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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 in your neighborhood today. It's easy to get started.

2020 I Bird NY Challenges are now closed!

Both challenges are now closed! Thank you so much to everyone who participated throughout the summer and fall. Winners will be announced soon!

Are you 16 years or younger and live in New York State? If you have an interest in birds, try the I Bird NY challenge! Find 10 common New York bird species and we'll send you a special certificate for taking the challenge. You will also be entered into a random drawing for birding accessories. Download our I Bird NY Beginner's Challenge form (PDF) and get started today. The Beginner's Challenge is also available in Spanish (PDF).

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 wide variety of habitats found in New York State support more than 450 different bird species. Find any 10 (or more) different bird species to complete the challenge. Find a lifer? Let us know! Complete and submit the Experienced Birder Challenge entry sheet (PDF) for a chance to be entered in a random drawing for birding accessories. The Experienced Birder's Challenge is also available in Spanish (PDF).

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 (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

Online Events/Remote Learning Opportunities

Montezuma Bird Watching Tours

The Montezuma Wetlands Complex is teeming with breeding songbirds, birds of prey, and marsh birds this time of year. Follow behind the Audubon van in your own vehicle to Montezuma's marshes, forests ,and grasslands to explore several birding hotspots and the abundant wildlife as they go about their evening activities. Participants will receive a conference call phone number to hear the Audubon educator narrate the tour and ask questions between stops. Guests are welcome to get out of their vehicles at each stop so facial coverings will be required, and we will follow physical distancing guidelines. Bring your binoculars and camera to capture images of the beautiful habitats and wildlife. Space is limited and pre-paid reservations are required. Fees: $5/child, $10/adult, $30/family.

Autumn tour dates will be announced soon! (leaves DEC website)

Birding and Boating at Montezuma

What better way to enjoy a summer sunset than a relaxing canoe/kayak paddle to explore the birds, other wildlife, and their habitats near the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. We will paddle along the Seneca River, Clyde River, and Cayuga Lake to explore a variety of songbirds, shorebirds, and birds of prey including the Bald Eagle and Osprey. Facial coverings will be required when entering and exiting the water, and we will follow physical distancing guidelines. Bring your own canoe/kayak or rent a boat from us. Fees: $10/child without rental, $15/adult without rental, $25/solo kayak rental, $40/canoe rental (maximum 2 adults plus 1 child). Space is limited and pre-paid reservations are required.

Autumn tour dates will be announced soon! (leaves DEC website)

Environmental Education Centers

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, Delmar, NY

Note from Five Rivers Staff:

"To limit the potential spread of the Coronavirus, the Education Center is closed until further notice. Public restrooms are available from 8AM-8PM at the Guided School Program building. If you need to contact us, please leave a message at 518-475-0291 or email us.

Outdoor public programs are being offered on a limited basis and are listed on our schedule. Program participants MUST wear a mask. Participation is limited, and registration is REQUIRED for all guided walks.

Our grounds and trails at Five Rivers will remain open daily from sunrise to sunset, and we invite you to enjoy being outside as you watch spring unfold. With 10 miles of trails and 450 acres of forests, fields, and ponds, we offer the perfect location to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL (6 feet apart) as you enjoy nature. You can greet other visitors with jazz hands and a smile, even if wearing a mask.

Thank you for your understanding and patience,

Five Rivers Staff"

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

Note from Reinstein Woods Staff:

"To limit the potential spread of the Coronavirus, the Education Center and bathroom building are closed until further notice. If you need to contact us, please leave a message at 716-683-5959 or email us.

All publicly scheduled events are canceled until further notice. Check the Reinstein Woods page for building and program updates.

Our grounds and trails will remain open daily from sunrise to sunset, and we invite you to enjoy being outside as you watch spring unfold. With 3.5 miles of trails and 292 acres of forests, ponds, and wetlands, we offer the perfect location to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL (stay 6 feet apart) as you enjoy nature. You can greet other visitors with jazz hands and a smile, even if wearing a mask.

Thank you for your understanding and patience,

Reinstein Woods Staff"

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

New York State Parks

Note from New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation:

COVID-19 UPDATE: New York State Parks are currently open. If you plan on visiting, please wear a face covering and maintain safe social distancing. Park density limits are in effect, so have an alternate plan ready in case the park you are visiting reaches capacity. For additional information about camping, swimming and other activities, visit: COVID-19 UPDATE.

To learn more please visit the NYS Parks event page (leaves DEC website).

Audubon Locations in New York State

Note from Audubon:

"As Audubon makes and enacts plans to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), our organization's utmost concern is for the safety of the communities we serve. We are monitoring the situation to maintain a healthy environment for staff, volunteers, and visitors.

Being outside in nature can help lift your spirits during challenging times. Audubon encourages everyone who can safely do so to use the outdoors trails at our nature centers-many trails are open, even if the center building itself is closed. If you need to stay at home, but still want something to do, look no further than this birdy care package." (leaves DEC website)

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

Birdwatching Webcams

Get a glimpse into the lives of birds with these live or time-lapse images from around New York State:

These links leave DEC website:

Learn More

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

I Bird NY: Beginner's Guide to Birding - download the beginner's booklet (PDF) in Spanish

All of the links below leave DEC website:

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 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 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.

American Birding Association - Read through the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics before heading out in the field.

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."