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Watchable Wildlife

Watchable wildlife binoculars and owl eyes logo

Check out the new New York State Birding Trail, and discover other wildlife watching events that happen near you and are included in DEC's Events Calendar.

A bear, a peregrine falcon, a snapping turtle and a beaver

Discover Great Wildlife Viewing Areas Near You

New York State has millions of acres of State Parks, forests and wildlife management areas that are home to hundreds of wildlife species, and all are open to the public. Choose from hundreds of trails and miles of rivers as well as marshes and wetlands. The webpage includes a full list of viewing sites and the best locations for finding your favorite mammal, bird, reptile, or insect.

See a video clip about wildlife photography or bird watching and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

If you have a favorite wildlife viewing site in New York, tell us where it is by emailing: Include as much information as you can about the site. It could be the next site added to New York State's Watchable Wildlife webpage.

New York State Birding Trail

In October 2021, DEC announced New York City as the first region in its New York State Birding Trail. The trail highlights world-class birding opportunities across the state and provides information on places anyone can go to find birds amid beautiful settings. The trail is not a physically connected or built trail, but a network of promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation, providing an inclusive experience for all. Future announcements are expected throughout this year. For tips on bird watching or for upcoming birding events, visit the I Bird NY page. Find out more about your favorite birds and see a complete list of birds found in New York State.

Wildlife Photography Tips

Photo of Blue Jay
This photo of a Blue Jay was sent to us by Laurie Dirk
from Rochester, NY, who enjoys capturing nature
and wildlife on camera. Blue Jays are common
throughout the east and found in woods, parks and yards.

Watch a clip about wildlife photography on DEC's YouTube Channel (leaves DEC website) or follow some tips below for better wildlife photography.

Remember these tips when photographing wildlife:

  • Zoom in using your camera lens to avoid disturbing wildlife
  • Take photos from different angles to create an image.
  • Don't be afraid to photograph in all weather
  • Get down to the same level as your subject.
  • Be patient, still and quiet. Wait for the right moment.
  • Don't center your subject - use the 'Thirds' rule.
  • Remember to look up to find wildlife
  • Frame your image with foreground.
  • Reflections can create a calming/relaxing feel to an image.
  • Always look to see where the light is, try not to shoot directly into the sun.
  • Use fill flash to get rid of shadows.
  • Take horizontal and vertical images.
  • Wildlife Centers and parks are great places to find wildlife.
  • Put up bird feeders/houses near your home to capture closer bird images.

Do you have a favorite wildlife photograph to send us? It might be featured on our Watchable Wildlife webpage or in an issue of Conservationist. Photos can be e-mailed to or mailed to DEC, Bureau of Public Outreach, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4500. Please be sure to follow the guidelines for photos, which can be found in the magazine's contributors' guide.

Wildlife Watching Tips

Respect Nature

When looking for wildlife:

  • Don't feed the wildlife. Feeding can create dependence on humans and increase disease in wildlife.
  • Leave wild baby animals where you find them. All migratory birds are protected by state and federal law. Do not collect birds, eggs, or feathers.
  • Keep quiet, move slowly and be patient. This will increase your chances of seeing wildlife.
  • View wildlife from a distance using binoculars or a spotting scope to observe the natural behavior of animals.
    • It's safer for wildlife - especially vulnerable populations like young animals, breeding and nesting birds, and wintering raptors.
    • It's safer for you - animals may attack if they perceive you pose a threat to them or their young.
  • Avoid flushing or disturbing wildlife when watching or photographing them, and NEVER purposely chase wildlife!
    • Flushing wildlife will lead to stress, deplete stored energy, and can cause death or decreased reproduction.

Protect Habitat

  • Stay on existing roads, trails, or pathways to avoid trampling vegetation.
  • Check DEC's NY Nature Explorer--an online tool for learning about plants and habitats.
  • Visit wildlife refuges and other public natural areas.
  • Leave the area as you found it.
  • Know and observe the laws, rules, and regulations governing the area you are visiting.
  • Respect private property. Never enter private property without permission. Trespassing is illegal.
  • Park in designated parking areas or on the road shoulder completely out of travel lanes.
  • Use caution when leaving or entering your vehicle and use caution when crossing roads.
  • Group actions have magnified effects.
    • Ensure that all members of the group know and follow the above guidelines.
    • Monitor the behavior of group members and ensure they act responsibly.

Be considerate of others who may also be hiking or trying to see wildlife. Report Violators - Purposely disturbing, flushing, or chasing wildlife is harassment and is ILLEGAL If you witness such activity, please report it to the DEC Dispatch (1-877-457-5680).

Help the Species You Love to Watch

Help the species you love to watch by purchasing a habitat access stamp (only $5.00). By doing so, you can help conserve wildlife habitat and increase public access to wildlife-related recreation.

Watchable Wildlife Species

Don't forget to visit these DEC webpages to find interesting facts about your favorite wildlife species.

Partner Agencies (links leave DEC website)

Logos of all the partner agencies