Bird watching

Warm-weather birding in the Champlain Valley

Summer along the Adirondack Coast is something to be savored. It is a time of relaxing on the water, fishing, paddling, swimming, and enjoying the long, warm days. But it is also a short time which passes all too quickly. Birds know this. While our own summers may offer us respite from the furious pace of work and school, their summers are characterized by the high-energy needs of nesting, sandwiched for many of them by a demanding migration journey to and from their winter homes to our south. 

But while they are here, they create a birder’s paradise as each habitat of the valley is loaded with birds of a variety of species, granting birders a splendid opportunity to explore. These habitats include fields which harbor the likes of American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Wild Turkey, and Eastern Bluebird. 

From marsh to forest 

Area marshes like Wickham, Webb Royce, and Ti Marsh, are also amazing places to explore during the summer, and birders can find Least Bittern, American Bittern, Green Heron, Virginia Rail, Sora, Great Egret, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Common Gallinule, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Duck, and many others with a little time and effort. And since many of these marsh species are most active at night, birders in search of them will likely do best with early morning or evening trips – a time of day when they can also find Barred, Great-horned, and Eastern Screech Owls calling from the nearby woods. They may also chance upon the calls of Eastern Whip-poor-wills in places in the valley such as Mt. Defiance in Ticonderoga. 

During the day birders can explore these forests for Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Redstart, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Creeper, Pileated Woodpecker, Black-billed Cuckoo, and White-breasted Nuthatch.

The waterways (such as the La Chute River in Ticonderoga) in the valley may offer regionally uncommon species like Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Louisiana Waterthrush.

And the places where such habitats meet often creates an edge of field, forest, and marsh which hold still more birds like Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Eastern Towhees. Places in the southern Lake Champlain Region also harbor Golden-winged, Blue-winged, and Prairie Warblers – uncommon species throughout much of the North Country. 

 Take a side trip

And if a birder wants to find as many warblers as possible, they should also visit habitats in the interior the Adirondacks, where 20 species of warblers breed in the High Peaks Region alone, and birders will do well to check out either the Saranac Lake or the Lake Placid websites to learn more. In the Adirondacks they will find that many warblers are found in the coniferous forests of the region, making the boreal and bog habitats of the park inviting for investigation. These are also the same habitats where birders can find boreal breeders like Gray Jay, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Black-backed Woodpecker. 

But for folks wishing to remain in the Lake Champlain Region, there is plenty to explore here. In fact, as summer lengthens and the days begin to grow shorter, the beginnings of fall migration appear along the length of the lake. Warblers and other songbirds – dispersing after breeding – flock up in mixed-species groups as they feed to fatten up for migration. 

But, wait, there's more!

If this diversity isn’t enough, birders can turn their attention to the mudflats in the valley where shorebirds congregate to feed on their way south from the arctic in places like Noblewood Park, the Chazy Riverlands, Ti Marsh, and Crown Point. Common species include Least, Semipalmated, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, and Killdeer. But these species can be joined by a long list of uncommon or rare species which includes Baird’s Sandpiper, Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalarope, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Stilt Sandpiper. 

And the late summer and early fall bounty doesn’t end there. Birders who turn their attention to the lapping waves and sand spits may also find flocks of hundreds of Bonaparte’s Gulls hiding Little Gulls in their ranks, as well as Black Terns kiting over the waves even as the much more common Caspian Terns give grating yells across the water. 

And so summer – even as it winds to a close – is a diverse time of year unrivaled in the North Country. But given how short a time of plenty it is, birders may not want to simply take it easy and poke their way along like the lazy lapping lake, but rather push to experience it all as much as they can. For even the most active and diverse time of year must come to an end, and it is not to be missed.  

Find your nest

Summer birding in the Lake Champlain Region is amazing! 

Browse our lodging selection to find the stay that's right for you. Birding is just one of the many things to do in the region, and many activities can be done while you're birding! 

 

Lake Champlain Birding Trail Brochure

 

This aptly named Lake Champlain Birding Trail brochure will provide you with details of what species can be found in the region and includes a handy map guide. Click on the image to view and print the brochure.


Listing Results:

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Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area
In winter, AuSable Point Campground is closed to camping, but open to walking and birding. It can be a great place to find mixed flocks of wintering ducks. These include common species such as...
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
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Chimney Point State Historic Site

Chimney Point State Historic Site
Chimney Point State Historic Site in Vermont sits on the Vermont side of the Champlain Bridge. It offers much the same birding opportunities as the New York side of the bridge, but from a different...
Location: Crown Point, Vermont
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Cook Mountain Preserve

Cook Mountain Preserve
The Cook Mountain Preserve covers 200 acres with a wide variety of terrain. The summit of the mountain offers views of Lake George, the Champlain Valley, and Vermont's Green Mountains. The waterfront...
Location: Ticonderoga, New York
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Coon Mountain Preserve

Coon Mountain Preserve
Coon Mountain has a craggy interior with rocky outcrops, steep cliffs, and talus slopes. In shade there are abundant hemlocks, while the sunnier spots support oak and pine forests. Look for the water...
Location: Westport, New York
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Crown Point Boat Launch Area

Crown Point Boat Launch Area
Part of an area with many vantage points to view common merganser, bufflehead, common goldeneye, hooded merganser, mallard, black duck, and greater and lesser scaup. Also look for wintering raptors...
Location: Crown Point, New York
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Crown Point Ruins - Birding and Banding

Crown Point Ruins - Birding and Banding
Like Fort Ticonderoga, Crown Point State Historic Site offers birding along Lake Champlain against a historic backdrop that is worth the visit itself. The site allows for access to Lake Champlain...
Location: Crown Point, New York
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Cumberland Head

Cumberland Head
Cumberland Head sits just north of Plattsburgh and the area is a good place to check for wintering and migrating water birds. Any water access is worth checking, but two prominent places are the...
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
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Essex Ferry Terminal

Essex Ferry Terminal
The Essex Ferry area is a good place to look for wintering waterfowl during the cold months. Begg’s Point Park, just south of the ferry terminal offers another view of the area. The ferry terminal...
Location: Essex, New York
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Fort Ticonderoga birding

Fort Ticonderoga birding
While a visit to Fort Ticonderoga is usually aimed at understanding American history, the fort’s grounds can be excellent for birding. Scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and Baltimore...
Location: Ticonderoga, New York
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Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area

Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area
Hurricane Mountain outside the Village of Keene is a popular hike along the three trails that take hikers to the summit. It can also be good for birding, and a variety of breeding birds call the area...
Location: Elizabethtown, New York
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Lake Champlain Bridge

Lake Champlain Bridge
The Crown Point Bridge area between New York State and Vermont can be a great place to look for wintering and migrating waterfowl. Access comes from the nearby state campground and Crown Point State...
Location: Crown Point, New York
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Magic Triangle

Magic Triangle
The Magic Triangle, composed of Clark, Cross, and Lakeshore Roads (which form a triangle) south of Essex is a collection of woodlots and fields which attract birds throughout the year. Baltimore...
Location: Essex, New York
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Mouth of the Saranac River

Mouth of the Saranac River
The mouth of the Saranac River in Plattsburgh can be a good place to look for ducks in winter. A small city park provides access to the area, where there is always some open water, even in winter....
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
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Noblewood Park birding

Noblewood Park birding
A town park of the Town of Willsboro, Noblewood Park is one of the best birding sites in the Champlain Valley. The wooded trails host a variety of breeding songbirds during the summer and the area...
Location: Willsboro, New York
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Pauline Murdock Wildlife Management Area

Pauline Murdock Wildlife Management Area
This wildlife area is 68.5 acres of boreal northern forest, with areas of river and flood plains. It consists of seven different ecological habitats: red maple?hardwood swamp, hemlock-hardwood swamp...
Location: Elizabethtown, New York
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The Great Blue Heron

with a head-to-tail length of 36-55 inches and wingspan of 66- 79 inches, it's no wonder this bird is the largest North American species.