Springtime is the peak season for birdwatching in the Hudson Valley. Whether you’re a novice or expert, or just looking for a morning walk, afternoon hike, or weekend excursion, Hudson Valley-based birding clubs and organizations have plenty of guided outdoor options available. You might even wind up adding your watch results to a national census.
Learn from local experts and birding enthusiasts about where to find these delicate, melodious, and colorful creatures in their natural habitats. There are some 476 different species of birds in New York State with about 300 varieties in Ulster and Dutchess counties. Now is the time to watch them migrate, mate, and nest in the Hudson Valley.
Owls, peregrine falcons, thrushes, herons, nighthawks, warblers, woodpeckers, merlins, vireos, bitterns, cuckoos and sparrows are just a few of the sights and sounds of spring. Many of the guided birdwatching walks and hikes provided by clubs and organizations outlined here are free and open to the public. Try more than one. Who knows, you may decide to become a member.
John Burroughs Natural History Society
From the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains, you can experience birding as guided by members of the John Burroughs Natural Historic Society. JBNHS offers field trips, lectures, and a newsletter called, The Chirp.
“During March, April, and May, the males (birds) are the most vocal. You are certain to see birds in textbook plumage,” JBNHS President Mark DeDea says. Migratory birds like thrushes and warblers can be seen from May to early September. “They spend a portion of their life here and winter in the tropics,” DeDea adds.
“Take the kids outside. Absorb what you see, what you hear,” DeDea says. “It’s a great time to learn and make friends with others who have a shared interest,” DeDea adds. A list of spring birdwatching events is below.
For more information, visit: jbnhs.org
John Burroughs Natural History Society SPRING SCHEDULE
Saturday, April 22, 8:00am
Open Discovery at Burroughs Sanctuary
The second in a series of outings co-sponsored with the John Burroughs Association at the wonderful Burroughs Sanctuary. Various signs of spring will be observed and celebrated on the improved trail system (rated as easy to moderate) and following our walk participants can explore Slabsides and learn more about the interesting life and writings of our famous namesake. Meet trip leader Joe Bridges (email@example.com) at trailhead on Burroughs Drive. Follow the “Path through History” signs at the intersection of Floyd Ackert Road and Rt. 9W in West Park and turn west onto Floyd Ackert Road (at Global Palate restaurant) and continue for .8 mile, then left on Burroughs Drive for .3 mile.
Saturday, April 29, 7:00am – Noon
Kenneth Wilson State Park
This park offers a variety of habitats and all are easily accessible, with much of the walk on pavement. Join trip leader Peter Schoenberger (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the start of neotropical bird migration, and if we’re quiet, maybe a drumming grouse too! Meet at the state park lot on Wittenberg Road in the Town of Woodstock at 7:00am. If time allows we may travel to nearby Yankeetown Pond as well.
Sunday, April 30, 7:30am – Noon or later
Spring Birds and Wildflowers in Saugerties
The Esopus Creek Conservancy and John Burroughs Natural History Society are co-sponsoring a guided nature walk in woodlands and wetlands in the Town of Saugerties. The first week in May is typically the peak migration period for neotropical birds at this latitude, and early morning is the best time to see and hear recently arrived songbirds in their brilliant spring plumage. We will explore a variety of ecologically rich habitats to experience this annual rite of spring, identifying birds by sight and sound while pausing along the way to observe a diversity of wildflowers and animal life. Meet at 7:30 am in the Saugerties Village Beach parking lot on Rte. 9W, just north of the Esopus Creek Bridge, at the foot of Partition Street in the Village of Saugerties. Bring binoculars, field guides, and spotting scopes if you have them, and be prepared for wet, muddy trails, and early spring weather conditions. Light rain often makes for excellent birding and nature observation, but heavy rain will cancel the walk. Children are welcome and encouraged, but please do not bring pets. Contact the field trip leader, Steve Chorvas (email@example.com) for additional information or directions. This joint ECC/JBNHS Environmental Education walk is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but recommended in the event of unforeseen changes or cancellation. For additional information about upcoming ECC Nature Walks and Paddles, please visit esopuscreekconservancy.org.
Monday, May 1, 6:00am
Spring Migration at High Banks
An early morning visit during spring migration to this new Scenic Hudson property in the Town of Esopus should provide a generous selection of neotropical migrants. Meet trip leader Jess Prockup (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the preserve parking lot at 132 River Road.
Tuesday, May 2, 7:00am – Noon
Warbler Walk #1
Meet Carol Weber (email@example.com 914 388-1569) and Gerhard Patsch (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Village of New Paltz parking lot off Huguenot Street. The group will visit environs near town and travel towards Mohonk to search for neotropical migrants. Feel free to meet in the field or leave early for work.
Saturday, May 6
Ulster County Big Sit
Can you identify nocturnal flight notes? Do you know a location (specifically a 17' diameter circle) in Ulster County where you could spend up to 24 hours and find the greatest diversity of bird species? Join an established sit or create your own. This can be a friendly competition but hopefully a fun and creative way for JBNHS to raise a little money to help support environmental and educational efforts locally. Contact organizer Donna Seymour (email@example.com) for more information.
Tueday, May 9, 7:00am – Noon
Warbler Walk #2
Meet Carol Weber (firstname.lastname@example.org, 914-388-1569) and Gerhard Patsch (email@example.com) at the Village of New Paltz parking lot off Huguenot Street. The group will visit environs near town and travel towards Mohonk to search for neotropical migrants. Feel free to meet in the field or leave early for work.
Saturday, May 13
Ulster County Spring Census: Big Day Count
This is the day we all look forward to. Spend the whole day in the field or just a few hours....who knows what may be found. Refer to your copy of Where to Bird in Ulster County or visit www.jbnhs.org for good birding locations. Submit your report in checklist order to Steve Chorvas (firstname.lastname@example.org) or P.O. Box 214, Saugerties, NY 12477). This information is combined in a regional report published by the New York State Ornithological Association.
Friday–Sunday, May 19–21
JBNHS Cape May Trip
Contact organizer Donna Seymour (email@example.com).
Saturday, May 27, 8:00am
Albany Pine Bush Preserve/Karner Blue Trip
Meet trip leader Steve Chorvas (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the parking lot between the Saugerties Big Lots and CVS on Rt. 212 for an 8:00am carpooling departure to visit the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The preserve has 45 wildlife “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” of the 538 found in New York State. This includes 15 birds, 14 reptiles and amphibians, and 16 insects, as well as two rare natural communities. It also supports more than 20 at-risk species that are either state or federally listed as rare or endangered including on the most famous residents, the endangered Karner blue butterfly.
Saturday, June 10, 8:00am
Breeding Birds at Burroughs Sanctuary
The third in a series of outings co-sponsored with the John Burroughs Association at the wonderful Burroughs Sanctuary. A variety of forest breeding birds will be encountered on the improved trail system (rated as easy to moderate) and following our walk participants can explore Slabsides and learn more about the interesting life and writings of our famous namesake. Meet trip leader Mark DeDea (email@example.com) at the trailhead on Burroughs Drive. Follow the “Path through History” signs at the intersection of Floyd Ackert Road and Rt. 9W in West Park and turn west onto Floyd Ackert Road (at Global Palate Restaurant) and continue for .8 mile, then left on Burroughs Drive for .3 mile.
Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club
For birding in Dutchess County, take a guided walk with the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club. “The Hudson Valley is a natural migratory pathway with a plethora of different habitats,” says RTWBC Co-Education Chair Alan Peterson.
“On an average walk, you can see 40 to 60 birds during this time of year in one habitat,” Peterson says. “Even if you don’t know how to bird, we accept all skill levels. You don’t have to be a member to go on the field trips,” Peterson adds.
Saturday, April 8
Leader: Adrienne Popko. Please call 845-264-2015 if you plan to attend and for meeting time.
Wednesday, April 12, 8:30am
Millbrook School Fields
Meet at the Trevor Zoo parking lot on Millbrook School Rd. off Rt. 44, Millbrook.
Wednesday, April 19, 8:30am
Dutchess Rail Trail – Hopewell Junction
Meet at new parking lot, Rt. 376, Hopewell Junction.
Wednesday, April 26, 8:30am
Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary (“Buttercup West”)
Meet at the parking lot off Rt.82 (Stissing Mountain Ln. and right on Stissing Mountain Rd.), Stanfordville.
Sunday, April 30, 7:45am
Pawling Nature Reserve
Leaders: Barbara Michelin and FrOGS. Meet at the Rt. 22 parking lot (north of North Quaker Hill Rd., CT 68) at 7:45am to carpool. Please call 845-297-6701 if you plan to attend.
For May and June schedules, visit: watermanbirdclub.org
With more than 8,000 acres, the Mohonk Preserve is New York State’s largest non-profit nature preserve. From the end of February to June, volunteers and experts in Mohonk Preserve’s Citizen Science Program observe the breeding and nesting habits of the peregrine falcon, still considered endangered in New York State.
“The Citizen Science Program is contributing to legitimate scientific data collection nationally,” says Citizen Science Education Coordinator Christy Belardo. “This shared conservation science data is accessed by data researchers around the world,” adds Belardo.
From May to June, volunteers can take part in the annual Breeding Bird Census. Volunteers generate territory maps and note habitat preferences and changes in breeding species. “The first confirmed Acadian flycatcher record at Mohonk Preserve was documented on the Breeding Bird Census,” says Belardo. “No matter what time of year, many types of birds enjoy the preserve,” Belardo adds.
Mohonk Preserve Spring Schedule
Early Morning Bird Walks
Saturdays: April 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, August 12 and September 9 from 7am–9am. Various locations.
Join Mohonk Preserve Conservation Science staff on an early morning bird walk. No experience necessary, beginners welcome. Bring binoculars if you own a pair (a few pairs will be available on a first come first served basis). This program includes a 1-2 mile walk. Space is limited, registration is required. Free for Mohonk Preserve members. Non-members receive a complimentary day pass at their first walk. Non-members are welcome to join for the series but will be required to purchase a day pass ($15)
For information on where to meet, times, program events, hikes, and how to become a volunteer,
Mohonk Mountain House
Birding and Spring Nature Weekend (May 19, 20, 21)
Turn birdwatching into a vacation at Mohonk Mountain House by reserving your stay during the Birding and Spring Nature Weekend in May. Relax in charming accommodations and enjoy delicious meals, afternoon tea and cookies, guided bird walks, nature hikes, live birds of prey lectures, and resort activities.
The annual weekend event is growing in popularity says Michael Losito, who is one of five program leaders. “We have a core group who come up just for the nature weekend and we get new people every year. All the leaders have various expertise in the sciences,” says Losito. Birders may encounter up to 100 different species during peak period. “Warblers are tiny and colorful with explosive musical sounds. Vireos are migrating up. Thrushes are great songsters,” Losito adds. To pamper yourself with a three-day weekend stay at Mohonk Mountain House during Birding and Spring Nature Weekend, you can call 855-883-3798 for reservations.
For more information and a full schedule of the event, visit: mohonk.com/programs/birding.