The National Wildlife Federation

Donate Donate

Ten Great Birding Destinations Part 2

Some of the best birding locations are on military bases

  • Chris Eberly
  • Oct 01, 2005
An abbreviated version of this list appears in the article “Bases Loaded,” written by National Wildlife Senior Editor Laura Tangley.

 

Eglin AFB – west Florida (panhandle)

Location: Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton Counties (FL), between I-10 and the Gulf of Mexico, north of Fort Walton Beach and Destin.

Size: 464,000 acres, more than half of which are open to public access on a regular basis; 17 miles of barrier island and beach dune habitat.

Best time to visit: year-round

Habitats: longleaf pine (including old growth), bottomland hardwoods, freshwater marshes, beach dunes.

Bird species: Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Southeastern American Kestrel; Prothonotary and Swainson’s Warblers (summer); Snowy Plover, Least Tern, and Black Skimmer (spring and summer); Mississippi Kite (spring and summer).

Access requirements: Recreational Permit required ($7, good for one year, Oct 1-Sept 30).

Contact Information: Jackson Guard (natural resource office), Route 85 North in Niceville, FL, 850-882-4164

More details: Winging It, October 2003 (accessible from checklists page, www.dodpif.org

 

Fort Drum – upstate New York

Location: Jefferson and Lewis Counties (NY), just northeast of Watertown.

Size: 107,265 acres.

Best time to visit: spring and summer.

Habitats: coniferous/deciduous forest, oak savannas, grasslands, wetlands.

Bird species: BREEDING: American Woodcock (also early spring), Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Vesper and Grasshopper Sparrow, Common Nighthawk, Blackburnian and Chestnut-sided Warblers; WINTER: Snow Bunting, Snowy Owl, Rough-legged Hawk.

Access requirements: Driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance required for vehicle pass and Recreation Permit and Access Pass. $5 annual fee for Other Activities (includes bird watching), valid through September 30 each year.

Contact Information: Natural Resources Branch, Fish and Wildlife Program, 315-772-4999; also see http://www.drum.army.mil/garrison/pw/FishAndWild.html.

 

Fort Belvoir – northern Virginia

Location: Fairfax County (VA), 10 miles south of Washington DC along the Potomac River.

Size: approx. 9,000 acres; includes 1,360-acre Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge,146-acre Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, and 742-Forest and Wildlife Corridor.

Best time to visit: year-round

Habitats: bottomland hardwood and upland pine forests, early successional grass-shrub, freshwater marshes, mud flats, open water.

Bird species: WINTER: Bald Eagle, waterfowl (diversity and abundance), Brown Creeper; MIGRATION: shorebirds, thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, Chimney Swift (fall); BREEDING: Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary, Prairie and Worm-eating Warblers.

Access requirements: Driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance required for vehicle pass. No fee.

Contact Information: Environmental and Natural Resources Division, 703-806-0049; see [http://www.belvoir.army.mil/]Directions and additional access information.

More details: Winging It, April 2004 (accessible from checklists page, www.dodpif.org

 

Fort McCoy – west central Wisconsin

Location: Monroe County (WI), 8 miles east of Sparta.

Size: 60,000 acres; includes 47,000 acres of woodlands, 4,000 acres of wetlands, 9000 acres of grasslands,13 lakes, and streams.

Best time to visit: spring and fall migrations, summer.

Habitats: coniferous, oak, and mixed conifer/deciduous woodlands, sand prairie, grasslands, oak savanna/barrens, wetlands.

Bird species: WINTER: Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Saw-Whet and Short-eared Owls, Evening Grosbeak; MIGRATION: shorebirds, waterfowl, thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers; BREEDING: Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrow, Dickcissel, Upland Sandpiper, Black-billed Cuckoo, Veery.

Access requirements: Driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance required for vehicle pass. No fee.

Contact Information: Wildlife Program office, 608-388-5374, -2308, or -5766. Map will be provided showing open areas, plus a bird checklist.

More details: Winging It, May/June 2005 (accessible from checklists page, www.dodpif.org

 

Orchard Training Area (Idaho Army National Guard) – southwest Idaho

Location: south of Boise; within the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Ada, Owyhee, and Elmore Counties (ID).

Size: approx. 138,000 acres; Snake River NCA totals approx. 485,000 acres.

Best time to visit: spring-early summer.

Habitats: sage-shrublands, grasslands, streams and rivers, cliffs.

Bird species: YEAR-ROUND: Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Long- and Short-eared Owls; Canyon Wren; WINTER: Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Gyrfalcon, Bufflehead; MIGRATION: waterfowl, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk; BREEDING: Northern Saw-Whet and Burrowing Owls, Ferruginous and Swainson’s Hawks; Wilson’s Phalarope, Long-billed Curlew.

Access requirements: No fee.

Contact Information: Bureau of Land Management, 208-384-3300.

Get Involved

   Please leave this field empty

Happening Near You

You don't have to travel far to join us for an event. Attend an upcoming event with one of our regional centers or affiliates.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates