- a unique blend of striking scenic beauty, endless outdoor recreational opportunities and celebrated heritage.
Summer on the water is something to treasure. We can drift lazily along on the breeze. We can paddle marshes and the open expanse of Lake Champlain. We can ditch the boats and jump in for a swim. And we can head out early in the morning to search for birds before doing all of the above. After all, birding is a great way to explore the Lake Champlain Region and summer is a great time to do it.
Many people will notice large species like Caspian Tern, Osprey, and Bald Eagle while they are boating and swimming, but they can find a remarkable diversity of other birds if they explore a bit in the area. This diversity is reflected in the number of habitats found here – and birders should try to explore all of them if they can. Much of the Lake Champlain Region is laced and surrounded by fields, pastures, and farms where birders can find species like:
These fields are often separated with hedgerows and bordered with edge habitat, where birders may find:
Of even more interest are species like Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler, both of which can be found in places in the southern part of the region.
Birders in the Lake Champlain Region will have plenty of forest patches to explore, where they can find a variety of species including:
Birders may also want to take a trip to the interior of the Adirondacks for still more forest species. There they may find species like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Gray Jay in the coniferous boreal pockets of the area, and they should check out the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid websites to learn more.
Fields and edge habitats in the Lake Champlain Region often border marshlands, where birders may find another suite of species – from American and Least Bitterns to Virginia Rail, Common Gallinule, and Pied-billed Grebe.
Many of these species are most easily found at dawn, dusk, or night, and birders who hunt for marsh species can also find Great-horned, Eastern Screech, and Barred owls. Night outings may also find Eastern Whip-poor-will – which is found in scattered locations along the valley. And an evening trip in the second half of August may note Common Nighthawks overhead – marking the end of summer and the beginning of fall migration.
Common Nighthawks do not hold exclusive rights to announcing fall in the bird world along Lake Champlain. The second half of summer is also marked by the migration of shorebirds on their way from the arctic after breeding. These birds stop over along the edge of marshes and on mudflats throughout the region, and birders who want to find them should check out places like Noblewood Park and the Chazy Riverlands.
Many of the shorebirds will be fairly common birds:
Many less common species get found somewhat regularly, including Stilt, Pectoral, White-rumped, and Baird’s Sandpipers, just to name a few. Flocks of shorebirds also attract predators like Peregrine Falcon and Merlin, which harass the feeding flocks and add excitement to any trip.
Birders should be on the alert on the waves of the lake – Little Gulls are regular late-summer and early-fall migrants when they are mixed into flocks of Bonaparte’s Gulls. And while the lake and its bordering wetlands offer some of the best late-summer birding, birders must not ignore the fields, hedgerows, and forests of the region either. It is then in late summer that these same habitats which housed so many breeding birds offer respite to weary migrants and dispersing birds of many species. After all, the Lake Champlain Region is a north-south migratory route and many species move along its length. And so the valley in late summer and early fall offers birders heaps of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, sparrows, tanagers, grosbeaks, cuckoos, and everything else in between. They are celebrating an amazing place to spend the summer, and the beginning of the fall and all of the great birding opportunities it brings.
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 activities can be done while you're 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.