Autumn Migration in NY's Adirondack Park

Before the autumn wind shakes the kaleidoscope of leaves to the ground in the Adirondacks, early season winds bring bright colors of a different sort to Adirondack forests. And these colors have wings. Songbird migration begins across the region during the second half of summer and stretches into fall, giving birders a great chance to see a wide variety of species.

Of course, the Central Adirondacks and Hamilton County are well known for their boreal habitat where birders can find year-round species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. These resident species can still be found during the fall (Boreal Chickadees look quite handsome after their fall molt), and the great thing is that the edges of many boreal habitats are also great places to search for migrating birds. Of these migrating species, warblers are among the favorites and birders should look for any of the following moving through our forests and hedgerows:

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Wilson's Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Ovenbird
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Northern Parula
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Cape May Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Bay-breasted Warbler
  • American Redstart

Feast Before Flight

Warblers do not hold an exclusive grasp on the label of popular birds. Flycatchers and vireos contain some of the best known species like Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Alder Flycatcher. Some of these species will be grouped around fruiting trees and shrubs as the birds fatten up for the long migration south to warmer climes. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers and an array of thrushes, such as Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes also take part in the feast. Cedar Waxwings, too, feed on the fruit and towards the end of the fall they are often joined by Bohemian Waxwings arriving from the north.

The later fall season can also be marked by migrating finches, such as Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills which can show up in a variety of coniferous habitats. Sparrows move south throughout the season – many of them arriving after the warblers have departed. This includes species like White-crowned and Fox Sparrows - often found with more common species like White-throated Sparrows and Song Sparrows. Rusty Blackbirds also move south during the fall and can be found in many of the wetlands which cover the map of Hamilton County, including Sabbatis and Hitchins Bogs.

BIRDING HIKES & ADIRONDACK PADDLES

And, if lakes and wetlands are a favorite place to visit, birders should also be on the lookout for migrating waterfowl as the season progresses. Since many sites are best accessed via the water, grab your paddle and explore by kayak or canoe. A wide variety of species pass through, stopping over on the region's lakes and wetlands. Finally, if waterfowl and raptors are sought after species, birders would also be wise to check out the Champlain Region where a good movement of both migrating waterfowl and migrating raptors can be found. After all, while fall ushers in the cold months, it does not mean that good birding is coming to an end. It only marks a new chapter in the yearly cycle of birding in the region.