Adirondack Birding & Boreal Birds

Adirondack Birding

Hamilton County: in the heart of the boreal zone

A Great Place in both Summer and Winter

Spring Melt

Winter in the central Adirondacks is stubborn. It has a habit of digging in its heels and hanging on for as long as possible. For us skiers, that is not a bad thing. But as we get ready for spring birding, the delay can feel long. But spring is coming – even if the weather has turned to gray and raw or to sleet and snow. The trick is to listen.

It begins on those sunny late winter days when the drip, drip, drip of melting snow and ice are a prelude to what lies ahead. The tune on such days is picked up by the songs of Brown Creepers and Dark-eyed Juncos which trade their winter silence for spring fervor. The song grows with cold flowing water in swollen streams and as the days warm enough to melt holes in the ice on the lakes, the pattern is picked up by the whirring wings of ducks which drop in to rest on the lakes during their long migration north. Some of the most common species are Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, and Common Merganser, but many other species pass through, including regionally uncommon species like Surf Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, or perhaps a Red-necked Grebe. It is a good time of year to check out Little Tupper Lake, Tupper Lake Marsh, and Lake Abanakee near Indian Lake.

The Sounds of April

And while the ducks and other aquatic species continue to move throughout much of the spring, the same can be said of raptors. April marks the high point in the spring raptor migration in the Adirondacks as Broad-winged Hawks, Merlin, Osprey, and Bald Eagle return to their territories, adding their cries to the rhythm of spring.

Songbirds are likewise returning, often starting with Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Song Sparrows. Soon Eastern Phoebes contribute their loud and emphatic notes to the chorus as Purple Finches and American Goldfinches start each morning with song. As April progresses, the tune of spring begins to swell – first with growing numbers of sparrows of several species including White-throated, Chipping, Fox, Savannah, Vesper, Swamp, and Dark-eyed Junco, even as lingering American Tree Sparrows sing before heading north to the arctic. These are soon followed by Blue-headed Vireos, Hermit Thrushes, and the staccato beat of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, while Ruffed Grouse pick up the tempo of spring with their drumming displays.

Evening outings in spring can also be fantastic. Pairs of Barred Owls whoop in duet, and returning Northern Saw-whet Owls toot the notes of spring incessantly as they search for mates. Local marshes are likewise a great stop, particularly in the evening when the cadence of spring is pumped out by American Bitterns or in the haunting sound of a winnowing Wilson’s Snipe. Wood Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks return, as the marsh begins to acquire all the parts of its symphony.

The Music of May

It all crescendos in May. Our earliest warblers like Pine, Palm, and Yellow-rumped add their songs to the composition during April, followed quickly by the bouncing pace of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, the hum of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and harmonies of flocks of White-crowned Sparrows on their way north.

If the music pauses for a beat at that point it is hard to tell, for the movement soon climaxes in May with colors, shapes, and songs of all sorts. And so we walk through deciduous woods to the tune of Red-eyed Vireos, Least Flycatchers, American Redstarts, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Eastern Wood-Pewees. We check out mixed forests for Black-throated Blue Warblers and Blue-headed Vireos and hike mountains to listen to the high notes of Blackpoll Warblers, the trills of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and fluty strains of Swainson’s Thrushes. We listen to the concert of a bog performed by Lincoln’s Sparrows and Palm Warblers. And we walk through coniferous woodlands were Nashville Warblers and Magnolia Warblers sing. And such boreal habitats are also great for finding sought-after species like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Gray Jay. This means that spring calls for trips to places like Sabattis Bog, Shallow Lake, and the Moose River Plains.

As if that weren’t enough, the rhythm of spring takes us into June - one of the best months of the year to explore the Adirondacks. The month is also marked by the Adirondack Boreal Birding Festival in Hamilton County - a great way to start off the music of summer.

And to think that it all started with the sound of dripping water.

Plan your Adirondack birding trip today! When you visit, there are comfortable lodging and restaurant options found in this vast wilderness.

Lake Lila can get quite rough, so use extreme caution on windy days. There is a nesting pair of Osprey on the lake shore and Common...
This trail has easy, rolling terrain and is a great place for the whole family. The path is on an old roadbed that ends at both...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Access to these ponds can be made quickly from Route 28 just outside of Eagle Bay. Several campsites along the shore offer the...
Inlet
13360
This nature trail with 850 yards of boardwalk is an easy 1.5-mile round trip and is fully wheelchair accessible. The path traverses...
Rte 30
Speculator
12164
It's an easy half-mile climb to Rocky Mountain's summit. The sunset and sunrise views from here can be spectacular. It's no wonder...
Inlet
13360
The parking area is a small gravel pull off along Route 28 about 2.4 miles southwest of Raquette Lake. The right path leads to the...
Inlet
13360
This trail opens into some wide, flat, plain areas covered in scrub brush. It's a great place for bird watching, and it's an easy...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
The Seventh Lake Mountain Community Connector encompasses 14.3 miles of intermediate and expert mountain biking trail. It was built...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
The summit of Black Bear has several viewing areas to spread out amongst the crowds of people who frequent this peak. If you wish...
Inlet
13360
The trail to Lower Sargent Pond is marked with both snowmobile and hiking trail markers. It goes primarily through hardwood stands...
North Lake Road
Inlet
13360
This is an easy ride that passes Upper and Lower ponds, with a final destination of Sucker Brook Bay on Raquette Lake. There is a...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
From the trailhead, hike along an old woods road and cross a bridge over a muddy pond area. The trail gently climbs past this and...
Route 28
Inlet
13360
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest is part of the 80,000 acre Moose River Plains Complex, a collection of public lands crossed by ...
Inlet
13360
The trail to Third Lake Creek is a seldom-used path that may be tough going after the first 2 miles, but the winding creek along...
South Shore Road
Inlet
13360
This long hike is not recommended for people with children or for inexperienced hikers. The first two miles of this trail is on a...
Inlet
13360
The trail starts out following the course of Big Moose Road and quickly comes to the old trail, which started slightly further back...
The trail around Moss Lake traverses gently rolling double track hills for mountain bikes and also provides an easy hike. There's...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Upper Sargent Pond is a great, short family hike to a wild pond setting. The route is well marked with snowmobile and hiking trail...
North Point Road
Inlet
13360
Turn right off the road from Sagamore and there will be a gate that can be ridden around on the left. Follow this rocky road for a...
Cedar River Flow is tucked in the mountains far from the main road. Several sites are by the outlet dam. Isolated wilderness sites...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
This is a great section of single track that brings you to the old Uncas Road from Hunt Club Road, which is a snowmobile trail....
Hunt Club Road
Inlet
13360
Note: The DEC has closed the Wakely Mountain trail until further notice due to serious safety concerns with the fire tower on the...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
Beaver Brook Bog is a birding area located off Uncas Road, near the village of Raquette Lake. The trail is on the right when...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
The trail is flat and easy and only 0.75 mile long. It winds through a beech forest and opens up on to a small mountain lake. This...
Parkhurst Road
Inlet
13360
Known as the Great Eight Lakes, this trail is easy to intermediate and is only 3 miles to Queer Lake, then 2.3 miles to Chain Ponds...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Located in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest off of Rock Dam Road. This access offers good, low-country hunting around the...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
This is a great place for the whole family with easy, rolling terrain. The trail is an old road that ends at Beaver Lake in 2.1...
Inlet
13360
Located on the south side of Route 28, the Green Bridge and Lock and Dam picnic area offers about 20 nice fishing locations for...
43.694550
Inlet
13360
These trails are mostly easy and flat with some small rolling hills and a few steep climbs. There is easy access directly from Old...
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
This trail is located in the Great Eight Lakes area. It is an easy to moderate, 1.2-mile hike to Windfall Pond. If you choose to...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Limekiln Lake Campground is run by the DEC. You can fish from any of the lakefront sites as well as from the public boat launch....
Limekiln Road
Inlet
13360
This trail starts on North Rondaxe Road as a beginner trail, then turns to intermediate past Stafford Pond. The trip connects Big...
North Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
This easy, family-oriented trail is great for beginners in hiking and mountain biking. The trail begins on a wide snowmobile trail...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
A 5.9-mile hike to a lake that's great for fishing for native brook trout and for primitive lean-to camping along the shore. Back...
Inlet
13360
Enter through the Brown Tract Pond campground. Since there is direct access to the pond, this is a great place to wet a line, swim...
Inlet
13360
These two ponds are located on a foot trail that's off the right side of Rondaxe Road across from the trail to Bald Mountain....
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
This is a 7.6-mile hike along the Otter Brook Basin on an old Jeep road. The mountain to the right is Kitty Cobble. The view across...
Otter Brook Road
Inlet
13360
Cedar River Flow is tucked in the mountains far from the main road. Several sites are by the outlet dam. Isolated wilderness sites...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
An 8.1-mile trip into Big West Lake and to the fireplace left behind by Louie Seymour is a benchmark in the hikes of anyone...
Otter Brook Road
Inlet
13360
Access to Red River is located 5 miles into the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, off of Limekiln Road. This slow moving, "perfect...
Inlet
13360
Route 10 is a good place to bird and a favorite during the winter when there is a Crossbill invasion. The West Branch of the...
Arietta
‎12139
This trail starts with a scenic drive through a hardwood forest offering many bird-watching opportunities. After the short drive, a...
Piseco
12139
This relatively easy 1.3-mile walk (round trip) to Rock Lake proceeds through a mixed hardwood/conifer forest. The hike ends at a...
Indian Lake
12842
This trail is a nice, tight single track on fairly level terrain that goes past a couple of lean-tos. The trail runs right along...
Seventh Lake Road
Inlet
13360
This is a two-mile, flat-water paddle to an old dam that generated the power for the Great Camp Sagamore complex years ago. The...
Raquette Lake
13436
Philadelphia Vireos have been seen feeding young in the second-growth hardwoods bordering the road from Blackbridge to Whitehouse....
Wells
12190
On the Flow, paddlers should see Common Loon, Mallard, Hooded and Common Mergansers, Osprey, Herring Gull, and-both of them noisy...
Indian Lake
12842
From Route 28, turn north onto Raquette Lake Road (County Road 2) and drive 0.7 mile, passing through the hamlet of Raquette Lake....
Raquette Lake
13436
This 10-mile (1-way) road trip will bisect a variety of bird habitats and offers diverse bird watching opportunities. Habitats...
Sabattis
12847
Lows Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the Adirondacks. It has the second largest Common Loon population of any single lake in...
Long Lake
12847
Blue Mountain has the second largest population of Bicknell’s Thrushes in the Adirondacks after Whiteface Mountain. The trail to...
Blue Mountain Lake
12812
The trail into to the bog is only 0.3 mile, one way. Watch for boreal birds along the trail. Listen for Woodpeckers and check each...
Inlet
13360
Look for a small open bog mat with scattered, stunted spruces on the north side of Circle Road. Many interesting northern birds can...
Long Lake
12847
The trailhead to the north section is on the northeast side of the Tarbell Hill Road, approximately 0.6 mile from Route 28N. For...
Long Lake
12847
This is a New York state DEC campground. This spot allows access to both Seventh and Eighth lakes, where a variety of birds...
Route 28
Inlet
13360
A rich variety of northern birds can be found in this fifty-thousand-acre forest. Habitat changes from open plains, boreal forest...
Indian Lake
12842
This is a flat water paddle following the Sacandaga River for 1.5 miles to Kunjamuk Bay, where the Kunjamuk River enters the...
Speculator
12164
The old railroad track starts across the road from the Browns Tract beach access on Uncas Road. There are two options from this...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
Along the Perkins Clearing Road, listen for the rich chirry, chirry, chorry, chorry song of the Mourning Warblers emanating from...
Lake Pleasant
12108
This relatively easy 3-mile round trip hike follows the Northville-Placid Trail south through mixed hardwood forests of spruce,...
Arietta
‎12139
This dirt road is lightly-traveled and can be walked and birded along its entire length for a wide variety of birds including Olive...
Arietta
‎12139
This relatively easy walk passes through several fields, a wetland/marsh area and mixed hardwoods, ending beneath stands of mature...
Wells
12190
South Shore Road
Inlet
13360

E-Newsletter Signup