Bird watching is one of the most relaxing, fun, and rewarding hobbies out there! It’s something you can do from the comfort of your own home, yet also provides the opportunity to travel all over the world to view some of the most vibrant, strange, and wonderful creatures on planet earth! There are whole clubs and communities of bird-watching enthusiasts, which always makes hobbies that much more enjoyable! Here are some of the best destinations for bird watching during any season so you can enjoy this awesome pastime no matter the season or location!
Birds By Season
Before we discuss the best destinations for bird watching, it’s important to understand the lives of birds as they differ from season to season! There are about 446 bird species that can be found in Michigan, but not all birds hang around year round! Here are some indicators of what many birds do throughout the year!
The changing weather brings with it a surge of avian activity! Throughout the fall, seasonal birds fly south to warmer, more tropical climates to ride out the winter months! They return to the North come springtime, right to your backyard! Many locations between the northern and southern states enjoy the flurry of species that visit on their ventures back to the North!
Although we may enjoy the return of the birds in the spring, come summertime, it seems the activity from our feathered friends has diminished. Where did they go? Anywhere between the spring and fall, many bird species hide out to molt, or shed their existing feathers to grow new ones!
Although some species still remain in the North for the winter, many migrate to southern regions to continue enjoying the warmth! This makes states like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and other southern states prime bird watching destinations during the winter months!
Although Michigan doesn't really make the list of top destinations for bird watching, you can still enjoy an array of species year round, right in your own backyard! Some regulars to keep an eye out for include:
- Black-capped chickadee—Year round
- American robin—Prevalent in early spring, state bird of Michigan
- Northern cardinal—Year round
- Blue jay—Year round
- Ruby-throated hummingbird—Present throughout the summer
- Red-bellied woodpecker—Year round
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Head up to the U.P. for some of the best bird-watching opportunities in Michigan! Whitefish Point Bird Observatory has been tracing the migrations of birds since 1979, and geese, ducks, loons, waterbirds, shorebirds, and more make up the more than 340 species that can be seen in this awesome place! Take a guided tour, even in the winter, or visit throughout the spring, summer, or fall when tons of activities are held, including an annual Spring Fling Festival, birdathons, and more! Visit their website for more info!
Pointe Mouillee State Game Area
Travel about 20 miles south of Detroit, and a wonderful haven for birds and bird watchers alike sits on the shores of Lake Erie! Pointe Mouillee State Game Area features 4,040 acres of protected land, making it one of the largest freshwater marsh restoration projects in the world! It’s home to several species of waterfowl, and other birds including the glossy ibis, osprey, whimbrel, black-billed plover, bald eagles, and more!
Cape May, New Jersey—All Year
Take a trip to the southern tip of New Jersey for some amazing bird watching! Cape May is where you'll find the Cape May Bird Observatory, which is one of the best birding destinations in the country, whether you’re a seasoned bird enthusiast or are eager to learn about our feathered friends! In the fall, you’ll marvel at the raptor migrations, including hawks, while shorebirds are more frequent in May and June! Other birds include an array of waterfowl, warblers, sparrow, swallows, and many more! Visit and participate in one of their several amazing programs and activities, including the World Series of Birding!
Adventure Bound Camping Resort
After the adventure of bird watching, check in and relax at Adventure Bound Camping Resort in Cape May! It’s fun for the whole family, with tons of great activities, inflatable water slides, and an awesome kid’s water park! If you want a more low key day of fun, visit the beaches and boardwalks, or do some sightseeing! Check out their website for more information!
Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona—Late Spring, Early Summer, & Winter
If you’re heading to the Southwest this winter, head to the Chiricahua Mountains and visit Cave Creek Canyon! This wonderful destination and many of its surrounding areas are perfect for bird watching! Keep an eye out for raptors like the zone-tailed hawk, screech owl, or other species like the colorful trogon during the summer, and many species of hummingbirds!
Sunny Flat Campground
Camping is available at nearby Sunny Flat Campground, which is a lovely stream-side campground! Gorgeous views of the nearby rock formations and mountains makes this stop worthwhile! Water is available year round, along with toilets and picnic tables, but there aren't any hookups available! Click here for more information!
Everglades National Park, Florida—Winter
What makes the Everglades a prime destination for bird watching? Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in this amazing area! Protecting birds was one of the big reasons that this area was turned into a national park! The area contains several different sites within the park that are amazing for bird watching, but the Anhinga Trail is especially incredible, where you’ll get an up-close view of birds like the anhinga (obviously), purple gallinule, heron, both glossy and white ibis, the greater flamingo, and so many others! Migratory species nestle in for the winter in these lands, making it a superb bird watching destination!
Everglades National Park features two different campgrounds and both are available throughout the winter! Reservations are accepted for Flamingo Campground, which is open year round with 234 drive-up sites, only 41 of which have hookups! Long Pine Key Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis and features bathrooms, showers, and a dump station, but there are no hookups available! Both of these campgrounds make for a fun wintertime adventure!
Monterey Bay, California—All Year
Although it is a fantastic place to visit for a variety of wildlife viewing, Monterey Bay is one of the best bird watching destinations in the U.S.! There is even an annual birding festival held every year to celebrate birds and bird watchers! Pay a visit to Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, which has been heralded as one of the top ten bird watching destinations in the world! With over 346 species of year-round and migratory birds, a visit during any season is sure to please! Take a pelagic birding trip by boat, and you’ll see several different species, and you might even get to see some whales too, which are widely known to frequent the area! You’ll get glimpses of herons, egrets, black-footed albatrosses, brown pelicans, and more! For a handy guide and full list of birds, check out their website!
Moss Landing KOA Express
For comfortable accommodations and a breathtaking location, the Moss Landing KOA Express is amazing! Not only are you a mere 10-minute drive from the beauty of Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, but you’re a couple minute’s drive from the oceanside! Head out bird watching, try out the restaurants or shop at places like Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery, book a whale watching tour, or just take in the fresh ocean air! With 50-amp service, Wi-Fi, and cable, this year-round campground is incredible!
Do you love bird watching? Which do you think are the best destinations for the best bird watching? Leave us a comment to let us know the best spots, your favorite birds to see, the best equipment to use, or any other tips and tricks!