummingbirds, red-faced warblers, and elegant trogan can be found in the area. Besides this, the sky islands work as a great migrant trap. And if you’re a hummingbird fan, SE AZ is the place to go. Twelve species of hummingbird are possible, more than anywhere else in the US. This includes magnificent and blue-throated. Also, if these species aren’t enough, in the deserts of the region you can find desert birds such as verdin and gila woodpecker.
Alaska- Of the regions mentioned in this post, Alaska is the one I know the least about. However, I will try to discuss it as best as I can. Alaska is full of cool and diverse birds. It is home to spectacled and Stellar’s eider, blue throat, mckay’s bunting, and tons of pelagics. Besides this, Attu and the Pribolofs are great for catching rarities from Asia. It is also beautiful. While all the places described are cool and beautiful it is hard to beat the rugged beauty of Alaska. Also, besides the birds, the mammals are amazing and diverse.
California- This is another great birding location that I don’t know all that much about. However, from the little I do know, it is amazing. Monterey Bay has probably the best pelagic birding in the US. It also has cool shorebirds like rock sandpiper, black oystercatcher, and black turnstone. The land birds are great too, California hosts such species as yellow-billed magpie, island scrub-jay, California towhee, California gnatcatcher, mountain quail, and California condor. I also has diverse habitats making for a great birding experience.
So that is my list for what I consider to be the best places for birding in the US. If I got any information wrong or if there is a location you think I should add, feel free to let me know in the comments.