Birdwatching sometimes gets a bad rap. But the stereotypical birder — a binocular-wearing septuagenarian sporting a fawn gilet covered in pockets — just is not relevant anymore. Birding is big business these days, with plenty of millennials taking up the pastime and enjoying the excuse to explore the wonders of nature.
With over 45 million birdwatchers in the US alone, this once-fringe hobby has gone mainstream. People now travel to Alaska by cruise or fly down to the Everglades just to catch a glimpse of their favorite winged species.
So, if you are one of the new breed of birders, here is a little guide to the best places to birdwatch in the US:
Southeast Arizona offers a wonderful experience for American birders, with a fantastic range of native Mexican species not found anywhere else in the US. Tucson is a great base to explore the area and is not too shabby when it comes to birdwatching sites itself, with Evergreen Cemetery and Sentinel Peak Park both worth checking out. If you are lucky, you will see roadrunners, grey hawks, elegant trogons, painted redstarts, and even the odd pine warbler.
Right on the southernmost point of Texas, Harlingen is an excellent spot for dedicated birders, not least because it plays host to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in the fall. It ends up being a confluence during the migration season, with breeding birds heading south and a bunch of species from Central America ending up a little further north than might be considered normal. Keep your eyes peeled for green jays and your ears open for the magnificent and raucous chachalaca.
Point Reyes, California
Just outside San Francisco, the Point Reyes National Seashore has an extraordinary abundance of bird species, more than any other national park in the country. With shorebirds, migratory species, and raptors galore, the variety is incredible and makes it one of the best places in the US for a birdwatching trip. Highlights include the lovely snowy plover and the reclusive northern spotted owl.
An otherwise underappreciated corner of the country, Toledo makes waves in the birding community when it hosts the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival. Magee Marsh and Lake Eerie are unrivaled when it comes to spotting warblers, and there are over 300 different species that visit this little corner of the Midwest every May.