Bird watching

Summer birding in the Champlain Valley

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.

Fields

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:

  • Bobolink
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • American Kestrel
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Eastern Bluebird

These fields are often separated with hedgerows and bordered with edge habitat, where birders may find:

  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Song Sparrow
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat

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.

Forests

Birders in the Lake Champlain Region will have plenty of forest patches to explore, where they can find a variety of species including:

  • Brown Creeper
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • American Redstart
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Black-billed Cuckoo
  • Ovenbird

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.

Marshlands 

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.

Lake Champlain

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:

  • Sanderling
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Killdeer
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs

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. 

Find your nest

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! 

 

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:

Page 1 – Displaying 1 – 15 of 30

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 ...
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Crown Point, Vermont
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Ticonderoga, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Westport, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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, ...
Location: Crown Point, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Crown Point, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Essex, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Ticonderoga, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Elizabethtown, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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. ...
Location: Crown Point, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Essex, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Plattsburgh, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Willsboro, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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 ...
Location: Elizabethtown, New York
View Additonal Info & Map

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.