Bird Watching is quite possibly America's #1 hobby. This year, more than 60 million people in this country will grab their field book and strap on their binoculars to do a bit of bird watching.
Bird watching, or simply birding as it is commonly known, is an activity that is considered a sport by many. Bird watching is now the single most practiced hobby on the North American continent.
Whether your love of birds takes you into your backyard or out into the field, a comprehensive birding field guide is a must-have for any bird watching outing.
Two of the most visually compelling and comprehensive field guides available today are the Smithsonian Handbooks Birds of North America: Eastern Region and Birds of North America: Western Region.
These wonderful new guides, written by Dr. Fred J. Alsop III, a well-known ornithologist and biological sciences professor, are the first and only guides to devote a whole page to each bird species, which includes their complete life history, including plumage, song, nesting, breeding, flight pattern, habitat and similar birds.
Each page features a large, full-color photograph of the species, making identification easy even for the most novice of bird watchers.
Before taking off for your birding trip, there are a couple of other things that every bird watcher needs to ensure a successful and fulfilling outing:
While you can bird watch virtually anywhere, there are some parts of the country that offer much more birding activity and host a wider variety of bird species than the others.
- A high-quality pair of binoculars is a must for spotting our feathered friends. Make sure that everyone in your party brings their own set so that no one misses out on a rare sighting.
- Bring along a notebook to write down your observations. This will help you keep track of all the bird species you've seen, and provide you with a valuable learning tool to help you prepare for future birding excursions.
No matter where you happen to live in the US, there are lots of opportunities to take either short or long trips to some of the best bird watching areas in the country.
For a comprehensive look at the top 100 bird watching areas in North America, a new book entitled Where the Birds Are from DK Publishing and the National Wildlife Federation is a top-notch reference to use while planning your birding trip. This wonderful book features lots of valuable and interesting information on birding locations in every state and all across Canada.
With your binoculars, field guides, and patience in hand, we invite you to visit five of the most amazing birding locations detailed in the book:
America offers hundreds of the best bird watching areas in the world. Acquire a quality set of binoculars and a great birding field guide and hit the road!
- Nevada - While some may think that all of the attractions in Nevada are equipped with flashing lights and neon signs, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is 100& natural and features some of the world's most beautiful bird species.
This birding refuge is located in a marshy area in the mostly arid Nevada Great Basin. These wetlands provide an exceptional habitat for many species of birds, but one of the favorites among bird watchers is the trumpeter swan.
During the first two hours after it gets dark, the beautiful calls of trumpeter swans can be heard echoing off the nearby mountains. The trumpet-like sounds are louder during a full moon because the extra light makes the swans more active.
- South Dakota - In addition to having some of the most colorful rock formations in the United States, South Dakota and Badlands National Park also feature a wide variety of terrain that is inhabited by over 200 bird species, making this area a bird watching haven.
One of the biggest attractions for birders in the park are the grassland sparrows. Where the Birds Are describes these birds as being more likely to be heard than seen since they make their home in the tall grasslands of the prairies.
- Mississippi - In the lower Mississippi Valley, the Saint Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide suitable habitat for the area's abundant waterfowl.
The refuge is also one of the best regions to see and hear the over 50 species of songbirds that habitat in the area.
The Smithsonian guide book features the Natchez Birding Festival (held every August). This one-day celebration opens up a bird-rich portion of the park that is normally closed to the public.
- North Carolina - Bird watching activities take place year-round on the small Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge just off the state's Atlantic coast. As the seasons change, the bird life found at the refuge changes along with them.
In the winter, the tiny island has thousands of migrant ducks and geese making their homes there. Ducks, geese, and warblers also use the island as a rest stop on their migration routes.
In the summertime, several species of birds, including herons, egrets, and gulls nest on the island. A birding visit on the right weekend can offer sightings of more than 200 species of birds.
- Maine - The most enjoyable bird watching months for this state are from May to September, which makes Acadia National Park an excellent summertime retreat for bird watchers.
Several species of cormorants are always present in the summertime, and are often seen on the daily walks led by park staff from late August through September.
Cadillac Mountain, the Atlantic coast's highest mountain peak, offers daily hawk watches.
Article courtesy of ARA Content.
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