New England is one of the major birdwatching destinations in the country and it’s home to a variety of bird species, which is what makes it a birding hotspot during the spring, summer, and even winter months. I’ve compiled a list of the top birdwatching spots in New England, each of which allows you to view these beautiful birds up close, and check them off your sighting list. I’ve also included a list of the most popular birds to sight in this region. If you’re planning your next birding vacation in the USA, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another destination that can offer the opportunity to check some of the most beautiful and rarest birds off your list. If you’re not familiar with the type of birding experience that this region has to offer, then this guide will show you exactly what you’re missing, where you can find the most elusive species, and where you should plan to go on your next birding adventure.

Birding in New England

Those new to birding may not know much about why New England is such a birding hotspot and many are surprised to learn that this region is home to hundreds of different species, many of which are very rare. Not only can you find excellent accommodations here, but you’ll be pleased to learn that you can easily plan out an affordable vacation that you and the whole family will love.

Of course, New England is a popular vacation destination spot for many reasons, but aside from the scenic beauty, its bird population is something even those who are not into birding can appreciate.

Birding organizations across the USA recommend visiting New England for the ultimate birding experience. Once you reach your destination and set out for a birding adventure, you’ll find that there are so many different species in this region, you can easily lose track of hours as you seek out some of the most beautiful and interesting birds in the country. Below, you’ll find a list of the common birds to sight in New England, some rare species, and a guide on where you can find them.

Eastern Bluebird

New England remains one of the best birding destinations in the USA, not just for its beautiful beaches and marshlands, but for its unique eastern bluebird population. Typically, western and mountain bluebirds are  found to the west of prairie states, but the eastern bluebird remains one of the most elusive. Male eastern bluebirds feature reddish-brown flanks, sides, and breast, with a bright blue back. The underparts of the male are white. The female’s coloration is similar, however, the colors are more muted compared to the vivid colors of the male. Young eastern bluebirds have a tail and wings that are blue, with white spots on the breast and back, with a grayish body color. While the bluebird population has declined over the years, nest boxes have been placed in places where these birds typically prefer to nest. By using the best birdhouses, the bird population has slowly started to make a comeback.

Scarlet Tanager

This is a beautifully colored bird. Males have black on the tail, back, and wings, while the body of the bird is a beautiful red. These birds have plumage that changes based on the season. Sightings of these birds are extremely rare, despite their bright plumage. This is because they’re usually only found in the highest portion of trees. Here, they will spend most of their time moving from tree to tree in search of food. Not only are they hard to sight, but they are also extremely quiet, so hearing their call is also a rarity. If you’re very patient, it is possible to sight one of these birds, just be prepared to wait a while.

Goldfinch

The male goldfinch has a bright yellow body during the mating season. Their bodies have black wings, complete with white stripes, and a black head. The winter males and females will have color that’s very dull as their feathers take on a yellow-greenish color. The black cap on the male’s head will turn dull or may disappear altogether.

Purple Martin

These birds are fascinating to watch. Their singing at dawn, graceful flight and beautiful coloring makes them a birdwatcher’s favorite to sight. This large swallow can often be found in birdhouses all over the region, that have specifically been put up for these birds who love to roost together in a large community. In fact, many people who live in this region will purchase birdhouses for purple martins, which usually consist of several small cubbies that are perfect for this species to roost during the winter months and nest in the late spring and early summer.

The Perfect Spots to Sight

There are some birds that are more elusive than others. However, this is a region that many elusive species of bird call home, which will give the birder the opportunity to finally cross many species of birds off their list.

Below, you’ll find a list of the top spots to sight these birds and other popular species that are found all over New England. While some species of birds are difficult to sight, hitting the region’s hottest birding spots will give you a better chance of catching a glimpse of these rare birds.

Arcadia National Park

Head to Arcadia National Park where you can enjoy more than forty-seven thousand acres of streams, forests, marsh ponds, lakes, coastline. This park offers an impressive diversity of animal and plant life and is home to over three hundred species of birds.

Baxter State Park

This park offers more than two hundred thousand acres and features four different climatic zones including alpine tundra vegetation, boreal forest, and hardwoods. You’ll find an impressive variety of birdlife from crossbills to warblers.

Parker River

This wildlife refuge offers the perfect nesting place for songbirds, shorebirds, and migrant waterfowl. This park features four thousand, six hundred and sixty acres and attracts more than three hundred species.

Outer Cape

This wildlife sanctuary is one of the best places to sight terns, piping plovers, gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, and herons. Fall and spring migration will usually draw rare species.

Odiorne Point State Park

This park features three hundred and thirty acres. Forestlands, salt marshes, and tidepools can be found throughout the park. The overgrown bunkers and an ocean jetty adds more variety to the park, as do the rare species of birds that you’ll find throughout. Birds include kestrels, merlin, and peregrine. In the winter, you will find many species of waterfowl, while the warblers make an appearance in the spring.

Machias Seal Island

This island is home to many nesting puffins, in addition to artic terns, common murre, black guillemot, razorbills, and the common eider. Jaegers and shearwaters can often be sighted on the back of the island.

Connecticut Region

In this region, you’ll find the blacked backed-woodpecker, rusty blackbird, and the northern saw-whet owl, which are among the most common birds sighted in this region, in addition to the common raven, boreal chickadee, gray, jay, and the spruce grouse.

Dead Creek

Found along the Atlantic flyway, the southern tributary of Lake Champlain is known for its population of snow geese that migrate here every year. This place is home to a number of migrant shorebirds and waterfowl. These wetlands are home to more than two hundred species of birds, which can make for one exciting birding adventure.

Block Island Wildlife Refuge

This island can be reached by taking an hour-long ferry from Port Judith in Narragansett. The island itself is very small and located directly on the edge of the Atlantic flyway. It’s home to a variety of habitats such as ponds, beaches, dunes, and scrublands. This refuge covers approximately twenty-eight percent of the northern end of the island. The rest of the property is off-limits to the public.

Hammonasset Beach State Park

This small piece of land juts into Long Island Sound. In the past, it was used by the army to test ammunition. It’s now home to twenty-six different types of ducks, fifteen species of warblers, and twenty types of sparrows. In total, you will find over two hundred and eighty different species of birds, so you’re sure to check off several rare and interesting species from your birding checklist.

Final Thoughts

The top birdwatching spots in New England will give you plenty of variety and a look at different types of habitats where native and migrating birds can be found flying, foraging for food and displaying mating behaviors. If you’re looking for a birding hotspot that will give you the opportunity to sight rare and interesting species, you’ll find that New England is the ultimate birding destination, with thousands of visitors who make the journey each year to explore marshes, beaches, shrublands and wetlands in search of that rare bird they can finally check off their list.