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Thanks to its expansive size, the United States is an excellent place to explore our feathered friends in their natural habitats. From taking a boat ride off the coast of Maine to sail aside an arctic tern to listening for a woodpecker in the remote desert of Arizona, birdwatchers can add several amazing American destinations to their birdwatching itinerary.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Located along the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is a true haven for birdwatchers. Travelers in the winter and summer will find plenty of species to keep them occupied. A record of 338 different species have been spotted within the park and the diverse terrain is home to owls, ducks, raptors, and songbirds.
The park even hosts the Acadia Birding Festival, a celebration of these beautiful winged creatures. It includes a boat trip off the coast to get a close look at Atlantic puffins and arctic terns. The park is open 24 hours a day every day of the year, so there's no excuse to not visit! A $30 vehicle pass gives guests seven days of access to the grounds, plus there are plenty of public and private camping options around.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Just outside of Tucson, Arizona, travelers can explore Saguaro National Park. It's an excellent landscape for birdwatchers hoping to see desert species at a close distance. Roadrunners, woodpeckers, and quail are common to spot, but over 200 species of birds call the park home or migrate through it.
Hiking is the best activity for truly getting a sense of the land and its feathered occupants. The park offers 75 miles of trails that wind through the desert scrub habitats, offering plenty of chances for quiet reflection and bird spotting. Adventurous hikers will be rewarded for a little extra effort. A climb up the Rincon Mountain District of the park will take visitors into different habitats with opportunities to hear (and maybe even see) a canyon wren or a peregrine falcon.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Billed as one of the top birding locations in the world, Everglades National Park is a definite must for bird lovers. Located on the southern tip of Florida close to Miami, Everglades is the most ornithologically diverse site in the whole state. It is home to 344 different species and includes many wading birds.
There are multiple birdwatching sites located within the park including Nine Mile Pond (an excellent place to spot white-crowned pigeons), the Anhinga Trail (for a chance to see the purple gallinule), and Eco Pond (home to American coots and red-shouldered hawks). Many birds such as warblers spend winter in the Everglades — making this an excellent place to visit any time of the year.
Cape May Point, New Jersey
Located along the New Jersey shoreline, Cape May Point is high on the list of best birdwatching places in America. For over 200 years, bird enthusiasts including John Audubon himself have been drawn to the spot. Visitors will be delighted to find that there are plenty of cozy accommodations in this residential area that are especially cheap during the fall — the perfect season for birdwatching.
The Cape May Bird Observatory, founded in 1975, offers an even more informative way for birdwatchers to get close to their favorite species. At different times throughout the year, guests can spot spot warblers, kingbirds, black terns, and ospreys. Although autumn is the best time for birdwatchers visiting Cape May Point, visitors in the summer will get a chance to see fledgling wading birds.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Situated along the Mexican border in western Texas, Big Bend National Park offers American birdwatchers the rare chance to spot tropical species. In the springtime, several of these southern feathered friends make the flight northward to breed. The Colima warbler is a particular draw and requires a hike through the Chisos Mountains. The mountains also offer the chance to see peregrine falcons, painted redstarts, and even the rare white-eared hummingbird.
This single park features a variety of habitats including desert, mountain woodlands, and rivers. It's an excellent place to see a diverse array of birds on a single trip. However, the park does tend to stay busy most of the year and might require some advanced planning to ensure accommodations. The busiest times are mid-January through mid-April and the park is particularly crowded in March when spring-breakers tend to camp.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park, which is located in northwestern Wyoming, offers yet another collection of diverse species in a beautiful setting. The 40-mile Teton Range is a defining characteristic of the landscape and it includes Grand Teton, which reaches an elevation of over 13,000 feet. This high-altitude landscape is home to a wide range of birds such as the black-billed magpie, the golden-crowned kinglet, and even the golden eagle.
Many of the birds in the area are migratory, so there might be a limited window each year to spot them. Those who are looking for some particularly interesting species might find themselves drawn to the calliope hummingbird (the smallest bird north of Mexico) or the trumpeter swan (the largest waterfowl in North America). The park is open 24 hours a day every day of the year, but there are often road closures in the winter. Birdwatchers will find the most success in the summer when there are far more species living in the park. A $35 vehicle fee will give guests seven days of access to the park and all its wonderful sightings.