Did you know? New York has about 495 different species of birds across the state! Some can easily be seen flying around the bird feeders in your backyard, while others are much harder to spot! Whether you're birding from the bridge of a nature trail or the couch in your living room, it’s always a magical moment connecting with nature and coming across new or familiar feathered friends of all shapes and sizes.
Here are just a handful of birds that you can find in New York!
The only and only New York State Bird! Eastern Bluebirds are the most widespread of the three bluebirds in the country and can spot their prey from a distance of 60 feet away - that’s some great eyesight! Bluebirds don’t particularly like to feed from bird feeders, but will come to dine if there are mealworms around. In recent decades, the Eastern Bluebird population has made quite the comeback! With a scarce decline in the beginning of the early twentieth century, their numbers have thankfully recovered and continue to grow with the help of more readily available bird houses all over the country.
You’ve probably seen this funny fellow dancing its way around the internet, but their “bob” walk is actually how they detect worms below! The rocking back-and-forth motion causes worms to move around in the soil, making them squirm closer to the surface for Woodcocks to catch. Unlike their coastal relatives, the Piper, Woodcocks live amongst young forests and shrubby old fields. They are also nicknamed: timberdoodles, Labrador twisters, night partridges, and bog suckers!
Belted Kingfishers are notorious for their large heads, spiky hairdos, hefty bills, and rattling bird calls! They primarily live along streams or shorelines, perched on riverside branches. They’re also one of the few bird species where females have more colorful plumage than males, with a rust-colored band across their chest. When birding for Belted Kingfishers, keep an ear out for their distinct rattles - you will hear them first before spotting them!
As large as a crow, these enormous woodpeckers are not that hard to spot! Between their signature black and white stripes across their heads and their huge flaming-red crests, the Pileated Woodpecker is very easy to recognize. These forest birds favor dead trees to find their food and carve out rectangular holes that provide shelter to other animals! Did you also know? Their tongues actually wrap around their brains as protection when pecking! Look it up, we double dog dare ya!
These long-bodied, yodeling water birds are the symbols of wilderness! Common Loons only go ashore to mate or incubate eggs; their legs are awkwardly positioned to the very back of its body, making it hard for them to walk on land. But, they are fast swimmers and can move pretty quickly in the air, as well! They have been known to fly up to 70 mph! These feathered airplanes also need a long stretch of water to take off or else they can get stranded if a pond is too small. Nonprofits such as the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation
help to protect these beautiful birds and spread awareness through education and research.
Make a check-list! Bring your binoculars, bug spray, a bird guide, wildlife camera with extra batteries (optional), weather-appropriate attire, and a physical copy or screenshot of the trail map you'll be exploring so that you don't get lost!
Keep quiet and avoid sudden movements! Birds can be easily startled by loud noises and flee their nests, leaving their chicks vulnerable to predators.
Be patient and try to start your birding between dawn and 11am. When it's too late in the day, birds will retire back to their homes and are less likely to be seen.
Study and pick the habitat that you are most interested in! Different birds live in different regions and where you are birding will determine which feathered friends you will see.
Have fun! That's what birding is all about! Tag us on Instagram with your birding adventures - we'd love to see what you stumble upon! IG: @upstateofmind