As Spring rolls around for another year, birds begin to think of two things: migrating and mating. Both of these activities are great not only for the birds but also for bird watchers. Both migrating and mating make birds more visible in many areas of the United States. The time span is generally March through May, but it can expand a little before and a little after that depending on exactly which area you’re talking about.

Let’s take a look at seven of the more popular locations. We’ll work our way from the west to the east across the country. Hopefully at least one of these hotspots is near you or is one that you can plan a trip to this year.


Enjoy Spring Birdwatching In These 7 Places


1. Copper River Delta, Alaska

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Admittedly, this first location is a little more difficult to get to, unless you’re already a native of the area. Then again maybe this is just the vacation destination you’ve been looking for.

You’ll find the Copper River Delta on the southern shore of Alaska just east of Cordova. Seward and Anchorage are a little farther west.

For over a quarter of a century local residents have sponsored the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival. In early May of 2017, David Sibley, renowned bird field guide creator, will be the festival’s keynote speaker.

This area is a critical stop for roughly five to ten million shorebirds as they migrate along the Pacific Flyway.

You can find just about the entire Pacific coast population of dunlins and western sandpipers here. There are also huge numbers of least sandpipers, knots, and short and long-billed dowitchers.

Other common shorebirds include white-fronted and Canada geese, pintails, green-winged teal, American wigeon, shoveler, greater scaup, common and Barrow's goldeneye, oldsquaw, bufflehead, trumpeter and tundra swans, dabbling ducks, mergansers, red-throated loons, Arctic terns, mew gulls, dowitchers, northern phalaropes, and Aleutian terns.

Find a place to stay near the Copper River Delta


2. Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Moving down the coast to the Point Reyes National Seashore, just north of San Francisco, California, you have the chance to see about 50% of all the species of birds in North America.

If you’re interested in what appears to be a complete list, check this useful information available at the Point Reyes National Seashore Association’s site.

Obviously that means there are far too many kinds of birds to list here, but there are a couple to note. Both the Northern spotted owl and the Western snowy plover are threatened birds that you can look for in the area.

Find a place to stay near Point Reyes National Seashore


3. High Island, Texas

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Flying next to the south central portion of the country, we land at High Island just outside of Houston, Texas. The local Audubon Society has four sanctuaries in the area.

In Spring you can regularly see warblers, vireos, flycatchers, thrushes, buntings, tanagers, and grosbeaks. The island is fairly famous for “fallout” as well. This is the ability to see birds that have been relocated or delayed during migration due to severe storms.

Find a place to stay near High Island


4. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Reserve

Zoom several hundred miles almost due north to see more birds at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Reserve (NWR) just south of Minneapolis.

This NWR benefits from being on another of the bird migration “superhighways” known as the Mississippi Flyway. You can explore the 14,000-acre refuge that has trails along the Minnesota River. Some of them trailheads very close to the Mall of America.

Find a place to stay near the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


5. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ohio

Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you are interested in birds even a little, you probably have already heard of the warblers of the Magee Marsh near Toledo, Ohio, on the shoresof Lake Erie.

Many birders make their way to the marsh annually to see how many warblers they can spot during migration season. Mid-May is probably the best time to visit.

Find a place to stay near the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area


6. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

West of Key West, Florida is a group of islands called the Dry Tortugas. The national park there requires a little more effort to get to simply due to this offshore location.

The birds you can see there, especially during April migration, are worth the trip. You might see any of the 299 species on the official bird list.

Look for the roseate tern, bridled tern, brown pelican, mourning dove, and dozens of different types of warblers.

The park features the only nesting colonies of brown noddy, magnificent frigatebird, sooty tern, and masked booby in the contiguous United States.

Find a place to stay near Dry Tortugas National Park


7. Cape May, New Jersey

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Finally we get to another migration funnel that runs through Cape May at the southern tip of New Jersey.

This area may be more known for birding in the fall, but since it’s at a migratory crossroads, Spring is a great time to visit as well.

Hundreds of species are possible here. Some of the more prominent include the Snow Goose, Brant, Canada Goose, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Dunlin, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and Boat-tailed Grackle.

Find a place to stay in Cape May





Gary Sonnenberg is an amateur birder (he has bird feeders in his backyard), board gamer (he has played Agricola over 400 times), and optics fan (he owns a pair of binoculars and a telescope). Gary is also the owner of Optics Owl.