Adirondack Birding & Boreal Birds

Adirondack Birding

Hamilton County: in the heart of the boreal zone

The music and rhythm of the year

The music of the birding calendar begins in silence. For as the new year begins, the deep layers of snow muffle the world around us as if all life is asleep and waiting to be awakened in spring. 

But that is not entirely truthful. While the diversity of birds is at its lowest point during the winter, it does not mean that the music is only found in the whistle of a cold wind, or that it has stopped altogether. Instead is it often subtler – found in the chatter of Black-capped Chickadees and the robotic calls of Red-breasted Nuthatches. Our resident boreal species are likewise understated, meaning birders in search of Boreal Chickadees and Black-backed Woodpeckers in some of our coniferous forests, such as those around Sabattis Bog, must pay attention to their nasal chatter and soft tapping. 

These can be echoed by the quiet calls of inquisitive Canada Jays which may suddenly burst out loudly, boisterously breaking the silence. Such strident music can also be heard in the changing trills of singing White-winged Crossbills or the sharp notes of Red Crossbills, present in some years in response to food availability. The music of winter can be heard in our towns too, in the incessant activity and twitter of a flock of Common Redpolls, or the sweet tunes of Pine Grosbeaks and the trills of Bohemian Waxwings, here to dine on fruit. 

A changing melody and pattern

And then the melody changes. The transition is slow at first, the product of longer days and a warming sun beginning a new rhythm on the landscape — drip, drip, drip. It is the tapping pattern of melting snow and ice. Soon the tune includes the sound of swollen streams and fast-flowing water as the world softens toward spring.

The wintering birds like Black-capped Chickadees and Brown Creepers soon pick up the cadence and add in their spring songs, only to become silent again when winter again reasserts its dominance. But the song of spring will eventually break through, and species like Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds show enough confidence in that fact to migrate north and add their raucous calls to the music, even as the snow still covers the landscape.  

The ice on our lakes begins to recede and the tune is taken up by the whirring wings of migrating ducks. which seem to drop in almost immediately once open water appears as if they knew it was coming. Any species of duck found in the North Country can be found during spring migration, but many of them will not linger for long, meaning we birders must be outside as often as we can be in order to find them. 

The melody of April then becomes the ringing songs of Dark-eyed Juncos and the whistles of White-throated Sparrows. They are joined by a harmony of others – including Fox, Vesper, Chipping, Savannah, and Lincoln’s Sparrows, even as lingering American Tree Sparrows offer their last twinkling notes of the winter before heading north. The cadence is then taken up by the staccato drumming of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, the fluty songs of Hermit Thrushes, and the low pulsing throb of American Bitterns calling from area marshes. 

April is also a great time of year to watch for migrating raptors, and birders can find the music in the high-pitched calls of Broad-winged Hawks or the loud cries of Red-shouldered Hawks. At night the melody is joined by Barred Owls and Northern Saw-whet Owls whose hoots and toots pierce the quiet, and still-cold blackness. 

The music of May and summer

Soon the music is in the colors of newly arrived Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, the warbling songs of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and the complex trills of Winter Wrens. It picks up its pace, growing in strength as it does, and we watch and listen in expectation as the movement builds, and May breaks on our ears with a chorus of White-crowned Sparrows on their way north. The crescendo continues with arriving Black-and-white Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Mourning Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Least Flycatchers, and Bicknell’s Thrushes, as the symphony climaxes in an outburst of song and color. 

Some of these migrants, such as Tennessee and Bay-breasted Warblers, will pass through the region, while others stay to offer us the music throughout the summer. And so June is a tuneful month whether you explore the deciduous forests, the coniferous forests, the mountains, the lakes, or the streams of the region. But as we advance into July, we notice that the birds begin to hush their songs – the music once again becoming more subtle, an interlude before it crescendos again. 

This escalation of sound and activity begins with the chips of recently fledged young birds, and before we know it August has gathered small ensembles of mix-species flocks – diverse collections of birds which infuse life in the forest as they feed incessantly in preparation for their long journey south. Such flocks are an exciting miscellany of birds, and birders can sift through them as if trying to find a hidden prize. It makes August one of the best times of year to bird the Adirondacks. 

The fall performance

But the winds of late summer and early fall add their voices to the annual concert and they take these flocks away, leaving us with a smaller set of musicians such as Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. But they too are soon harmonized by an influx of sparrows, an arrangement set to the backdrop of bright autumn leaves. Once again the skies above send our raptors heading south, and our lakes, which hosted nesting Ring-necked Ducks and Common Loons during the summer, welcome back the tired wings of an assortment of aquatic species, their whistling flights once again adding to the symphonic movement. 

The notes are also played by the flight calls of American Pipits, Snow Buntings, and Pine Siskins, as we find our first Northern Shrike of the season listening to the music from the top of a small tree. The trills of Bohemian Waxwings are added back into the arrangement, as are those of White-winged and Red Crossbills. The sound of the blustery winter wind blows across the landscape, and the snow begins to pile deeper and deeper on the ground, once again muffling the world. But the music is still there — it is just quietly beginning again.

Hiking This is a very easy trail to follow that goes through mud, rocks, and over fallen logs. Cycling This is a great section of...
Hunt Club Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking This trail opens into some wide, flat, plain areas covered in scrub brush. Location: The trailhead is a 13-mile drive in...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Paddling Cedar River Flow is an excellent, secluded spot for wilderness paddling. Moose River flows into the area and is restrained...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking From the trailhead, hike along an old woods road and cross a bridge over a muddy pond area. The trail gently climbs past...
Route 28
Inlet
13360
Hiking The Old Dam Nature Trail loop, located near Limekiln Lake campsite #98 on the back side of the leach field, is an easy 1.3...
Limekiln Lake Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking Moss Lake is a wonderful spot and a short carry for a canoe from the parking area. The trailhead is large and doubles as a...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Upper Sargent Pond is a great, short family hike to a wild pond setting. The route is well marked with snowmobile and hiking trail...
North Point Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking Blue Mountain is one of the taller mountains in the Adirondack Park and one of the most popular in the Hamilton County...
Route 30
Blue Mountain Lake
12812
Beaver Brook Bog is a birding area located off Uncas Road, near the village of Raquette Lake. The trail is on the right when...
Uncas Road
Raquette Lake
13436
Hiking Hey, don't be afraid of the name, but intrigued. Unsure how this beautiful piece of artwork got it scary name, it does not...
Route 28
Raquette Lake
13436
Hiking It's an easy half-mile climb to Rocky Mountain's summit. The sunset and sunrise views from here can be spectacular. It's no...
Route 28
Eagle Bay
13331
Wakely Mountain is located in one of the more remote sections of the central Adirondacks. The hike consists of two sections. The...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking From Inlet, travel south on Route 28 for 6.2 miles, then turn right onto Rondaxe Road. Travel just over 0.1 mile to the...
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking The trail starts out following the course of Big Moose Road and quickly comes to the old trail, which started slightly...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking This trail has easy, rolling terrain and is a great place for the whole family. The path is on an old roadbed that ends at...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Hiking Trailhead From the intersection of Route 8 and Route 10 in Piseco, follow Route 8 toward Lake Pleasant. Continue for just...
Route 8
Lake Pleasant
12108
Hiking The Pathway is a 1-1/2 mile long boardwalk & path, which provides a unique opportunity by making wetlands, transitional...
Rte 30
Speculator
12164
Cedar River Flow is tucked in the mountains far from the main road. Several sites are by the outlet dam. About 40 miles of seasonal...
Cedar River Road
Inlet
13360
Please Note Due to construction of two comfort stations, this facility will close on Labor Day for the rest of the 2019 Camping...
Route 28
Inlet
13360
The summit of Black Bear has several viewing areas to spread out amongst the crowds of people who frequent this peak. If you wish...
Inlet
13360
Hiking This small cascading waterfall is formed from a small stream that begins at the outlet of Buckhorn Lake. The hike in to the...
Route 8
Arietta
‎12139
Lake Lila can get quite rough, so use extreme caution on windy days. There is a nesting pair of Osprey on the lake shore and Common...
Access to these ponds can be made quickly from Route 28 just outside of Eagle Bay. Several campsites along the shore offer the...
Inlet
13360
The trail into to the bog is only 0.3 mile, one way. Watch for boreal birds along the trail. Listen for Woodpeckers and check each...
Inlet
13360
The trail starts out following the course of Big Moose Road and quickly comes to the old trail, which started slightly further back...
This is an easy ride that passes Upper and Lower ponds, with a final destination of Sucker Brook Bay on Raquette Lake. There is a...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
The trail to Third Lake Creek is a seldom-used path that may be tough going after the first 2 miles, but the winding creek along...
South Shore Road
Inlet
13360
Turn right off the road from Sagamore and there will be a gate that can be ridden around on the left. Follow this rocky road for a...
The trail is flat and easy and only 0.75 mile long. It winds through a beech forest and opens up on to a small mountain lake. This...
Parkhurst Road
Inlet
13360
Located on the south side of Route 28, the Green Bridge and Lock and Dam picnic area offers about 20 nice fishing locations for...
43.694550
Inlet
13360
The trail to Lower Sargent Pond is marked with both snowmobile and hiking trail markers. It goes primarily through hardwood stands...
North Lake Road
Long Lake
12847
This is a great place for the whole family with easy, rolling terrain. The trail is an old road that ends at Beaver Lake in 2.1...
Inlet
13360
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest is part of the 80,000 acre Moose River Plains Complex, a collection of public lands crossed by ...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
Note: This hike requires a good trail map, which is a must when hiking in such remote locations. Leave word about your trip plans...
Otter Brook Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking The trail around Moss Lake traverses gently rolling double track hills for mountain bikes and also provides an easy hike....
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
Known as the Great Eight Lakes, this trail is easy to intermediate and is only 3 miles to Queer Lake, then 2.3 miles to Chain Ponds...
Big Moose Road
Inlet
13360
This trail is located in the Great Eight Lakes area. It is an easy to moderate, 1.2-mile hike to Windfall Pond. If you choose to...
Big Moose Road
Eagle Bay
13331
A 5.9-mile hike to a lake that's great for fishing for native brook trout and for primitive lean-to camping along the shore. Back...
Inlet
13360
These trails are mostly easy and flat with some small rolling hills and a few steep climbs. There is easy access directly from Old...
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
This easy, family-oriented trail is great for beginners in hiking and mountain biking. The trail begins on a wide snowmobile trail...
Big Moose Road
Eagle Bay
13331
The Miami River, accessed from the south end of Lewey Lake, flows through the backcountry and is home to wild brook trout. The...
Speculator
12164
The parking area is a small gravel pull off along Route 28 about 2.4 miles southwest of Raquette Lake. The right path leads to the...
Route 28
43.8087341
Inlet
13360
This trail starts on North Rondaxe Road as a beginner trail, then turns to intermediate past Stafford Pond. The trip connects Big...
North Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
Hiking This relatively easy walk passes through several fields, a wetland/marsh area and mixed hardwoods, ending beneath stands of...
Route 30
Wells
12190
The Seventh Lake Mountain Community Connector encompasses 14.3 miles of intermediate and expert mountain biking trail. It was built...
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
These two ponds are located on a foot trail that's off the right side of Rondaxe Road across from the trail to Bald Mountain....
Rondaxe Road
Inlet
13360
This is a 7.6-mile hike along the Otter Brook Basin on an old Jeep road. The mountain to the right is Kitty Cobble. The view across...
Otter Brook Road
Inlet
13360
Enter through the Brown Tract Pond campground. Since there is direct access to the pond, this is a great place to wet a line, swim...
Inlet
13360
An 8.1-mile trip into Big West Lake and to the fireplace left behind by Louie Seymour is a benchmark in the hikes of anyone...
Otter Brook Road
Inlet
13360
This is a two-mile, flat-water paddle to an old dam that generated the power for the Great Camp Sagamore complex years ago. The...
Raquette Lake
13436
Philadelphia Vireos have been seen feeding young in the second-growth hardwoods bordering the road from Blackbridge to Whitehouse....
Wells
12190
On the Flow, paddlers should see Common Loon, Mallard, Hooded and Common Mergansers, Osprey, Herring Gull, and-both of them noisy...
Indian Lake
12842
From Route 28, turn north onto Raquette Lake Road (County Road 2) and drive 0.7 mile, passing through the hamlet of Raquette Lake....
Raquette Lake
13436
Lows Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the Adirondacks. It has the second largest Common Loon population of any single lake in...
Long Lake
12847
The trailhead to the north section is on the northeast side of the Tarbell Hill Road, approximately 0.6 mile from Route 28N. For...
Long Lake
12847
Look for a small open bog mat with scattered, stunted spruces on the north side of Circle Road. Many interesting northern birds can...
Long Lake
12847
This is a flat water paddle following the Sacandaga River for 1.5 miles to Kunjamuk Bay, where the Kunjamuk River enters the...
Speculator
12164
The old railroad track starts across the road from the Browns Tract beach access on Uncas Road. There are two options from this...
Uncas Road
Inlet
13360
A rich variety of northern birds can be found in this fifty-thousand-acre forest. Habitat changes from open plains, boreal forest...
Indian Lake
12842
This trail starts with a scenic drive through a hardwood forest offering many bird-watching opportunities. After the short drive, a...
Piseco
12139
Access to Red River is located 5 miles into the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, off of Limekiln Road. This slow moving, "perfect...
Inlet
13360
Along the Perkins Clearing Road, listen for the rich chirry, chirry, chorry, chorry song of the Mourning Warblers emanating from...
Lake Pleasant
12108
This relatively easy 1.3-mile walk (round trip) to Rock Lake proceeds through a mixed hardwood/conifer forest. The hike ends at a...
Indian Lake
12842
This trail is a nice, tight single track on fairly level terrain that goes past a couple of lean-tos. The trail runs right along...
Seventh Lake Road
Inlet
13360
This dirt road is lightly-traveled and can be walked and birded along its entire length for a wide variety of birds including Olive...
Arietta
‎12139
This 10-mile (1-way) road trip will bisect a variety of bird habitats and offers diverse bird watching opportunities. Habitats...
Sabattis
12847
This “pull off and fish by the roadside” pond has been the favorite for parents teaching their children to fish, and it also yields...
South Shore Road
Inlet
13360
Route 10 is a good place to bird and a favorite during the winter when there is a Crossbill invasion. The West Branch of the...
Arietta
‎12139

Whites Pond

Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Inlet
13360
(800) 648-5239

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