A Weekend of Winter Birding

As the snow falls, many of us think that birding is done for the season. That couldn’t be any further from the truth! In fact, birding in winter is exciting and often leads to unexpected finds. Depending on the year and how food crops look further north, many northern birds will find their way south of the Canadian border and spend the winter in the Adirondacks, dining on delicious cones and other tasty treats. For Adirondack birders, this means there are great opportunities to observe unique species right here within the Blue Line! And Long Lake recognizes that opportunity. Winter Birding Weekend is back for 2022 and is sure to bring a lot of excitement to the region!

A brown chicken-like bird in conifer trees and snow.
A Ruffed Grouse

Event details

What: Winter Birding Weekend in the Central Adirondacks 

When: Saturday and Sunday, January 29 - 30, 2022

Who: Participation is limited to 25 people for each day. Call Long Lake Parks and Recreation (518-624-3077) to reserve your spot on a guided trip with avian guide Joan Collins.

Where: Participants will meet at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday in front of the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake. From there, field trips led by Joan Collins will disperse out into the Adirondacks to see what bird species can be found.

Why: Because birding is awesome! Traditionally, this event consisted of field trips, a dinner, and an educational presentation. Due to COVID-19, the 2022 event will just be field trips. But that doesn’t mean Winter Birding Weekend won’t be fun! Participants can socialize safely outdoors while searching for species such as crossbills and other winter finches.

A red bird with a crisscrossed bill on a snowy pine branch.
A male Red Crossbill

What species might be around

I spoke with Joan Collins, President of Adirondack Avian Expeditions and Conservation Chair of Northern New York Audubon, about the upcoming birding weekend. She said she is very excited for birding this winter! Joan also said that official itineraries will be done closer to the event dates. One year, a Ross’s Gull (super rare in the lower 48) was found near Tupper Lake, so field trips headed that direction. This year, it’s likely that at least one day will consist of birding within some of the towns in the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub. Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson, and Long Lake are all home to fantastic boreal habitat, and winter finches have already been found in these forests this season! Red Crossbills, White-winged Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and American Goldfinches are all likely. Lately, these species have been found gritting (eating sand and salt off the road to help with seed digestion), foraging on cones, and even singing! 

Two birds, red and yellow, on pavement.
A male and a female Red Crossbill gritting on the side of the road

Yes, it’s true. Singing birds are usually a sign of spring and nesting. Crossbills have an irregular nesting period, and will do so whenever the cone crop is good. This season there is a wonderful crop, so the birds will nest this winter in the Adirondacks. 

In addition to the above mentioned finches, Evening Grosbeaks are not out of the question either, and redpolls have been reported in the greater Adirondack region. 

Two grey fluffy birds perched on a branch.
Canada Jays

Year-round boreal species are also likely to be searched for. Canada Jays, Boreal Chickadees, and Black-backed Woodpeckers are all reliably found in this area. And, of course, there are always ubiquitous Black-capped Chickadees, Common Ravens, Hairy Woodpeckers, Ruffed Grouse, American Crows, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

A small black and white woodpecker in a snowy tree.
A male Hairy Woodpecker

What else to do in Long Lake

Long Lake in the central Adirondacks is full of things to do! It’s an outdoor recreation paradise in every season. Winter brings snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing to the nearby woods and frozen waters. Why not extend your birding weekend to a full Adirondack week? There are places to stay and eat in Long Lake, and throughout Hamilton County. With small towns and plenty of big adventures, this is the place to be this winter, especially if you’re looking for birds!