Top 10 Birdwatching Vacations in North America
North America’s great national parks and wilderness areas not only boast some of the world’s most interesting and exotic mammals but plenty of birdlife too. You can canoe, sail, trek or drive these locations from California to Alaska and the northern reaches of Canada.
- Yosemite National Park, California
One of the great biological and geological attractions of North America also has a bird list 300 species long. The best time for birders is between June and August but get up early to avoid the crowds. The great gray owl is one of the park’s special species as is the black swift.
- Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Canada
These spectacular regions are also home to some of the best birding locations in eastern Canada. Around St John’s there are multitudes of seabirds with nesting pairs of Atlantic puffins, murres, razorbill and guillemot. On Cape St. Mary’s there’s a whir of motion with gannets, kittiwakes, common murres, razorbills, guillemots and cormorants. And on Cape Breton Island look for the rare Bicknell’s thrush and nesting birds in the boreal forest.
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota
Drink in the pure lakes and clean fresh air on 1500 miles of canoe waterways that boast hundreds of bird species. It’s not just about seeing the moose, bear and wolves in this region but the thrill of a bald eagle sighting or the call of a common loom. The best way to see the birds is to get out on a canoe to paddle the waterways but there’s plenty to see if you’re camping, staying in a cabin or just driving through.
- Athabasca River, Canada
The Athabasca River cuts through scenic mountains and is surrounded by a mixture of open forests and grasslands that provide great habitat for many species of birds. Cruise down the river in a boat and keep an eye out for wild geese and beavers.
- Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada
These remote British Columbia islands are thick with spruce forests, rugged mountains and tidal pools; perfect for migratory birds that stop here in spring and fall. It is also a prime nesting area for bald eagles, tufted puffins, peregrine falcons, auklets and thousands of seabirds.
- Pribilof Islands, Alaska
This remote outpost lies 750 miles south west of Anchorage in the cold Bering Sea. For birders it’s a delightful place to visit with thousands of breeding seabirds nesting on rocky cliffs and swarming in the icy waters offshore. Pick out the murres, puffins, kittiwakes and cormorants and keep an eye out for the thousands of northern fur seals that gather here every summer and the profusion of wild flowers.
- Mackenzie Delta, Yukon, Canada
Canada’s longest river, the Mackenzie River, empties into the Beaufort Sea in a region known as the Mackenzie Delta. Despite its sub arctic location the Delta remains forested and is home to a flourishing raptor population, bald eagles, golden eagles and peregrine falcons. There are large flocks of migrating ducks and Greece in spring and summer.
- Klamath Basin, California
Nestled along the Oregon-California border, this wonderful area is rich with birdlife. During the winter months there are large populations of wintering Snow and Ross’s geese, bald eagles and waterfowl including the tundra swan. Raptor, hawk and owl assortments prowl the meadows and on land there are quails, woodpeckers and bluebirds.
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The winter landscape in Yosemite is legendary with frozen waterfalls, rising steam vents and roaming bison and elk. Into this you can also add the flocks of finches, swans, golden and bald eagles, barrows and American dippers that feed, soar and tarry amongst Yosemite’s beautiful scenery.
- Hawaiian islands
Due to their isolation, these islands come with an assortment of endemic species including land birds and seabirds. In spring the bird activity is at its peak and the best time to cruise the coasts, wander the wetlands, forests and even the volcanoes. You can even head offshore for pelagic species such as the albatross, petrel or shearwater.