- a unique blend of striking scenic beauty, endless outdoor recreational opportunities and celebrated heritage.
Summer along Lake Champlain is a time to savor. It is a great time for swimming, sail-boating, sea kayaking, or for just lying around and enjoying the sun and breeze. It is also a great time to go birding along the lake. And so as spring migration concludes its pageant across the landscape, summer breeding takes over offering birders a chance to take part in the show.
The diversity of birds available to birders in the valley is partly owed to the diversity of habitats which the Champlain valley contains. There birders can look through open fields for breeding Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, and Eastern Bluebird. Indigo Buntings and Baltimore Orioles sing along the field edges and Warbling Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, and Chestnut-sided Warblers sing from the brushy edges and early successional habitats as well. Not only that, but birders may also be fortunate enough to find uncommon species like Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers which breed in similar locations.
Forested tracts in the valley can also be excellent for an array of species. These include species such as Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and many others. In fact, the Champlain Valley boasts a wide variety of breeding warblers. And birders who wish to see still others can take a day trip into places like the Tri-Lakes Region for species which haunt coniferous forests. They should check out birding in Saranac Lake for more details. In addition, while searching for warblers they can also look for boreal birds such as Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee or a breeding Yellow-bellied or Olive-sided Flycatcher.
But those who choose to simply bird along the lakeshore will not be disappointed either. Not only do the woodlots and forests offer good birding opportunities, but the lake itself can be great for an outing. Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Caspian Terns, and a variety of other water-loving species can be found there. The marshes such as those near Ticonderoga, Chazy, and King’s Bay are also excellent for birding and harbor species like American and Least Bittern, Great Egret, Green Heron, Common Gallinule, Wilson’s Snipe, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Duck, and many others.
As summer advances, migrating species from the north begin to add to this diversity as flocks of Bonaparte’s Gulls may contain a Little Gull, waterfowl of many species disperse with their young, and shorebirds descend from the arctic. Locations like Chazy and Noblewood Park are best known for this migration as common shorebird species such as Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Plovers, and Spotted and Least Sandpipers are joined by uncommon passersby including Whimbrel, Sanderling, and Stilt, Pectoral, and White-rumped Sandpipers. And the potential list is much longer still.
And as the shorebirds move along the lakeshore stopping for food before continuing their journey, songbirds move along the lake as well – also on their way south as summer winds to a close. The numbers of swallows – 6 species – can be tremendous. In addition, better than 20 species of warblers can be found during fall migration making for a great diversion from boating or swimming in the warm, lazy days of August. And that may be the best part of all. The valley offers so many birds and so many different outdoor activities that visitors will have lots of options from which to choose on a given day. And so birders will do well to bring their swimsuit and swimmers may well enjoy toting along their binoculars.
Lake Champlain has an array for even the pickest of birds, 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 can be done while your birding!
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.
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.