Top Spots for Birding
Favorite fall birding destinations
AFTER REVEALING the favorite fall birding destinations of some of the nation's top bird-watchers (see "Great Escapes," October/November 2003), the editors of National Wildlife asked readers to share their favorite places to watch avian migrations in autumn. Here is a sampling of the many replies.
West Coast Raptors
Fall and winter are my favorite times to bird at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. Located smack-dab in the middle of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, its 1,000 acres of salt marsh are home to the largest concentration of raptors on the West Coast. No where else will you find hundreds upon hundreds of red-tailed hawks perched on just about every building roof, light pole and tree! A truly awesome sight, to be sure.
Los Alamitos, CA
I enjoyed reading about the experts' favorite fall birding destinations and would like to mention my favorite: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, most of which is located on Assateague Island in Virginia. This is a shared domain with the National Park Service and the birding there is wonderful any time of year.
Falcons and Foliage
Where do I want to be during fall migration? Hawk Ridge Nature Preserve in Duluth, Minnesota. It's one of North America's best (and most accessible) places to experience the spectacle of fall hawk migration. It's also a great place to experience the spectacular fall foliage along the north shore of Lake Superior.
My favorite is the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas, California. It is a 1,000-acre wetland teeming with birds. We have identified 315 species that use the lagoon at some time of the year. We have 65 resident species, including 5 endangered.
Cardiff by the Sea, California
Sand and Snow Geese
The sand flats near Prime Hook, Delaware, are great places to see migrating snow geese. There are reported to be about 30,000 of the birds here in the fall.
My favorite fall birding destination is Magee Marsh in Ohio, directly across Lake Erie from Ken Kaufmann's destination of Point Pelee. Why Magee Marsh? For starters, it is only 15 miles from my home, which provides me many opportunities to view and photograph southbound migrants. (One memorable morning last fall I saw 16 species of warblers, 4 species of vireos and other goodies, including the yellow-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak.) Another reason I enjoy fall migration at Magee Marsh is because there are lots of dogwood berries there. Many warbler species can be observed at close range while they leisurely consume the fruit.
Brian L. Zwiebel
Our favorite bird-watching destination during fall, winter and spring is our backyard. We enjoy the great variety of birds that make our area their winter home. They truly are "snowbirds," the local reference to our part-time visitors.
Fort Myers, Florida
Waterbirds in Montana
My favorite bird destination is Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Montana. I have seen most of the duck species, many sandpipers, geese and swans. A few years ago I observed a pomarine jaeger; another time I saw a long-tailed jaeger.