Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

I Bird NY

I Bird NY logo

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 checklists you can download or use online. Some common ones include (links leave DEC website):

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 checklist resources. See our list of bird species fact sheets for information about some species you may see nearby.

Upcoming Birding Events

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

Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center, Depew, NY

Saturday February 23rd at 2:30 PM: Birding 101 Class #2

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. Registration required; call 716-683-5959.

For directions to the center, please visit the Reinstein Woods webpage.

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, Delmar, NY

Saturday February 23rd at 10:00 AM: Guided Walk: WINTER WALK

Join us for this short walk on some of Five Rivers' flat trails. Along the way we will look for birds that stay during the colder months and discuss some of their strategies for surviving winter. We will look for tracks and trails of other animals and find out who has been there and what they were doing. Bring binoculars if you have them. Call Five Rivers at 518-475-0291 or email Five Rivers to register.

Every other Thursday through March: Citizen Science Winter Raptor Survey

People with bird watching skills or a desire to learn are needed to help discover winter feeding areas of endangered raptor species. Volunteers meet at Five Rivers every other week and spend an hour, centered around sunset, scanning for and recording raptor species on Five Rivers' grasslands. Participants do not have to attend every session but will need their own binoculars. Study dates are subject to change due to weather conditions. Pre-registration is required. Please help us save threatened and endangered species. Call Five Rivers at 518-475-0291 or email Five Rivers to register.

For directions to the center, please visit the Five Rivers webpage.

Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club

Monday March 4th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM: HMBC Speaker Series: Introduction to eBIRD

Join members of the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club for their monthly speaker series presented by John Kent: Introduction to eBIRD (link leaves DEC website).

Learn the basics of how to use eBird to:

  • Find more birds
  • Keep track of your bird lists, photos, and sounds
  • Explore latest sightings from around the world
  • Join the world's largest birding community
  • Contribute to science and conservation

We will go through a demonstration of the eBird website and the eBird mobile app, providing an overview of the features and how to use them.

Have fun finding common birds and get a chance to win prizes!

Congratulations to the 2018 I Bird NY Challenge winners!

The winners of the Beginner Birding Challenge are:

Margaret Yoder (grand prize), Michael Krupitza (1st place), Megan Tarkowski (2nd place), and the winner of the Experienced Birder Challenge is Joe Bacchi.

2018 I Bird NY challenge winners

Even though the challenges are over, birding is a fun outdoor activity that residents can enjoy all year long.

Learn more about these birds on DEC's bird species page where each species is profiled. Stay tuned for 2019's I Bird NY Challenge!

2018's I Bird NY Challenges:

  1. Are you 16 years or younger and a resident of New York State? If you have an interest in birds, take our I Bird NY challenge! Find 10 common New York bird species and we'll send you a special certificate and bracelet for taking the challenge. You will also be entered into a drawing for binoculars or a spotting scope. Download our I Bird NY Challenge form (PDF, 977 KB) and get started today. Challenge is open now through September 15, 2018. All entries must be received by September 30, 2018.
  2. The Experienced Birder Challenge: If you are already a birder, take your birding to the next level by taking the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge! The bird species listed on this webpage represent birds from a variety of habitats all across New York State. Find any 10 (or more) of the 50 bird species listed to complete the challenge and for each bird you find, complete the information on the Experienced Birder Challenge entry sheet (PDF, 198 KB). Some species are common and found in many places, while others are rare and may be limited to a specific habitat or part of the state, so everyone can find some of them.

Challenge was open through September 15, 2018.

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, or migratory birds. A site may also have high species diversity, importance to species at risk, or 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.

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 (link leaves DEC website).

Young Birders Network- The Young Birders Network website includes extensive information for young birders around the world (link leaves DEC website). 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 provides community, friendship, and fun for young people who have a passion for wild birds and their habitats (link leaves DEC website). 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 (link leaves DEC website).

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," (links leave DEC website).

Merlin- A bird identification app for iPhone and Android (link leaves DEC website).

Bird Sleuth- A K-12 education program site by Cornell with an article about teaching bird ID (link leaves DEC website).

eBird- Check out this article "Understanding birds & weather: Fall birding basics," (link leaves DEC website).