Tuesday, November 13, 2007

>>Radiation of modern birds

Radiation of modern birds

Modern birds are classified in the subclass Neornithes, which are now known to have evolved into some basic lineages by the end of the Cretaceous . The Neornithes are split into two superorders, the Paleognathae and Neognathae. The paleognaths include the tinamous of Central and South America and the ratites. The ratites are large flightless birds, and include ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, kiwis and emus (though some scientists suspect that the ratites represent an artificial grouping of birds which have independently lost the ability to fly in a number of unrelated lineages).
The basal divergence from the remaining Neognathes was that the Galloanserae, the superorder containing the Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans and screamers), and the Galliformes (the pheasants, grouse, and their allies, together with the mound builders, and the guans and their allies). The dates for the splits are much debated by scientists. It is agreed that the Neornithes evolved in the Cretaceous and that the split between the Galloanseri from other Neognathes occurred before the K-T extinction event, but there are different opinions about whether the radiation of the remaining Neognathes occurred before or after the extinction of the other dinosaurs.This disagreement is in part caused by a divergence in the evidence, with molecular dating suggesting a Cretaceous radiation and fossil evidence supporting a Tertiary radiation. Attempts to reconcile the molecular and fossil evidence have proved controversial.
The classification of birds is a contentious issue. Sibley and Ahlquist's Phylogeny and Classification of Birds (1990) is a landmark work on the classification of birds, although frequently debated and constantly revised. A preponderance of evidence seems to suggest that the modern bird orders constitute accurate taxa. But scientists disagree about the relationships between orders; evidence from modern bird anatomy, fossils and DNA have all been brought to bear on the problem but no strong consensus has emerged. More recently, new fossil and molecular evidence is providing an increasingly clear picture of the evolution of modern bird orders.

>>Early evolution of birds

Early evolution of birds










Basal bird phylogeny simplified after Chiappe, 2007
During the Cretaceous Period, birds diversified into a wide variety of forms. Many of these groups retained primitive characteristics, such as clawed wings and teeth, though the latter was lost independently in a number of bird groups, including modern birds (Neornithes). While the earliest birds retained the long bony tails of their ancestors (birds such as Archaeopteryx and Jeholornis), more advanced birds shortened the tail with the advent of the pygostyle bone in the clade Pygostylia.
The first large, diverse lineage of short-tailed birds to evolve were the Enantiornithes, or "opposite birds", so named because the construction of their shoulder bones was the reverse of the condition seen in modern birds. Enantirornithes occupied a wide array of ecological niches, from sand-probing shorebirds and fish-eaters to tree-dwelling forms and seed-eaters. More advanced lineages also specialized in eating fish, like the superficially gull-like subclass of Ichthyornithes ("fish birds"). One order of Mesozoic seabirds, the Hesperornithiformes, became so well adapted to hunting fish in marine environments that they lost the ability to fly and became primarily aquatic. Despite their extreme specializations, the Hesperornithiformes represent some of the closest relatives of modern birds.

Friday, November 2, 2007

>>Dinosaurs and the origin of birds

Dinosaurs and the origin of birds

Confuciusornis, a Cretaceous bird from China

Confuciusornis, a Cretaceous bird from China
There is significant evidence that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, specifically, that birds are members of Maniraptora, a group of theropods which includes dromaeosaurs and oviraptorids, among others. As more non-avian theropods that are closely related to birds are discovered, the formerly clear distinction between non-birds and birds becomes blurred. Recent discoveries in Liaoning Province of northeast China, demonstrating that many small theropod dinosaurs had feathers, contribute to this ambiguity.
The oldest known bird, the Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx, is well-known as one of the first transitional fossils to be found in support of evolution in the late 19th century, though it is not considered a direct ancestor of modern birds. Protoavis texensis may be even older although the fragmentary nature of this fossil leaves it open to considerable doubt whether this was a bird ancestor.
The dromaeosaurids Cryptovolans and Microraptor may have been capable of powered flight to an extent similar to or greater than that of Archaeopteryx. Cryptovolans had a sternal keel and had ribs with uncinate processes. In fact, Cryptovolans makes a better "bird" than Archaeopteryx which is missing some of these modern bird features. Because of this, some palaeontologists have suggested that dromaeosaurs are actually basal birds, and that the larger members of the family are secondarily flightless, i.e. that dromaeosaurs evolved from birds and not the other way around. Evidence for this theory is currently inconclusive, as the exact relationship among the most advanced maniraptoran dinosaurs and the most primitive true birds are not well understood.
Although ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs share the hip structure of birds, birds actually originated from the saurischian (lizard-hipped) dinosaurs, and thus evolved their hip structure independently. In fact, the bird-like hip structure also developed a third time among a peculiar group of theropods, the Therizinosauridae.
An alternate theory to the dinosaurian origin of birds, espoused by a few scientists (most notably Larry Martin and Alan Feduccia), states that birds (including maniraptoran "dinosaurs") evolved from early archosaurs like Longisquama, a theory which is contested by most palaeontologists and evidence based on feather development and evolution.

>>Evolution and taxonomy

Evolution and taxonomy

Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird

Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird
The first classification of birds was developed by Francis Willughby and John Ray in their 1676 volume, Ornithologiae. Carolus Linnaeus modified that work in 1758 to devise the taxonomic classification system still in use.Birds are categorised as the biological class Aves in Linnean taxonomy. Phylogenetic taxonomy places Aves in the dinosaur clade Theropoda. Aves and a sister group, the order Crocodilia, together are the sole living members of the reptile clade Archosauria. Phylogenetically, Aves is commonly defined as all descendants of the most recent common ancestor of modern birds and Archaeopteryx lithographica.Archaeopteryx, from the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic (some 155–150 million years ago), is the earliest known bird under this definition. Others have defined Aves to include only the modern bird groups, excluding most groups known only from fossils,in part to avoid the uncertainties about the placement of Archaeopteryx in relation to animals traditionally thought of as theropod dinosaurs.
Modern birds all sit within the subclass Neornithes, which is divided into two superorders, the Paleognathae (mostly flightless birds like ostriches), and the wildly diverse Neognathae, containing all other birds. Depending on the taxonomic viewpoint, the number of species cited varies anywhere from 9,800 to 10,050 known living bird species in the world.

Saturday, October 6, 2007



Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals. Birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period and the earliest known bird is the Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx. Ranging in size from tiny hummingbirds to the huge Ostrich and Emu, there are around 10,000 known living bird species in the world, making them the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates.
Modern birds are characterised by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. All birds have forelimbs modified as wings and most can fly, though the ratites and several others, particularly endemic island species, have lost the ability to fly. Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight.
Many species of bird undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social and communicate using visual signals and through calls and song, and participate in social behaviours including cooperative hunting, cooperative breeding, flocking and mobbing of predators. Birds are primarily socially monogamous, with engagement in extra-pair copulations being common in some species—other species have polygamous or polyandrous breeding systems. Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated and most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.
Birds are economically important to humans: many are important sources of food, acquired either through hunting or farming, and they provide other products. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Birds figure prominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry and popular music. About 120–130 species have become extinct as a result of human activity since 1600, and hundreds more before this. Currently around 1,200 species of birds are threatened with extinction by human activities and efforts are underway to protect them.

>>What is avian flu?

What is avian flu?

Avian flu describes the form of influenza viruses that ostensibly infects only birds. These can be birds that live in the wild, such as swans, ducks or geese, or birds bred in factory conditions for human consumption, such as chickens or turkeys.

It has been a known fact and for some time, that birds, in any form, appear to be widespread carriers of a many natural variations of the flu virus, Experts calculate that there may be as many as fifteen different varieties of influenza affecting the bird population of the globe.

These forms of flu are generally pretty mild, and rarely display symptoms or cause widespread fatalities. However, and especially when the birds are bred in close proximity to one and other in an enclosed environment, there are some forms of flu viruses that are both highly contagious and especially viral in their form.

Known as "highly pathogenic avian influenza" these epidemics can cause widespread fatalities in a bird population in a matter of hours. One particularly viral form of avian flu has been active in Asia intermittently for the last decade. In 1997, when this form of avian flu was first detected. researchers were both surprised and alarmed to discover that this was a virus which had the ability and could occasionally infect humans. Almost without exception, the cases reported were among people who were handling live chickens or turkeys in coups. Known in scientific circles as "species jumping" there arose a genuine fear that an avian flu virus bearing highly pathogenic characteristics could be merged with an influenza virus in human form.

That this virus was shown to be fatal in most cases to the avian populations meant that the greatest fears of researchers into the spread of a pandemic that would affect both birds and humans as one.

If this were to happen, the result could be a global flu pandemic that would make the previous one that took place almost one hundred years previously seem like a picnic. Known as the Spanish pandemic of 1918-1919, it saw the deaths of between 20 and 40 million people.

This was more than the recently ended World War One. The Spanish Flue Pandemic is generally regarded as the most devastating epidemic in world history to date. Bearing in mind that this pandemic took place before international travel was commonplace and was confined mainly to Europe, if there were to a be global avian flu pandemic in the 21st century the consequential loss of life could have been indeed catastrophic.

In order to contain the spread of the pandemic, initially many of the Asian countries were required to cull entire poultry stocks. However there was little to be done to prevent the disease from spreading through wild fowl and these were found to be the principal carriers and spreaders of the virus.

So how does the avian flu spread to humans? Theory has it that if a person, who is suffering from a human viral flu, comes into contact with a bird who is suffering from avian flu, there is a remote possibility that the two strains may combine to create a new strain that will be based on the avian flu virus. This would mean that the avian flu’s highly pathogenic characteristics could be passed on to humans, both rapidly and with the capability of causing tremendous and widespread fatalities.

Thankfully, till now, this has not been the case. There have been human fatalities from avian flu, but they have been numbered in the low hundreds in total over the last ten years. And the Avian Flu viruses (i.e. H5N1, H7N3 have still been contained in people who have been in daily contact with live poultry.

The symptoms of avian flu are similar to human flu, and they are a high fever, a dry cough, sore throat and aching muscles. In advanced forms of avian flu, the patient may experience problems with breathing that can develop into pneumonia. This form of complication, in many cases, can prove fatal.

The threat of a pandemic of avian flu affecting humans has not yet happened. Scientists have not dismissed the likelihood of this happening in the future. All that it would take would be a chain of events that theoretically could occur but are unlikely to do so. People who travel to the far eastern countries should avoid contact with people who are involved in the poultry industry, especially if they are suffering from influenza. An unfortunate chain of events like that could spark of a global avian influenza pandemic.

Frank j Vanderlugt owns and operates http://www.avian-flu-symptons.com 2 Avianflusymptonscom
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By: Frank Vanderlugt

>>About Avian Flu Birds

About Avian Flu Birds

Avian flu is commonly called bird flu. It is an infection that occurs naturally in birds. The virus is carried by wild birds in their intestines. The wild birds rarely get sick from the virus. It is however very contagious among domesticated birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys. It can make them very sick, very quickly and usually leads to death.

The virus comes in two forms. One is a low impact variety that usually goes undetected. The domestic birds show little change. The high impact form spreads quickly through a domestic flock. The virus attacks internal organs and the infected birds are usually dead within two days.

The virus spreads through domestic birds quickly because the birds are typically held in close contact with each other. The saliva and feces spread the virus from one bird to the next. Common areas like water and feed supplies often become contaminated and accelerate the spread of the disease.

Typically avian flu does not transfer from birds to people. But in recent years there have been more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection by the World Health Organization. The flu spreads to people in much the same way it spreads to other birds. The humans that were infected had contact with the infected chickens, ducks or turkeys or contaminated surfaces. Transfer from one infected person to another is luckily very rare.

Avian flu symptoms are very much like normal human strains of the flu and include fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Additional symptoms vary based on the specific strain of the virus that caused the infection. A lab test is needed to confirm if the person is suffering from avian flu or just a normal human strain.

While this may not sound like a serious problem, health official are very concerned about avian flu being transmitted to humans even in small numbers. The risk is that the virus will adapt over time to a form that is highly contagious among humans just like it is now among domestic birds. Additionally all viruses are a concern because they can become resistant to drugs and harder to treat.

Currently in the U.S., there is no risk of avian flu. There is no concern about eating properly cooked eggs and poultry. There is no need to wear a surgical mask when around large groups of people. It is also considered safe to maintain a flock of chickens for personal egg production.

As a precaution you should avoid contact with any wild bird. Do not attempt to touch a diseased or dead bird. You can contact your local government for proper removal of the dead bird. Often the bird will be sent for testing to determine if any disease was present.

Hunters should exercise caution when dealing with game birds. They should never handle or eat sick birds. When cleaning the bird, latex gloves should be worn. The knives, surfaces and other equipment should be cleaned with soap and water. Hunters should not drink, eat or smoke while handling the birds. This could easily transfer contamination to the mouth. All game birds should be cooked thoroughly.
frank j vanderlugt owns and operates http://www.avian-flu-symptons-now.com 2 Avianflusymptonsnowcom

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By: Frank Vanderlugt

>>How to Keep Your Pet Birds Safe at Home

How to Keep Your Pet Birds Safe at Home

Many of us have heard stories about birds outlasting their owners. This is a surprise to many, considering the delicate appearance of most species of birds. Birds, especially canaries, were used by miners to test the quality of the air deep in the mines. When the air reaches relatively unhealthy levels, the canaries are affected adversely and succumb to the fatal effects. This gives miners ample warning before the air became fatal for humans. This shows the keen perception of birds.

Pet birds are easily affected by unwholesome smells, similar to wild birds. Many household items, Teflon pans, aerosol sprays and even furniture polish, can be lethal to birds. One of the best practices when dealing with substances that may give off pungent odors is to use it in airy areas far away from your birds.

Pet birds have a natural inclination to chomp and it can be a major issue. When a bird chomps on soldered joints on welded items, lead poisoning is a common result. Also, birds do have a penchant to chew on potted plants. Despite popular sentiments, poinsettia plants are not deadly. It is better to be safe than sorry so do err on the side of caution should you be uncertain if a plant is poisonous for your pet bird and remove it from the reach of your pet. A small pot of innocuous parsley can be helpful to the bird to overcome the desire of nibbling on houseplants as it is a safe substitute.

Fresh food that is fed to your birds will do them a whole lot of good; however, food like coffee, chocolate and avocado are fatal for birds and they should never be given such foods.

As the holiday season approaches, most people will bring a tree into their house. Many might think that a bird's natural habitat is a tree and have the belief that their birds will have an affinity for perching on it. It is true that birds might enjoy this exercise, many pine trees could have had preservatives or chemicals administered and prove fatal to your pet. Furthermore, electrical lights and decorations can be pose a certain kind of danger for your birds.

There are a number of precautionary issues to see to if your bird does not have had its wings clipped. First, all windows and glass doors should be covered in some way. A good bet is achieved by blinds, shades or curtains. Placing safety decals on windows and glass is another option, besides curtains or blinds, to alert the bird that the glass is there and help avoid serious or fatal accidents. You should treat other large reflective surfaces and mirrors in a similar manner when your pet bird is released from its cage.

Standing water can pose as a form of danger as well. The bird can meet its untimely end in a toilet bowl or full kitchen sink in a few seconds. Cooking while a bird is out of its cage is not advised, especially if you have an uncovered pot on the stove.

Finally, always be mindful of the whereabouts of your bird even if its wings are clipped. Even a bird with clipped wings can soar for a considerable distance if there is an upward breeze. It is easy to forget that your bird is perched on your shoulder when your doorbell suddenly rings and you rush to answer it but you must remember never to carry your bird to an open door regardless of whether or not its wings are clipped.
Moses Wright has been a bird lover since young and now he loves to help fellow bird owners solve their bird care problems and other house pet care problems whenever he can on his site: http://www.petquery.com/

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By: Moses Wright

Monday, September 17, 2007

>>Watching the Beautiful Bird life at the Kakamega Forest Reserve

Watching the Beautiful Bird life
at the Kakamega Forest Reserve

Bird Watching in Kenya takes place in the Kakamega Forest Reserve; a beautiful rain forest with myriad varieties of birds, animals and butterflies, Virtually all of the Rift Valley Lakes, Mount Kenya and its surrounding, the Lake Victoria Region and the Masai Mara National Reserve to mention but the least.

Kakamega Forest Reserve is home to the almost extinct De Brazza's monkey, the red tailed monkey, black colobus monkey, white colobus monkey, fruit bats and flying squirrels. However the mother of all attractions is the bird watching excursions in the Kakamega Forest Reserve. This reserve boasts to over 330 of bird species and over 400 species of butterflies. A visit to this reserve will sure treat you to a variety of plant life, unique due to the fact that Kakamega Forest Reserve is a virgin tropical forest especially in the northern side.

The best times to visit the Kakamega Forest Reserve is in June, July, August through to October. During these times thousands of Migratory birds arrive. The Kakamega Forest Reserve is usually in full bloom at this time and is a magnificent site to behold. Its during these times also that circumcision, a practice very important to the local community is performed. On Sundays you will sure be treated to bull fights and cock fights organized by the local communities of Khaemba and Shinyalu within the Kakamega Forest Reserve.

Walking through the Kakamega Forest Reserve is the best way to appreciate its bio-diversity. I would not encourage you to make four wheel drive travel through the forest since the trails and the paths are not meant for vehicles and you could easily scare away the birds and animals that you intended to see. Its advisable to take a trained guide with you at a small fee. This guides have a lot of invaluable information and details that you could make do with, apart from guiding you through the trails.

Although bird watching is the reason visitors come to Kakamega Forest Reserve, one will well be treated to fantastic nature walks along the Yara river, Lugusida river, Isiukhu river and the Ikuywa river. Its interesting to watch the isukhu falls on the Isiukhu River, to climb to the Buyanga Hill lookout in the Northern side of the forest to watch the sunrise and Lirhanda Hill lookout in the south to watch the sunset. You could also see the Crying Stone situated to the south of Kakamega town, half way on your way to shinyalu.

The Kakamega Forest Reserve is not short of places to eat, sleep and while away your evenings. You could stay at the Udo's Bandas and campsite near the Kenya Wildlife offices overlooking the Isiukhu Falls in Buyangu area, The Forest Rest House and Keep Center at Isicheno and The Sarova isle Resort. Be sure also to check out the Rivendell Gardens and the Rondo Retreat.
Lucy Maruhi is a Tour Operator and has been researching and reporting on Travel, Tour and Vacation for years. For more information on Kakamega Forest Reserve, visit her site at Kakamega Forest Reserve
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By: Lucy Maruhi

>>How to Make Sure the Hummingbirds Find You This Spring

How to Make Sure the Hummingbirds
Find You This Spring

It's spring at last, and here in Southern Colorado, it seems we've been waiting a long time to glimpse our favorite wild bird, the hummingbird. We just love watching these tiny, lithe creatures of such vivid color outside our window. There have been a couple summers here that we've had twenty different hummingbirds at our three feeders. We had to refill them every day just to keep up!

We're fortunate to have very good soil in our yard, while most of this part of the country is poor, rocky soil. This makes growing perennials easier and more bountiful. I say easier because we are in a high-desert climate and must water constantly to keep things green.

Those two things: certain flowers, and running the sprinkler system help attract the hummingbirds to our yard. With their specially designed beaks and long tongues, they just love the flowers suited to their anatomy. Our columbines, torch lilies and butterfly bushes are like giant billboards advertising a hummingbird-friendly play land.

We've tried to plant perennials that bloom at different times throughout the summer so that we always have something to attract the hummingbirds. What a difference it has made. We usually get to enjoy the hummingbirds at least a full month before they discover our next door neighbors yard.

While you may not need to run a sprinkler in the summer months like we must, you can install a fountain or bird bath that will attract just as many hummingbirds. They love the splash and spray of the water and we've seen them many times hovering and dipping over the nearby river where the water hits the rocks and sprays up.

Besides the flowers and water, we offer our hummingbirds feeders filled with sugar water. While you can purchase commercial food mix, it is less expensive to make your own at home and it's very simple to do. Here's the recipe:

-One part sugar

-Four parts water

-Boil for 2 minutes

-Cool and fill feeders made for hummingbirds

There is no need to add food coloring to the feed and it may actually be detrimental to the birds. Why take the chance?

A little trick we've learned over the years is to put a short piece of transparent tape around the stem that holds the bee guard in place. That way it keeps the larger, more aggressive birds like the Orioles from pulling out the bee guard and guzzling the food.

We've tried many different designs of feeders and found that the birds like the ones with hard plastic "flowers"' surrounding the bee guards. We've not had much luck with the drip-type feeders.

Be sure to rinse the feeders well with very warm water between use. It is not recommended to put any part of a hummingbird feeder in the dishwasher or use detergent. To make sure the feeders are perfectly clean before storing for the winter, we use a tiny bit of chlorine bleach and water. You must be sure to rinse the feeders very well if you do need to use bleach.

So if you're looking to attract beautiful hummingbirds to your yard, remember the flowers, the water and some food. You'll soon have your own flock of hummingbirds who return to your yard each year!
Cindy Dykstra writes for Article-DirectorySite.com where you can find articles on pets and animals and every other subject under the sun. Free content for your web site, blog or newsletter and free RSS feeds. Free article submission too! Visit http://www.Article-DirectorySite.com today.
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By: Cindy Dykstra

>>How To Build A Bird House

How To Build A Bird House

How To Build A Bird House - If you enjoy spending time around birds then you may want to build a birdhouse. Building a birdhouse is a great way to become a companion of birds. Birdhouses add attractiveness to any landscape. Crafting, designing and building birdhouses is a in-expensive hobby.

You need to construct a birdhouse that is easy to clean. It should be sturdy, cool, and rainproof as well. Remember, this is your birdhouse, so use your imagination; you will have something unique and all your own when your project is completed..

It is important not to use metal to build your birdhouse, not even nails; use non-toxic outdoor wood glue. Metal can become very hot when the sun is beating down on it, plus it can have very sharp edges. Wood is the best material to build a birdhouse. To keep water out of the entrance of the birdhouse you need the roof to pitch enough to shed water.

Add a couple small holes near the top of the birdhouse for ventilation on hot days. The bottom of the birdhouse should be constructed with screws, so it will be easy to take apart when you clean it.

When your bird house is built it is time to mount it. When mounting your birdhouse it is important to keep in mind predators, such as squirrels, cats and snakes. Place your bird house mount out of the range of jumping and climbing animals. The best mount for a birdhouse is PVC pipe which can be purchased inexpensively at your local home hardware supply store. Get an 8' long piece of PVC that is 3 or 4" in diameter. Also be sure and buy a "flange" that will fit into the PVC. When looking at a 'flange' from the side it has the shape of a man's dress hat, as one would also look at the dress hat from from it's side view. The round part of the 'hat' - or 'flange' slips down, about 2" into one end of the PVC pipe. The flat part of the 'hat' - or 'flange' should have a small hole pre-drilled in each corner. A large, approx. 12" x 12" piece of plywood is attached, to the flat part of the 'hat' or 'flange' with screws via the pre-drilled holes. Be sure this is placed in the middle of the 12" x 12 plywood. This will serve as your birdhouse base. Now turn this over and simply slide the round part of the 'hat' - or 'flange' into the end of your PVC pipe. On top of this securely mount your bird house. When you have moved your PVC to an upright mounting position, you would be looking upward, and see the screws that attached flange to your 12" x 12" base.

Now it's time to mount your bird house. Dig about an 18" hole and drop it in! Be sure and pack the dirt solidly back around the base to secure it. For added security you could pick up an inexpensive bag of ready mix cement. Just mix it with water, set the PVC in the middle of the hole and pour the cement evenly around it. It is a good idea if you could put your hands on a level to make sure your PVC stays vertically straight while working. That's all there is to it!

When you are ready to clean your bird house simple unscrew the 12" x 12" base mounting screws, slide off the base with it's attached birdhouse and clean it! When cleaned, replace the 12" x 12" base and reinsert your screws. Now wasn't that easy!

For more great information be sure and visit;


If you lightly coat the PVC pipe mount with in-expensive vegetable oil ants and other crawling insects will not be able to climb disturb the bird nest.

Don't forget to treat your feathered friend with feeders, bird baths or bird pond sprinkle the area with some wild flower seeds. When your wild flower are in bloom your feathered friend will provide you with constant delight. ~ Anthony Benjamin ~ http://www.mysecretsites.info
Anthony Benjamin is an avid world traveler, lover of nature and animals. He loves to write and share his wealth of information and adventures in his writings. His favorite place to retreat and write is his summer home, secluded high on a mountaintop in the Great Smoky Mountains. A visit to his website is a true delight: http://www.appalachian-treasures.com
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By: Anthony Benjamin

Friday, August 17, 2007

>>Where to Bird

Check out the CLO staff's favorite birding spots—our favorite birding locations across the country.

Where to Bird

Check out 50 favorite birding spots recommended by Cornell Lab of Ornithology staff.

  • What makes them special
  • Geographic location
  • Habitat description
  • When to go
  • Birds to look for

Our birding hotspots run the gamut from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to the more intimate Malloryville Nature Conservancy Preserve near Dryden, NY. Each of these areas offers the chance to see both rare and locally common birds in a beautiful natural setting.


Resurrection Bay (MP)

Location: Southcentral Alaska
Why Special: Long days for birding, incredible scenery, salmon bakes.
Habitat: Open water surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and coniferous forests
When To Go: Summer
Birds to Look For: Ancient, Marbled, and Kittlitz’s murrelets, Arctic Tern, Horned and Tufted puffins, Rhinoceros Auklet, Red-faced Cormorant, Spruce Grouse

Gambell (JF)

Location: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Why Special: one million+ birds in view (and in motion) 24-hours a day during June; Native American village, bowhead whale and seal economy; remote access, with full exposure to the awesome biological richness of the Bering Sea
Habitat: Rocky tundra, pebble beaches, cliffs
When To Go: June
Birds to Look For: All 4 species of eiders, Yellow-billed Loon, Emperor Goose, Parakeet, Crested and Least auklets, Horned Puffin, numerous shorebirds on breeding grounds, Siberian vagrants in late May and early June.

Volcanos NP (JG)

Location: Hawai'i, Hawai'i
Why Special: Where else can you see a tropical rainforest, volcanic scrub, a tropical ocean and a live volcano in the US? (along with their associated birds)
Habitat: Rain forest, dry forest, scrub, grassland, beach and ocean
When To Go: Anytime
Birds to Look For: Nene, Akiapolaau, Elepaio, Omao, Palila, Apapane, I'iwi, and more.

Ellensburg, Washington area (WH)

Location: East of Seattle, Washington on Interstate 90
Why Special: This isn’t a single site, but a general area that packs a range of habitats into a small area, with a variety of species present that have fairly restricted ranges or habitat preferences. You can travel quickly from lowland sagebrush (Sage Thrasher) up to Ponderosa Pine forest (White-headed Woodpecker), see American Dippers in snow-fed streams, and scan cliff faces for nesting Prairie Falcons and other raptors.
Habitat: grassland, sage-brush, coniferous forests, aspen poplar woodland
When To Go: May, June
Birds to Look For: White-headed Woodpecker, Sage Thrasher, Prairie Falcon

Olympic Peninsula (JG)

Location: Washington
Why Special: Western birds and if the birds aren't there, the landscape more then makes up for it.
Habitat: Ocean, coniferous and deciduous forest, tundra
When To Go: Spring and summer
Birds to Look For: Can't narrow it down!

Hoh Rainforest (BC)

Location: Hoh River Valley, Olympic National Park, WA
Why Special: Amazing temperate rainforest
Habitat: Temperate rainforest
When To Go: Summer
Birds to Look For: Rufous Hummingbird, Gray Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee and the beautiful ethereal tones of Varied Thrush singing from the tops of enormous Sitka Spruce

Willapa Bay (JE)

Location: south coast of Washington State
Why Special: Huge tidal mudflats attract a large number of shorebirds, and support a thriving and tasty oyster industry.
Habitat: Mudflat, mudflat, mudflat (also open beach at Leadbetter State Park)
When To Go: late April through May, and late August to September
Birds to Look For: Large flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers, Whimbrel and Black-bellied Plover can be seen near Bay Center, WA. Also throughout the bay are large flocks of peeps (perhaps best seen from Leadbetter State Park, WA); almost any species of shore-bird expected in the area could be found here. Parasitic Jaegers sometimes harass the Caspian Terns that are common; peregrines go for shorebirds; Wilson's Warbler and Rufous Hummingbird nest in the thickets along the bay; and huge flocks of Sanderling can be found on the open beach on the west side of the state park.

Malheur Natl Wildlife Refuge (JE)

Location: Malheur Co, Oregon
Why Special: A huge wetland in the middle of dry Great Basin country, this site attracts both migrants and breeders that are not easily found in other areas of the state.
Habitat: Large marshes, sage-brush, and some riparian woodland.
When To Go: Go in mid-spring and fall for migrants, and all summer for breeding wetland and sagebrush birds.
Birds to Look For: Several oases, such as the Refuge Headquarters, attract huge concentrations of migrating passerine birds when conditions are right, including western rarities such as Black-and-White Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and many others. At times the trees drip with 100s of Western Tanagers, Bullock's Orioles and Lazuli Buntings. Many shorebird species pass through, as well as hawks. Long-billed Curlew, Wilson's Phalarope and Avocets breed. Ferruginous and Swainson's hawks, as well as Golden Eagle, are also resident. Riparian habitat attracts Ash-throated Flycatcher, Great-Horned Owl, and others.

Waldo Lake (JE)

Location: Lane County, Oregon
Why Special: Amazing Scenery, good potential for boreal birds
Habitat: Mountain forest, on the wetter side of the Cascade Mountains, often including burned areas. The lake itself is one of the clearest in the world.
When To Go: Go in the breeding season, when the passes are open and the birds are active
Birds to Look For: Red Crossbill, Townsend's Warbler, Townsend's Solitaire, Black-backed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Black Swift (at nearby Salt Creek Falls)

Steens Mountain (JE)

Location: Malheur Co. Oregon
Why Special: A huge, tipped block of stone towering over the Alvord Desert at approx. 9700 feet, with sagebrush habitat on its slopes and stunning scenery.
Habitat: Sagebrush, alpine habitat
When To Go: Any time in the spring, fall or summer, when there's not too much snow.
Birds to Look For: Greater Sage-Grouse, Black Rosy-Finch, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, other migrating raptors.

South Jetty of the Columbia River (JE)

Location: Clatsop Co, Oregon
Why Special: A great place both for shorebirds and seabirds, as well as a great migrant trap for anything.
Habitat: Open Coast, Tidal estuary, and coastal shore pine woodland.
When To Go: Almost any time of year. Bad weather sometimes means good birds!
Birds to Look For: During migration, this is a great place for shorebirds. The estuary attracts large flocks of peeps including Baird's and the rarer Semipalmated Sandpiper, while the rocky jetty hosts Black Turnstone and Wandering Tattler. Migrating alcids and loons, grebes and shearwaters fly by in sometimes mind-boggling numbers, and the river itself, as well as the shore, can host a wide variety of gulls. Wrentits and sometimes rare wandering passerines can be found in the woods, and the jetty was one of the spots to host a Bristle-thighed Curlew in Oregon in 1996.

Panoche Valley (MP)

Location: Central California
Why Special: Easily birded area for birds with limited ranges
Habitat: Semi-arid grasslands, oak-juniper woodlands.
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For:
Yellow-billed Magpie, Tricolored Blackbird, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Chukar.

San Gabriel Mountains (AW)

Location: Outside Los Angeles, California
Why Special: The drive through the mountains leads through a great variety of habitat, yet it’s very close to an urban area.
Habitat: Desert, riparian, upper-elevation coniferous forest
When To Go: The birding here is good year-round, but in winter, many higher-elevation roads are inaccessible due to snow.
Birds to Look For: White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Quail, Pygmy Nuthatch, Clark’s Nutcracker, Long-eared Owl

Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP (JG)

Location: California
Why Special: Birds and TREES
Habitat: Coniferous and deciduous forest
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: White-headed Woodpecker: wow, what a bird, especially when seen on a giant sequoia!

Monterey Bay (WH)

Location: Coastal California southwest of San Francisco
Why Special: Imagine having to avert your gaze from a swarm of ocean-going birds visiting the northern hemisphere from their Austral nesting grounds in order see a blue whale or sea turtle. For a typically land-locked bird watcher the richness of life on the open ocean can be surprising. On the west coast of North America oceanic birds are most accessible on pelagic birding trips on Monterey Bay, most of which leave from the city of Monterey. The on-shore birding isn’t bad either, with birds like Wrentit and Yellow-billed Magpie present in appropriate habitats.
Habitat: open ocean, coastal California scrub
When To Go: August to October (the bird species present vary dramatically through the year)
Birds to Look For: Black-footed Albatross, shearwaters, storm-petrels

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (TG)

Location: Near Huntington Beach, California
Habitat: Coastal wetland
Birds to Look For: Numerous shorebirds, terns, waterfowl, Black-necked Stilt, Brown Pelicans, etc. Also has Peregrine Falcon.

Back Bay Newport (also called Upper Newport Bay) (TG)

Location: Southern California
Habitat: tidal estuary
When To Go: autumn through spring
Birds to Look For: attracts a wide range of waterfowl, shorebirds, rails, raptors, songbirds.

Point Reyes (TG)

Location: California (north of San Francisco)
Why Special: A great place with a wide range of habitats; Point Reyes Bird Observatory has a major trapping and banding operation there.
Habitat: coastal cliffs, beaches, woodlands
When To Go: migration

Bear River National Wildlife Refuge (WH)

Location: west of Brigham City, Utah
Why Special: Imagine standing on one spot and slowing turning around, seeing literally dozens of American Avocet nests, while flocks of White-faced Ibis fly against a backdrop of rugged mountains. Western and Clark’s Grebes can be watched in their courtship dashes across the water surface. The concentration of waterfowl, shorebirds and larger waders in the right seasons is amazing, especially in contrast to the more arid habitats typical of the Great Basin.
Habitat: freshwater marsh, wet grassland, desert scrub
When To Go: spring, summer, fall
Birds to Look For: Snowy Plover, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe, Long-billed Curlew

Rocky Mountain National Park, (MP) (TG)

Location: Estes Park, CO
Why Special: There’s nothing like compiling your day’s checklist of birds at the Estes Park Brewery. (MP) I love to spend time in the high country here, above the treeline in an area of alpine tundra; can see herds of elk (TG)
Habitat: Tundra, Ponderosa Pine and Quaking Aspen, riparian areas
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: Rosy-finches, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Blue Grouse, Black-backed and Three-toed woodpeckers, Clark's Nutcracker; Prairie Falcon, and on the rivers are American Dippers.


Saguaro National Park (east unit) and adjacent sites (WH)

Location: Just west of Tucson, Arizona
Why Special: This part of Saguaro National Park is as good as any to explore, but nestled on one side is the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum in which wild birds are as tame and approachable as the captive ones. The combination of interpretive efforts of the national park and Desert Museum provide a thorough introduction not just to desert birds but the Sonoran Desert in general.
Habitat: Sonoran desert
When To Go: any time of year…just bird early in the day (high midday temps)
Birds to Look For: Black-chinned Sparrow (winter), Greater Roadrunner, Scott’s Oriole (summer), Costa’s Hummingbird, Gambel’s Quail

East side of Huachuca Mountains (WH)

Location: Southeast of Tucson, Arizona; Sierra Vista is the closest larger town
Why Special: There are several “sky islands” rising out of the desert of southeastern Arizona all of which hold several species of principally Mexican bird species, but the Huachuca Mountains are my favorite because there are several different areas to explore, all with a minimum of driving. You can go quickly from the San Pedro River (Green Kingfisher), through the riparian forest along mountain streams (Elegant Trogon) up to mountain coniferous forests (Hepatic Tanager) as the day heats up. This mountain range also holds the only regularly observable Buff-bellied Flycatchers in the United States.
Habitat: desert grassland, riparian forest, pine forest
When To Go: May, June, July
Birds to Look For: Zone-tailed Hawk, Buff-bellied Flycatcher, “Mexican” hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Painted Redstart

Mogollon Rim, Arizona (WH)

Location: South and east of Flagstaff
Why Special: The plateau that the Grand Canyon cuts through has an abrupt end with a sharp drop south of Flagstaff; this drop is the Mogollon Rim. The elevation of the plateau, and rapid elevation drop make for an interesting juxtaposition of birds. You can watch a “northern” Orange-crowned Warbler, right next to Virginia’s Warbler and Red-faced Warbler. Saw-whet and Flammulated owl can be sleeping a stone’s throw away from each other. Evening Grosbeaks and Lesser Goldfinch can be seen on the same day. Red-breasted, White-breasted, and Pygmy nuthatches are all present. The deep canyons that cut into the Rim hold Black Hawks (for example north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon).
Habitat: Pine, fir, and aspen forest; sycamore-lined riparian forest
When To Go: May, June
Birds to Look For: Black Hawk, Flammulated Owl, Red-faced Warbler, Virginia’s Warbler

Chiricahua Mountains/Cave Creek Canyon /Sky Islands region (MP) (JG) (BC)

Location: Southeastern Arizona around Portal
Why Special: Fantastic array of pink granite slopes and access to all of the SE Arizona specialties in a variety of habitats.
Habitat: Pine-oak woodlands, coniferous forests surrounded by semi-desert grasslands and scrub
When To Go: Summer
Birds to Look For: Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart and Olive warbler, Mexican Chickadee, hummingbirds. Easy views of Elegant Trogon, chance to see Eared Quetzal and other niceties like Mexican Jay and Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher

Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (BC)

Location: Planet Ranch area, near Lake Havasu, AZ
Why Special: Amazing spot
Habitat: Beautiful stretch of cottonwood- and willow-lined river
When To Go: Early summer
Birds to Look For: breeding Black Phoebe, Phainopepla, Lucy's Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher and California Black Rail, all in surprising abundance

Palm Canyon, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (BC)

Location: near Quartzite, AZ
Why Special: Beautiful desert views, migrant trap in spring, also amazing sunsets
Habitat: desert
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: Scott's Orioles and Black-throated Sparrow

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (MR)

Location: An hour or so south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Why Special: Tens of thousands of overwintering Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese, closely approachable, as well as awesome mountainous scenery and sunrises/sunsets
Habitat: Man-made wetlands and farmland adjacent to the Rio Grande, surrounded by high, cold desert ("Chihuahuan desert") against a backdrop of mountains
When To Go: Best between Thanksgiving and early February. Time of day: get there before dawn to watch the Snow Geese lift off en masses. Get there late afternoon to watch the cranes and geese return to the roost pools.
Birds to Look For: Greater Sandhill Cranes (and a few Lesser Sandhill Cranes): 10,000 to 20,000 depending on year; Snow Geese: sometimes 40,000+ (a few Ross's Geese too); numerous ducks (Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, etc); many raptors e.g. Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, American Kestrel; closely approachable Greater Roadrunners; Gambel's Quail, Ring-necked Pheasant; many songbirds, good place for Say's Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, etc. (Visitor's Center feeds birds daily)

Gila National Forest - Black Range and Pinos Altos Mountains (AW)

Location: Near Silver City in southwestern New Mexico
Why Special: In summer, a gorgeous place to look for southwestern specialties.
Habitat: Ponderosa pine, oak-juniper, riparian.
When To Go: Summer, for the specialty breeders.
Birds to Look For: Olive Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart, Virginia’s Warbler, Lucy’s Warbler, Greater Pewee


Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (WH)

South coast of Texas, near Brownsville
Why Special: Most of the southern Texan habitats, complete with their Mexican specialties, are present in this National Wildlife Refuge, with grassland and coastal habitats present that are not found in any of the other famous Lower Rio Grande birding locations. Within the refuge boundaries it is possible to see a wide assortment of birds, ranging from northern and prairie migrant waterfowl and waders, through southeastern waders like Rosette Spoonbill and Reddish Egret, to Mexican “exotics” like Green Jay and Plain Chachalaca. This sort of diversity cannot be matched anywhere else in southern Texas in a single day of birding at one location.
Habitat: thorn scrub, grassland, coastal beach
When To Go: winter; mornings and afternoons
Birds to Look For: Green Jay, Crested Caracara, White-tailed Hawk, waders, waterfowl, Plain Chachalaca

Bentson-Rio Grande Valley State Park (WH) (AW)

Location: Lower Rio Grande River, near McAllen, Texas
Why Special: Accessible to the public not just during the day, but also at night when birds like Common Pauraque can easily be seen by walking the roads in the park. (WH) It’s one of those legendary birding places that has earned its reputation. The park no longer allows trailer or RV camping but numerous trailer and RV campgrounds are available nearby. Tent camping is still allowed. A World Birding Center is located near the entrance to the park and WBC staff can help visitors enjoy the nearby mind-blowing birding. I remember arriving right before dusk near the tree a pair of Elf Owls were using. There were dozens of birders already there, with scopes and cameras ready. When the tiny owl popped up into the cavity, in full view, there was a collective, “Ooohh.” Added bonus: saw my first free-ranging tarantula here (headed straight for the women’s bathrooms!) (AW) Habitat: Riparian forest, thorn scrub
When To Go: Winter and early spring
Birds to Look For: Elf Owl, Hook-billed Kite, Common Pauraque, Plain Chachalaca, Neotropical Cormorant, Harris’ Hawk, Tropical Parula, Common Pauraque

Chapinga and Salineno

Location: Texas, just south of Falcon Lake
Why Special: These two locations are ideal for birders looking for great birds but are unable to move around as well as when they were young. Look for the "bird lady" at Chapinga and the beautiful but natural birding locations right on the Rio Grande River.
Just south of Chapinga is a small trailer parker where the Dewinds welcome birders each winter. The area is now owned by the Valley Land Fund.
Why Special: The great mix of both common and rare birds, please the laid back approach.
When to go: November to March is the most productive.
Birds to Look For: Here's a sample.

Big Bend NP (JG)

Location: Texas
Why Special: The variety of habitats makes this a great place to bird and hike.
Habitat: River, desert, coniferous and deciduous forest, desert scrub
When To Go: Spring and fall (when the agaves are blooming)
Birds to Look For: Quail, Colima Warbler, Painted Redstart, Gray Vireo, Zone-tailed Hawk, western sparrows, Lucifer and Blue-throated hummingbirds.

High Island (JG)

Location: Texas
Why Special: If you time it right, I don't know any place that will give you better/closer looks at warblers.
Habitat: Hammock forest, fresh and salt marsh and beach
When To Go: Spring migration immediately after a storm front has gone through the gulf.
Birds to Look For: Spring migrants, warblers including Swainson's, grosbeaks, tanagers, orioles, cuckoos, etc.

Santa Ana NWR (JG)

Location: Texas
Why Special:
Never know what you'll see here, always seems to have a rarity or two.
Habitat: Scrub forest, grassland, ponds
When To Go:
Winter and late summer, though I'd go anytime
Birds to Look For: Altimira Oriole, Hook-billed Kite, Ringed Kingfisher, and who knows?

South Padre Island Convention Center (WH)

Location: South Texas coast, northeast of Brownsville on South Padre Island
Why Special: Rails, particularly the elusive Yellow Rail and Black Rail, are much sought after by birders. At this location it is possible to see every single species of U.S. rail, particularly in winter, using a couple of short boardwalks built into the salt marshes that lie between South Padre Island and mainland Texas. Sora and Clapper Rail are particularly visible in winter…even Clapper Rails eating Sora can be seen at the Convention Center. Also Reddish Egret and Roseate Spoonbill.
Habitat: Coastal saltmarsh
When To Go: Winter, best time determined by the tides (higher is better for flushing the rails out of the salt marsh).
Birds to Look For: Rails, herons, Roseate Spoonbill

Quivira NWR/Cheyenne Bottoms (MP)

Location: Great Bend, KS
Why Special: Wetland habitat surrounded by grasslands and agricultural fields attracts an incredible diversity of birds.
Habitat: Salt marsh, sand dunes, prairie grasses, tree lines.
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: Migrant passerines; waterfowl, shorebirds and waders including Snowy Plover, phalaropes, and Black Rail

Lake Fayetteville (MP)

Location: Fayetteville, AR
Why Special: Nice mix of bird species all year round, easy access and walks.
Habitat: Open water, old fields, bottomland and upland forests
When To Go: Year round
Birds to Look For: American Woodcock, warblers, vireos, thrushes, and other songbirds in spring, Bald Eagle, Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks and others in winter, sparrows in fall and winter

Centerton Fish Hatchery (MP)

Location: Centerton, AR
Why Special: Easy access, great looks at expected shorebirds and the occasional rarity, western vagrants
Habitat: Man-made ponds and mudflats surrounded by agricultural fields, stands of deciduous trees, shrubby areas.
When To Go: Fall, Winter, Spring
Birds to Look For: Shorebirds and raptors in migration, waterfowl in winter, warblers and vireos in spring, sparrows in fall/winter

Willow Slough State Fish and Wildlife Area (JG)

Location: Indiana
Why Special: A great variety of birds (this is where I started birdwatching)
Habitat: Marsh, swamp, coniferous and deciduous forest, grassland
When To Go: Early spring to early summer
Birds to Look For: ducks, rails, eastern migrants, western vagrants.

Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area (JG)

Location: Indiana
Why Special: Sandhill Cranes by the thousands
Habitat: Forest, grassland, agricultural fields and ponds
When To Go: Mid-October to November
Birds to Look For: Sandhill Cranes

Hawk Ridge (JE)

Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Why Special: Incredible hawk migration during most of fall.
Habitat: Mixed decid/coniferous woods around the ridge.
When To Go: Go in late September, October or early November.
Birds to Look For: Hawk Ridge is at the south end of the North Shore of Lake Superior, which funnels migrants down the shore in fall. Very large (100,000+) movements of Broad-winged Hawks have occurred here, as well as large movements of Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks. This is a reliable spot late in the season for Northern Goshawk and Golden Eagle. Passerine migration can be quite good, with large numbers of birds (sometimes including crossbills and Evening Grosbeak) moving through. Early in fall, large numbers of Common Nighthawks pass by as well.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (JE)

Location: Bloomington, Minnesota (in the Saint Paul/Minneapolis area)
Why Special: It's long and it's urban, and is therefore easily accessible. It protects habitat both for resident breeding species such as Prothontary Warbler and Dickcissel, and for a massive number of migrants of all types, from ducks to wood-warblers.
Habitat: Covers a wide range of habitats, ranging from backwater marshes of the Minnesota River to upland prairies and remnant and restored oak savannah.
When To Go: Go almost any time - there are gulls in the winter at Black Dog Lake, warbler fallouts in spring and fall, and breeding marshbirds in summer.
Birds to Look For: Nesting Prothonotary Warbler, Virginia Rail, Least Bittern, Scarlet Tanager, Dickcissel, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon. Migrant: Over 20 species of wood-warblers, ducks galore. Winter: Gulls of several species, including Minnesota rarities like Iceland Gull, Thayer's Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Glaucous Gull. Large concentrations of wintering waterfowl, including Common Merganser, Snow Geese, and goldeneye.

Park Point (Minnesota Point) (JE)

Location: Duluth, Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Why Special: A great migrant trap in fall and spring, both for birds on the lake (Lake Superior), and migrating passerines moving up the shore.
Habitat: Open beach, lake, park, parking lot, and a strip of woods down the middle.
When To Go: The point is best during migration, and is worth checking both early in spring and late in fall.
Birds to Look For: This is one of the best places in Minnesota to find Red-throated Loon. Shorebirds may turn up on the beach, and on the bay side of the point, and scotors (tough to find in MN) may be found in either the bay on the south side or the lake side. Foggy mornings in spring sometimes cause a buildup of migrating passerines on the point, waiting for better weather to cross the lake, and some mornings have 20+ warblers (including Mourning, Golden-winged, and Connecticut), and many other passerine birds.

McGregor Marsh (JE)

Location: McGregor, Aitkin Co, Minnesota
Why Special: A western oasis in eastern Minnesota, with Yellow Rails and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows
Habitat: Sedge marsh
When To Go: summer, when both of these birds are breeding and calling
Birds to Look For: Yellow Rail is very reliable here, as is Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. For the former, you have to much further north to find them again, and the latter, north and far west.


Bald Head Cliff (AW)

Location: York, Maine
Why Special: One of the southernmost rocky peninsulas along the Maine coast, this site is well-known as a guaranteed location to see Harlequin Ducks at close range from late fall through early spring. The area abounds in other sea ducks and wintering waterbirds and is a great place to watch for alcids and Black-legged Kittiwakes in winter. The odd thing about the site is that it is the location of a hotel complex that is little-used in winter so you can drive up and set up a scope near the ocean and still be close to your car for cover. On our 10-hour drive from Maine to Ithaca, NY, after our annual family Christmas holiday visit, we almost always stop here for our fix of harlequins in their incredible colors.
Habitat: Rocky coast, open ocean
When To Go: Winter.
Birds to Look For: Harlequin Duck, Common Eider, King Eider (occasional), White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck

Misery Township (AW)

Location: Northwestern Maine
Why Special: This is “bleak” northern wilderness—just right for those highly sought northern birds. It has personal meaning because my first date with the man who is now my husband was a Christmas Bird Count to Misery. It’s even more memorable because the heater boxes in his car at the time—a little VW bug—were rusted out, so we had to choose between carbon monoxide poisoning and freezing our toes (our trip to “Misery” was more than a trip to a township!)
Habitat: Spruce fir forests, tracts of deciduous northern hardwood forests.
When To Go: Year-round, but in winter, Great Gray Owls have visited the area.
Birds to Look For: Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, White-winged Crossbill. In winter, Great Gray Owl (sometimes), Northern Shrike.

Monhegan Island, Maine (AW)

Location: 10 miles off the coast of Maine. Commercial ferries leave out of Tenants Harbor and Boothbay Harbor.
Why Special: In spring and fall, it is a haven for migrants and rare species. Huge numbers of migrants alight all over the island to rest during migration. There are always rarities among them. In winter, it’s a great place to look for alcids, but very cold with whipping winds, so bundle up! Monhegan is such a great birding spot that we spent our honeymoon here.
Habitat: Rocky coast, open ocean, spruce forests, low-growing island vegetation
When To Go: Winter, but especially spring and fall. Throughout the migration seasons, there are lots of birders around so there are many eyes for finding birds.
Birds to Look For: Keep your eyes peeled for anything. The island has had Ivory Gull (in winter), Swallow-tailed Kite, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Clay-colored Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, to name just a few.

Goose Rocks Beach (AW)

Location: Kennebunkport, Maine
Why Special: One of few Maine breeding locations for the endangered Piping Plover and Least Tern. Roseate and Artic terns have bred on the offshore islands, and a small colony of Common Terns have also bred nearby. I spent a few summers working as an innkeeper’s assistant at the only inn near the beach, and birding along the beach after work was always a treat. Fortunately, the residents know about the birds and their plight and a program is in place to educate the public and protect the birds, sponsored by Maine Audubon.
Habitat: Sandy beach, with small offshore islands and a tidal river
When To Go: In summer, seeing Least Terns and Piping Plovers are a virtual guarantee, especially if you’re willing to stroll the beach. In winter, sea ducks are always around.
Birds to Look For: Least Terns and Common Terns (especially diving for fish in the tidal river), Roseate Tern, Arctic Tern, Piping Plover

Perry Stream and surrounds (SS)

Location: Pittsburg, NH
Why Special: Relatively undisturbed example of northern yellow birch, spruce forest.
Habitat: Bog habitat, boreal forests, birches, mature northern hardwoods, and recently logged areas
When To Go: During peak of blackfly season in May
Birds to Look For: Northern boreal-nesting warblers, Lincoln Sparrows, 3-toed woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadees, and more

Squam Lake (SS)

Location: Central New Hampshire
Why Special: Abundance of loons
Habitat: Northern clearwater lake that's not overdeveloped with miles of undeveloped shoreline, several sanctuaries, an abundance of nesting loons
When To Go: June is the best but anytime will do
Birds to Look For: Loons and a host of central NH breeding birds

McCrillis Hill (SS)

Location: Center Harbor, NH
Why Special: It's fairyland in the spring--an aspen haven
Habitat: Aspen groves,old fields, and mature northern hardwood forests.
When To Go: May 21
Birds to Look For: Phenomenal place for neotropical migrants

Name Katama Farm (BC)

Location: Edgartown, MA
Why Special: This beautiful preserved meadow is also a stone’s throw from the ocean, with nice salt marsh grasses. Home to breeding Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows. Nice spot to catch views of fall migrant shorebirds.
Habitat: meadow, salt marsh grasses
When To Go: Summer and fall
Birds to Look For: Upland Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover; hunting Northern Harrier

Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge (Parker River) (SS)

Location: Massachusetts
Why Special: Undisturbed barrier beach
Habitat: Beach, sand dunes and salt marsh
When To Go: Anytime
Birds to Look For: Shorebirds in summer, Snowy Owls in winter

Cape Poge and Wasque on Chappaquidick (BC)

Location: Martha's Vineyard, MA. Southeast corner of the island fronting Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean
Why Special: Great views of both land and water birds.
Habitat: Salt Marsh edged with islands of Scrub Oaks, vaccinium and Pitch Pine
When To Go: Fall
Birds to Look For: shorebirds, sea ducks and loons, land views of Northern Gannets and jaegers; tons of migrant warblers in the Fall

Mays Point Pool at Montezuma NWR (BC)

Location: East Seneca Falls, NY
Why Special: A nice open mudflat with great views of migrant shorebirds, often offering several species in the same scope field.
Habitat: mudflats
When To Go: Late summer
Birds to Look For: Stilt Sandpiper, Dunlin, Marbled Godwit and several “peeps” (sandpipers.

Niagara Falls (AW)

Location: Near Buffalo, NY
Why Special: The gull capital of the world. An important area for Bonaparte’s and other gulls (an estimated 20% or more of the world’s population of Bonaparte’s Gulls use the area).
Habitat: C’mon, this is Niagara Falls! A fresh-water river featuring some of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world. The falls stir up the water below, and the result is a feeding frenzy.
When To Go: October through December are the gulliest months.
Birds to Look For: Gulls—Franklin’s, Sabine’s, Black-headed, Glaucous, Iceland, Little, Black-legged Kittiwake, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed. Look for other rare birds along the river; a Pacific Loon was found here one year, for example.

Hawthorn Orchard (CTH)

Location: East Ithaca, NY
Why Special: Phenomenal migrant trap during spring migration under normal migratory conditions. Insectivorous birds descend to feed on the millions of insects attracted to the hawthorn florets; nectar-eating birds descend to feed upon the ample nectar food supply provided by the florets.
Habitat: 75% of the area is covered in solid hawthorn trees, with the rest consisting of buckthorn, apple, pear, white pine, and honeysuckle. This hawthorn orchard reached this state of maturity by selective grazing of cattle, years ago, and is kept in this state by continuous selective grazing by white-tailed deer.
When To Go: Mother's Day weekend (mid-May)
Birds to Look For: Tennesee Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, plus many of the more common migrant species. Other goodies seen there include Golden-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Whip-poor-will, and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. High numbers on a single day have been seen of Nashville (30+), Northern Parula (20+), Black-throated Blue (25+), Bay-breasted (6+), Cape May (6+), Mourning (3), Wilson's (3), Yellow-rumped (70+) Warblers, and American Redstart (25+).
Note: Thanks to the Cayuga Bird Club, there is a website available with information, pictures, bird list, directions, aerial shot, etc.

Malloryville Nature Conservancy Preserve (AW)

Location: Technically part of Dryden, NY, between Ithaca and Cortland.
Why Special: A little bit of northern forest within a 10-minute drive of northeast Ithaca
Habitat: Hemlocks and a small bog
When To Go: Year-round, though the trails are a little tough in winter without snowshoes or skis.
Birds to Look For: Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ruffed Grouse are among the breeders. We’ve had Winter Wren and Common Redpoll here.

Mundy Wildflower Garden (BC)

Location: Ithaca NY
Why Special: Great spot for a quiet walk through tall deciduous woods along a babbling creek, as well as a good fall migrant trap for species below.
When To Go: Fall
Birds to Look For: Swainson's Thrush, lots of warblers and several sparrows

Lake Ontario Lakefront (MP)

Location: Rochester, NY
Why Special: The stretch from Irondequoit Bay to Braddock Bay is worth several stops to view enormous rafts of waterfowl and gulls.
Habitat: Open water, marsh, mudflats and beach
When To Go: Winter
Birds to Look For: Tufted Duck, arctic gulls, all three jaegers, Snowy Owl.

Hawk Mountain (TG)

Why Special: I also love this place, for similar reasons as Cape May, though the habitat is completely different.
Mountain ridge with forest all around
When To Go: Fall and spring migration
Birds to Look For: Migrating hawks

Cape May (TG)

Location: New Jersey
Why Special: As a raptor freak, this is a heavenly place to be in early October when hordes of Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, and other favorite hawks of mine are blasting through. There are also lots of migrating songbirds in spring and fall, though you don't see the huge flights of raptors in the spring that you do in the fall
Habitat: Seashore, coastal marshes
When To Go: (Spring) and fall migration
Birds to Look For: Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, and other hawks

Turkey Point (BC)

Location: Cumberland County, NJ
Why Special: Great spring migrant spot and great place to listen to nocturnal migrant flyovers.
Habitat: Deciduous woods abutting open expanses of Salt marsh
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: warblers, vireos, cuckoos, Black Rails, clattering Clapper Rails and a huge Black-crowned Night-Heron flyover at dusk

Parvin State Park (BC)

Location: southern NJ
Why Special: Labyrinth of trails provides a really nice place to easily see spring migrants.
Habitat: Mixed pine and deciduous forest with blackwater streams, wetland hollows
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: Prothonotary Warbler and Summer Tanager

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (MP)

Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia
Why Special: Diversity of habitats, variety of birds, great seafood. Close proximity to other worthwhile stops: Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, Kiptopeke State Park, and Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel.
Habitat: Open ocean, salt marshes, beaches and dunes, pine-dominated woodlands
When To Go: Fall, Winter, Spring
Birds to Look For: Migrating shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors, pelagic species and gulls, Saltmarsh and Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows, an incredible assemblage of Snow Geese

Monticello Park (MP)

Location: Alexandria, VA
Why Special: 15-acre park in developed area with incredible diversity of warblers. You can sit just a few yards away as they forage and bath in the creek – you’re able to really watch the individual, not just tick off the species.
Habitat: Tall deciduous trees, open understory, creek.
When To Go: Spring
Birds to Look For: Warblers, vireos, thrushes, other passerines

Block Island (SS)

Location: Rhode Island
Why Special: Windy island habitat with an abundance of natural areas and miles of beaches for ideal birding.
Habitat: Mix of sandy beaches, tidal feeding habitats, bluffs, saltwater fields and meadows, with a sprinkling of dense island forests
When To Go: Fall
Birds to Look For: Shorebirds, migrating warblers, peregrines, harriers


Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (WH)

Location: East of Naples, southwestern Florida
Why Special: Corkscrew sticks in my mind because of the approachability of the birds that are there and the old-growth cypress swamp that serves as their backdrop. It’s literally possible to see birds like Anhingas or night-herons a few feet beside, over or even under you. The birds’ tameness lets you not just see a bird, but really watch it and learn what it does for a living.
Habitat: southeastern pine forest, cypress swamp
When To Go: March, April
Birds to Look For: Swallow-tailed Kite (spring/summer), herons, Wood Stork, Painted Bunting (winter)

Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park (EIE)

Location: South Florida, Homestead near U.S.1
Why Special: The large diversity of both aquatic and land birds, and that they are so tame and close that is the best place in the US to see in detail the iris color differences between species and among ages in birds!
Habitat: Sawgrass marsh, wet prairie/slough, swamp forest, willow and cattail marshes, alligator holes, hardwood hammocks. Within the sawgrass marsh are channels and ponds of deeper water that contain water year round, except in the driest years. The wider, deeper channels of water are called sloughs, while the smaller ponds are often maintained by alligators and thus are called gator holes.
When To Go: January to March when you have local breeders and lots of migrants such as ducks and passerines. Go early in the morning when there are few tourist and few mosquitos
Birds to Look For: Anhinga, Limpkin, Sora, Glossy Ibis, Purple Gallinule, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis

Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge (AW)

Location: Titusville, Florida
Why Special: This place is saturated with birds and other wildlife, especially during migration and winter. We visited during the Space Coast Birding Festival in November when our son was only 3 _ months old and especially enjoyed cruising around the Black Point Wildlife Drive. Along with hundreds of herons and egrets and ducks, we watched a family of otters cavorting up the waterway near our car.
Habitat: Wetlands and grassy palm savannah.
When To Go: Fall through spring.
Birds to Look For: Roseate Spoonbill, White Pelican, Anhinga, many species of ducks, shorebirds, herons and egrets, terns, etc.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary (CC)

Location: Dauphin Island, AL
Why Special: Great beach-side birding in a beautiful setting, huge fallouts of migrants
Habitat: lots of habitat types - fresh water lake, beaches, swamp, pine forest, dunes, and hardwoods
When To Go: during spring migration, just before a storm
Birds to Look For: every neotropical migrant!

Little St. Simon's Island (JF) (SS)

Location: near Brunswick, coastal Georgia
Why Special: Undisturbed, relatively pristine barrier island with miles of undeveloped shoreline provide original coastal forest habitat, top-quality rustic lodging, huge numbers of staging shorebirds in late April, and deserted Atlantic beaches
Habitat: coastal pine/oak forest, sand dunes and pristine beach below mouth of Altamaha River, saltmarsh estuaries
When To Go: any time of year is fabulous, but mid-April to early May is best for shorebird numbers and diversity
Birds to Look For: 30 species of shorebirds regularly seen during spring migration including Piping Plovers, thousands of Red Knots, hundreds of Whimbrel; Peregrine Falcon and Merlin common fly-overs; Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole, Summer Tanager, and Painted Bunting are common breeders