Adirondack Birding & Boreal Birds

Adirondack Birding

Hamilton County: in the heart of the boreal zone

A great place in both summer and winter

The Central Adirondacks and Hamilton County get a lot of attention during the spring and summer as a mecca for birders in search of warblers and other warm-weather species. But these areas are also quite good during the winter, even in the cold and snow.

It begins during the fall, when area lakes attract migrating ducks and other aquatic species like Red-necked Grebes, Bufflehead, Common Mergansers, and Hooded Mergansers. But even when the lakes freeze up as the cold presses hard on the landscape and sends the ducks elsewhere, Hamilton County and the Central Adirondacks remain great places to visit for those in search of birds.

Hooded Merganser (Audubon Field Guide - National Audubon Society Photo: Rob Curtis/Vireo)

Boreal Birds and Winter Finches

Much of this stems from the fact that Hamilton County possesses or sits close to many excellent boreal habitats, where birders can search for resident species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. Some of these sites, like Sabattis Bog, Roosevelt Truck Trail, and the boreal areas along the Route 28N corridor near Minerva, are easily accessed during the winter, when snow closes many other boreal locations. In addition, this winter is shaping up to be good for both Red and White-winged Crossbills, and both species nested in the region in response to the excellent cone crop on our conifers.

As long as they are exploring the area, birders should search out bird feeders where other species of winter finches may also be found. These often include American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, and Pine Siskin, but sometimes Evening Grosbeaks make an appearance at places like the Newcomb AIC. In some years — roughly every other year — Common Redpolls also arrive from the north to invade our bird feeders, and the flocks often bring Hoary Redpolls with them. Even less frequently, Pine Grosbeaks also show up, leaving their northern homes when there isn't enough food to eat.

Pine Grosbeak (Audubon Field Guide - National Audubon Society Guide to North American Birds)

Pine Grosbeaks are usually found in towns where they can find ornamental fruit trees, and they may be joined by lingering American Robins or Cedar Waxwings. Of more interest, Bohemian Waxwings regularly come south during the winter to find fruit, and they can show up at any time during the season to chow down.

Field Birds, Snowy Owls, and Other Raptors

Birders may also want to check out local fields and hedgerows where they can find Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, American Tree Sparrows, and possibly a Lapland Longspurs, and those interested in birding the fields of the North Country will do well to take a day trip to either the Champlain or St. Lawrence valleys. Check out those respective websites (Champlain Region and Malone) to learn more. Fields in the Adirondacks or the surrounding valleys may also offer raptors and Northern Shrikes, and all feeder-watching birders should be prepared for a surprise visit by a hungry Cooper's Hawk or another species which has stuck around into the winter.

Snowy Owl (National Audubon Society - Photo: Brian Kushner)

If raptors are of interest, birders should keep an eye open for Snowy Owls, which have been moving south from the arctic in numbers this year. The owls apparently had a successful summer of raising their young, and that means we have a good chance of seeing them in the North Country this winter. And while they are more likely in the surrounding valleys, any farm field, airport, beach, or other open area is worth a look for them.

It all means that winter birding in the Central Adirondacks and the North Country is more about finding specialty species than it is about checking off a long list of species on a list. So bundle up, grab your binoculars and a mug of hot cocoa, and get exploring!

Plan Your Birding Expedition in Hamilton County!

For a true Adirondack experience, join us in the heart of the mountains for exciting, year-round birding! When you visit, there are comfortable lodging and restaurant options found in this vast wilderness.

Winter Overview: Winter access is not recommended for those on foot as this is a snowmobile trail in the winter.    Upper Sargent...
North Point Road
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: The last portion of Cedar River Road is not open in the winter. With the road closed it adds many miles of road...
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
Raquette Lake
13436
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...
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 Lake Rd
Inlet
13360
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
Winter Overview: Winter access is not recommended for those on foot, as this is a snowmobile trail in the winter.    This easy,...
Big Moose Road
Eagle Bay
13331
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
​Winter Overview: Winter access is not recommended, as this is a snowmobile trail in the winter. The Seventh Lake Mountain...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
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
Winter Overview: This trail is not recommended in the winter as the Moose River Plains Wild Forest is a snowmobile corridor and not...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: Winter access is not recommended, as Uncas Road is a snowmobile trail in the winter.  This is an easy ride that...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: The winter parking here is not plowed and the shoulder of Route 28 is not recommended.   The parking area is a...
Route 28
43.8087341
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
Long Lake
12847
Winter Overview: Winter access here is great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The parking area is plowed, and the trail...
South Shore Road
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
Winter Overview: This area is not recommended for winter access, other than by snowmobile, as the Moose River Plains is a...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
From Inlet, travel south on Route 28 for 6.2 miles, then turn right onto Rondaxe Road. Travel just over 0.1 mile to the trailhead...
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: The winter parking here is a snowplow turn around and no parking is available.  From the trailhead, hike along an...
Route 28
Inlet
13360
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
Winter Overview: Winter access is difficult as no parking areas are plowed for ski or snowshoe access. Winter hiking not...
Hunt Club Road
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: Not recommended for winter access as the Moose River Plains is a snowmobile corridor and not open to cars or ...
Otter Brook 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...
Winter Overview: The winter parking here is snowplowed for 12 cars and offers a great place for cross-country skiing and...
Winter Overview: Winter access here is great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The parking area is regularly plowed and the...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: During the winter this trail is snowmobile access only and not recommended for ski or snowshoe travel. The...
Route 28
43.7655629
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: Winter access is not recommended by those on foot, as this is a snowmobile trail in the winter.    Located in the...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: The winter road is for snowmobiles only and is usually closed until Memorial Day weekend.  Cedar River Flow is...
Cedar River Road
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
Winter Overview: This trail is not recommended for winter access as the Moose River Plains Wild Forest is a snowmobile corridor and...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Winter Overview: Winter access is great here for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The parking area is regularly plowed and the...
Big Moose Road
Eagle Bay
13331
Winter Overview: Not recommended. The Moose River Plains Is a snowmobile corridor and not open to cars or trucks during the winter...
Inlet
13360
​Winter Overview: Access only from the Parkhurst Road parking area. This is a snowplow turnaround, so parking here is limited.   ...
Parkhurst Road
Inlet
13360
North Rondaxe 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
South Shore Road
Inlet
13360

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