Aviary Expectations: Winter Birding Trails

One of the many wonders of winter is catching a glimpse of all the resilient wildlife that sticks around during these brutal months. Surprisingly, few make like bears and hibernate all winter long, instead choosing to stick out with the rest of us—frolicking, romping and soaring. So naturally, not all birds fly south for the winter. Many valiant fowl are actually quite content sticking around colder parts of the country during the fall and winter seasons. You’re bound to catch these making their way across the famed Delaware and Maine birding trails. Some Northern flying birds are an exception, however, as these choose to head to more temperate climates this time of year.  Whether you find yourself north of the Mason-Dixon line or as far south as Mexico, plenty of birding opportunities await.

Alabama Birding Trails

Image: alabamabirdingtrails.com

Image: alabamabirdingtrails.com

This statewide system is comprised of eight geographic regions that include both traditional birding trails and birdwatching sites: North Alabama Birding Trail, West Alabama Birding Trail, Appalachian Highlands, Piedmont Plateau, Black Belt Nature and Heritage, Pinewoods, Wiregrass and Alabama Coastal Birding Trails.

Though not a traditional trail, the North Alabama Birding Trail features 50 roadside sites fit for birdwatching. Some sites, though accessible by vehicle, are best explored on foot or by boat. While in West Alabama, Backbone boat ramp is where you’ll find Warblers and Moorhens while Hale County Catfish pond is best known for Wood Storks and a slew other shorebirds. Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail offers over 3.6 million acres to explore along East Central Alabama.

Delaware Birding Trail

Image: redknotoutfitters.com

Image: redknotoutfitters.com

The temperature can dip close to freezing in Delaware, but the bird population remains dynamic throughout the winter months, due in part to the state’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Waterfowl watching is excellent in Delaware through January and February, as raptors, waterfowl, winter finches and sparrows populate the region. Early winter brings the passage of freshwater goose and duck as saltwater-loving species make their way through the different parts of the region, including Cape Henlopen Point, Herring Point and Indian River Inlet. Snow Geese spill from the lakes late in winter just in time for spring’s migrant songbirds.

Maine Birding Trail

Yellow Warbler [Image: bangordailynews.com]

Yellow Warbler [Image: bangordailynews.com]

Maine’s proximity to Canada makes it the ideal entry point for migrating birds traveling south. During the colder months, birdwatchers can enjoy three types of birding in winter: feeder-watching, as species such as Blue Jays and woodpeckers wander in search of food; irruptions, which draws a variety of northern species in search of berries and other fruit; and seed-eaters, which also is also irrupt though focused on species that subsists on pinecones, seeds and spruce cones.

Great Texas Birding Challenge

Spot this Roseate Spoonbill on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. [Image: the-green-frugal.com]

Spot this Roseate Spoonbill on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. [Image: the-green-frugal.com]

This state-designated system of trails includes 43 hiking and driving trails, bird sanctuaries and nature preserves for a total of 308 different birding sites. Here, eager birdwatchers will be able to spy more than 450 bird species, as the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is not only the largest in the US but also the first of its kind.

Florida Birding Trail

Image: floridabirdingtrail.com

Image: floridabirdingtrail.com

Florida is home to the original snowbird—not the white-haired senior citizens you see frolicking on the sand on South Beach, rather warm-weather fowl with an aversion to snow. There are approximately 40 sought-after species in nearly 500 birding and wildlife viewing sites along Florida’s 2,000-mile self-guided trail. This trail is modeled after the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, and features guide books, signs and various other birding resources.

 

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