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I Bird NY

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Birding is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy! From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a vast array of amazing habitat that supports over 450 different bird species. Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by all ages and experiences, plus it's a great way to get outdoors. Join the fun! Get out and try bird watching today. It's easy to get started.

This web page has links to regional bird walks and birding programs, and tips on how to become an avid bird watcher. It also includes information on special programs like DEC's Bird Challenge for Kids, New York's Bird Conservation Areas (BCAs), and other events, activities, and attractions to help people - young and old - discover the fascinating world of birds.

Getting Started

woman and man using binoculars to look for birds

You don't need a lot to get started bird watching; just a good pair of binoculars (guidance under Learn More), a desire to be outdoors and a destination. Some people like to use a checklist/life list of common species they might find around their home so they can keep track of what they have seen or heard. There are check lists you can download or use online. Some common ones include:

Clements Checklist of Birds of the World- downloadable formats from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

eBird- online tool by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society to keep track of bird lists

New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) - options to order copies or download and print a PDF document

You can also do a Google search to find more check list resources. See our list of bird species fact sheets for information about some species you may see nearby.

boy looking through binoculars

Where to Find Birds

There are many places you can go in New York State to see birds. DEC has a list of state lands that are free of charge and contain the perfect habitat for various bird species. Below is a list of species and where you can find them at designated watchable wildlife sites.

Bald Eagle
Since 1972, New York's bald eagle population has gone from near zero to booming.
Common Loon
A magnificent breeding bird of New York's Adirondacks.
Eastern Bluebird
Once considered rare, the number of bluebirds is increasing thanks to an active nesting box program.
Great Blue Heron
The largest and most common heron in North America.
Great Horned Owl
A fierce hunter with an appetite for skunks.
New York's main breeding populations of osprey are in Long Island and the Adirondack mountains.
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrines nest on every Hudson River bridge from Albany south.
Wild Turkey
New York's current wild turkey population are descended from Pennsylvania turkeys, introduced here in the 1950s.

eagle in tree by Sue Shafer

Bird Conservation Area Sites
The New York State Bird Conservation Area Program (BCA) was established in the late 90s to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats on state lands and water. An area can be designated as a BCA if it is judged an important enough site for one or more species. In general, a site is nominated because of its importance to large numbers of waterfowl, pelagic seabirds, shorebirds, wading birds, migratory birds, or because of high species diversity, importance to species at risk, or its importance as a bird research site. DEC has a listing of designated BCAs where you can visit free of charge.

Free Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Viewing App
DEC has a free app you can use to find wildlife near you, including birds. You can download it from the Google Play store or Apple App store. Visit our web page for more app information.

Upcoming Birding Events

Try birding with a guide. Find a guided bird walk nearby.

Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center, Buffalo, NY

Birding 101: Class #2
Saturday, February 17 at 2:30 PM
Join us for a bird identification adventure. This is a continuation of class #1 in January, but new participants are welcome. For adults and children ages 8 and older.

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, Delmar, NY

falconer with raptor
Photo courtesy of Connie Bush

The Great Backyard Bird Count
Saturday, February 17 from 10 AM- 11:30 AM

This project is sponsored by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society for four days in February. If you would like to help scientists track the mid-winter distribution and abundance of birds, or just sip coffee and learn about common backyard birds, please join us. Bring binoculars if you have them, or we have a few to loan.

Saturday, February 24 from 9 AM- 10:30 AM

Join Five Rivers, the Audubon Society of the Capital Region and the Hudson Mohawk Bird Club for a special birding-by-snowshoe outing. Meet at the Visitor Center at 9:00 AM for a brief introduction to snowshoeing. Then, strap on the waffle stompers and go over the meadow and through the woods in search of winter species. The program is geared for birding/snowshoeing novices. Space is limited. Snowshoe rentals are provided by Friends of Five Rivers at $5 per pair; free to Friends members. Please call the Center at 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, February 21 to register. At least 6 inches of snow cover is required. If there is insufficient snow, we will go on foot. If the weather is severe, this program may be canceled.

NOTE: We are unable to accommodate organized groups (scouts, schools, hiking clubs, etc.) at our public programs. Please call Five Rivers at 518-475-0291 to schedule a separate program for your group.

Audubon Society of the Capital Region: Annual Meeting and Open House
Saturday, February 24 from 1 PM- 3 PM
This family-friendly, open to the public event will start with announcements and election of officers, followed by a presentation. Tom Lake, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation naturalist, educator and editor, will present "Changing Ecology of the Hudson River Flyway." His program will illustrate how the flyway has been critical to migratory birds for at least 12,000 years and how birds have adapted to the changing environment. During the presentation, there will be activities for younger folks. Light refreshments will be available and exhibits will show what your local Audubon chapter is doing and how you can participate.

NYS Parks Birding Events
Visit the NYS Parks' website for many birding events in your area.

Friends of Washington County Grasslands IBA

Saturday, May 19 from 10 AM - 4 PM and Sunday, May 20 from 11 AM - 4 PM
Winter Raptor Festival at Washington County Fairgrounds, Greenwich, NY

See live owls, hawks and falcons in flight at Friends of the IBA's 8th annual Winter Raptor Fest! Fun and educational Live Bird of Prey programs feature a variety of native raptors. Flight demos by master falconers highlight their aerial agility!

Catskill Center

Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27
2018 Warbler Weekend, Emerson Resort & Spa
Join fellow birders for the 3rd annual Taking Flight Conference sponsored by the Catskill Center. Attend this birding weekend with birding enthusiasts and hear local warbler experts, participate in workshops, keynotes and birding hikes.

bluebird, owl, loon collage

Birding Videos

Watch a clip about birds below and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
video capture of cardinal

Learn More

I Bird NY: Beginner's Guide to Birding- download this beginner's booklet (PDF, 3.9 MB) for great information and fun activities.

National Audubon Society- A national, nonprofit conservation organization focusing on birds and habitat and its state affiliated programs. There is also a NY Audubon chapter website which has a lot of information.

group of women birding in the woods

How You Can Help Birds- The I LOVE NY Take Action web page has suggestions on how you can help birds survive and opportunities for you to assist with local bird survey counts.

Young Birders Network- The Young Birders Network website (leaving DEC's website) includes extensive information for young birders around the world. It is primarily geared for ages 12-18. Its aim is to provide resources for young birders to connect and learn, and also to provide adult advocates for young birders the resources to encourage and support.

New York State Young Birders Club- The New York State Young Birders Club website (leaving DEC's website) provides community, friendship, and fun for young people who have a passion for wild birds and their habitats. This club is for birders in New York State between the ages of 10 and 19, inclusive.

I LOVE NY Birding Resource List- The I LOVE NY website has links to birding apps to find, identify and report birds.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds Website- Check out this article "Binoculars and Beyond: Nine Tips for Beginning Bird Watchers" and "Building Skills: The 4 Keys to Bird Identification."

Merlin- A bird identification app for iPhone and Android

Bird Sleuth- A K-12 education program site by Cornell with an article about teaching bird ID.

eBird- Check out this article "Understanding birds & weather: Fall birding basics."