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15 Of The Best Places In The US For Bird-Watching

Always look up.

Bird-watching is a popular hobby where people will travel from all over to observe wildlife soaring through the skies. And it's become even more popular over the past year or two, as people have taken up new things during quarantine.

A family going birdwatching
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And whether you're still getting the hang of things or you're a total pro, we wanted to gather up some of the most beautiful areas to bird-watch all across the country.

Two kingfisher birds
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If we missed your favorite, leave it in the comments!

1. New Jersey: Cape May Bird Observatory

The lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey which is near the area's bird observatory
Williamsherman / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via iStock

Cape May is a seaside resort at the tip of southern New Jersey’s Cape May peninsula. The narrow peninsula acts as a bird funnel, bringing in birds during the spring and fall months, according to National Geographic. During this time, you can easily spot 15–20 birds all flying together right above your head. 

The bird observatory is located right near Lake Lily and is open between 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it has a store where you can buy binoculars, monoculars, bird-watching tripods, and more. 

2. Wisconsin: Green Bay

A barred owl
Scott Suriano / Getty Images

Green Bay is home to some of the largest freshwater estuaries — which makes it a prime location for birds to migrate to. This part of the state serves as a home base for birds who are migrating and want to take a rest in between their travels, according to Travel Awaits

Visit the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve, which is home to 200 different types of species including warblers, flycatchers, wood ducks, northern waterthrush, barred owls, and pileated woodpeckers.

3. Hawaii: Koke’e State Park

Koke'e' State Park in Hawaii
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

Hawaii is a go-to when it comes to bird-watching. Koke’e State Park is filled with stunning mountains and valleys, making it a hot spot for white-tailed tropicbirds or scarlet honeycreepers to fly by during the spring and summertime. 

Non-Hawaii residents have to pay a small fee to enter the park, which is open on weekends. After bird-watching you can hike the trails, picnic, and even lodge there for an all-day adventure. 

4. New Mexico: Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refug
Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

You'll want to make a trip to Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge during the wintertime to spot sandhill cranes, snow geese, and waterfowl beautifully flying overhead.  

The refuge is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and while there you'll likely have a front-row seat to the crane's behavior — which includes different types of calls, and various threatening postures and dances, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. 

5. Florida: J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Two people looking out at water with two bikes parked on the pier behind them
Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

According to Bird Watching Daily, this part of Florida is famous for its spectacular wading birds. Because of this area's wetlands, forests, and freshwater habitats, hundreds of bird species flock here, making it one of the best bird-watching sites on the East Coast.  

The Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located in southwestern Florida, on Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

6. California: Point Reyes National Seashore

A bird sitting on greenery
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Make your way out west — about 30 miles north of San Francisco — to visit this part of California that is known for having almost 500 different species of birds fly across 70,000 acres of its protected land all year, according to Lonely Planet. One of the most popular types of birds that frequents this area is the snowy plover. 

Point Reyes National Seashore harbors 45% of North America's bird species, and its beaches were listed as the cleanest in the state in 2010 if you're looking to relax on the beach after bird-watching. 

7. Arizona: Tucson Bird Trail

A bird sitting in the desert in Tucson, Arizona
Wild Horizon / Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

This part of Arizona is known for being home to rare bird species that aren't found anywhere else. July is prime time to witness birds that fly from international areas. "Hummingbirds that bred in Mexico disperse north, so instead of having six or seven kinds of hummingbirds, there are sometimes twelve or thirteen," Will Russell, owner of the local bird tour company Wings, told Lonely Planet

There are 45 recommended birding sites in the Tucson area, including the Tucson Bird Trail

8. Washington State: Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

A person looking through binoculars bird watching in Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington
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You can spot some beauties flying around here almost any time of the year, although in spring and fall you will see some rare species that cannot be seen at other times of the year. Over 200 species of bird visit the Refuge over the course of the year.

According to Expedition Wildlife, "Greater Yellowlegs can be seen when the tide goes out — and all variety of waterbirds when the tide comes back in. Bald Eagles dive for fish in the Sound, with the Olympic Mountains as their backdrop." 

9. Illinois: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

A scenic picture of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois
Ej_rodriquez / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via Getty Images

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. If you make a visit here, you are bound to spot upland sandpipers and unique grassland species. In the summer, you'll spot prairie bird sightings, according to Travel Awaits

If you're planning a visit here, check out the Welcome Center beforehand to find out about the variety of programs and tours they offer from April to October. 

10. Texas: Big Bend National Park

Lucifer hummingbirds
Hal Beral / Getty Images

This national park is a bird migration route, so you are bound to see flocks of birds overhead. Expect to see species such as lucifer hummingbirds, black-capped vireo, and Colima warblers, according to Expedition Wildlife

The park get its name from its location on the bend of the Rio Grande. It's hard to decide whether the views or birds flying across this area are more stunning. 

11. Maryland: Takoma Park

A Great Blue Heron on the river near TaKOma Park, Maryland
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

Just a few miles northeast of downtown Washington DC, there's a part of Maryland that may be a bit unexpected for bird-watching at first glance. But because of the area's sustainability policies and wildlife-rich Sligo Creek, this is a great area for bird-watching, according to Travel Awaits

In the winter, bird enthusiasts can experience guided tours led by experts to see waterfowl, seabirds, shorebirds, and raptors. 

12. Nebraska: Platte River Valley

Prairie Chickens doing their mating dance
Education Images / Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

From late winter to early spring, over half a million birds fly over Platte River Valley. Expect some crane watching and the mating dance of prairie chicken, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

There are year-round activities for visitors, but if you're looking to spot cranes, visit during late February to early April to witness approximately 500,000 of them fly through this area. 

13. Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Park

View of the Indiana Sand Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana
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You can spot over 350 bird species at the Indiana Dunes National Park every year. When planning a visit here, it's recommended to check out the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival during peak birding season. You can also take a self-guided tour to check out the bird-watching hot spots in this area.

14. Colorado: Pawnee National Grassland

Dark clouds overlooking the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado
Teri Virbickis / Moment Editorial / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

The Pawnee National Grassland is one of most popular places in the Colorados to spot a huge variety of birds throughout the year. Here you can see everything from prairie birds, to gayfeathers, lark buntings, and more, according to Colorado Birding Trail

15. Massachusetts: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A Snowy Owl sitting on top of a tree
Boston Globe / Boston Globe via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

The Parker River National Refuge in Newbury, Massachusetts, attracts shorebirds, songbirds, and falcons during their fall migration. This area of Massachusetts has terrific reviews on Trip Advisor, with visitors calling it a "glorious bird-watching" area. The Refuge is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Are you a fan of bird-watching? Have you visited any of these places — and what's the most memorable bird you've ever seen? Tell us in the comments below!

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