Five Essential New England Destinations For Birdwatching

New England is renowned worldwide for its spectacular fall foliage, and all of that crimson flora plays host to a lot more than just leaf peepers. The biodiversity of the region ranges from towering moose to tiny ladybugs, with no shortage of native birds to find as well. From the pristine shores of the Bay State to the rugged northern Vermont border, New England is home to a wealth of incredible destinations for both visiting and local birders.

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Measuring in at over 43,000 acres of Bay State coastline, the Cape Cod National Seashore offers some of the finest seabird biodiversity in all of Massachusetts. More than 350 different varieties of bird call the region home, with roughly 80 of them using the protected land as a site for rearing chicks. On the coast of Wellfleet, Marconi Beach has earned abundant acclaim for its stunning seaside cliffs, with no shortage of avian life calling the area home. During a visit, visitors can spot a massive array of shorebirds ranging from American oystercatchers to razorbills, while waterfowl like horned grebe and black scoter can also be found feeding along the water.

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Vermont

Ruby-throated hummingbirds, American woodcocks, and barred owls are just a few species found across Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, a small patch of protected land found just south of the U.S.-Canada border. First established in 1943 to preserve habitat for migratory birds, the preserve earned Ramsar Wetland designation in 2013 due to its high concentration of marshland, serving as a prominent Vermont haven for waterfowl like green-winged teals and buffleheads. In terms of migratory species, Missisquoi is home to the bulk of the state’s black tern population, providing lucky birders with an opportunity to spot these charismatic seabirds in the flesh.

Block Island, Rhode Island

Located roughly twelve miles south of the Rhode Island coast, idyllic Block Island is a paradise for cycling, sunbathing, and birding. Avian life can be spotted all across the region, but for those in search of more than just common gulls, the northern Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is an absolute must-visit. One particularly valuable species to the area is the piping plover—this small shorebird was the focus of major conservation efforts throughout the 20th century, and in the modern era, it can be found nesting across the Block Island coast. In addition to shorebirds, Block Island also serves as a prominent stopover point for songbirds traveling along the Atlantic Flyway.

Baxter State Park, Maine

Though coastal Maine is renowned for its high concentration of seabirds, there’s a world of birding to be discovered in the state’s remote interior, with Baxter State Park serving as its crown jewel. Megafauna like black bears, moose, and bobcats can all be found during a visit, but for birders in particular, the preserve offers a wide array of avifauna both large and small. Warblers abound across the region, with bay-breasted, magnolia, and yellow varieties all in attendance, while fans of raptors can scan the skies for Cooper’s hawks, ospreys, and even the occasional bald eagle.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Planning a nature-focused trip to the northern reaches of the Granite State? Don’t miss out on White Mountain National Forest, a massive expanse of federally-owned land that spans the New Hampshire-Maine border. In addition to popular hiking trails like Artists Bluff and Champney Falls, this 750,000-acre region is also packed with native New Hampshire species spanning all walks of life. Common passerines like yellow-rumped warblers, tufted titmice, and red-eyed vireos can be found in abundance, while one species in particular—the Bicknell’s Thrush—has been the focus of serious conservation efforts over the past decades, with White Mountain National Forest offering the largest uninterrupted breeding habitat in the northeastern United States.

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