Birding in Lake Placid

An Amazing Time of Year

Few things can rival the transformation of fall upon the landscape in the Olympic Region and North Country. Warm days give way to cool nights. Leaves across the region turn from green to gold, yellow, red, orange, and brown. And birds everywhere are on the move.

Fall Shorebirds and Songbirds

Fall for birds begins in the mid-late summer. They molt from their fancy spring plumage. They disperse in mixed-species flocks. And they begin to migrate. Some, like shorebirds, head south early and grace any mudflat, sandy island or lake edge as they pass through the region. Anyone interested in looking for shorebirds will do well to check out Lake Champlain where the migration is most easily observed.

Here in the Olympic Region, late summer and early fall flocks of songbirds are more obvious, and a morning or evening walk can find a wide assortment of species as a result. These flocks may include species like Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue-headed, Warbling, Red-eyed, and Philadelphia Vireos, Black-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Thrushes, Warblers, and Sparrows

The flocks may also include a variety of thrush species – which can also be heard migrating overhead at night. These include Wood Thrush, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Bicknell’s Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Hermit Thrush – the last of the thrushes to linger in the region. And while the diversity of thrushes and other songbirds is impressive, the warblers usually steal most of the headlines. Any species which breeds or passes through the Adirondacks can be found during the fall:

  • Pine Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Northern Parula
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Ovenbird
  • Palm Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Cape May Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Bay-breasted Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler

As fall officially arrives in late September, most of these birds have left the area with some lingering individuals remaining with fall flocks of Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Black-capped Chickadees. And birders should not forget that the fall can be excellent for finding our resident boreal species like Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Boreal Chickadee. Sparrows of a variety of species begin to arrive on the scene, and soon birders can find Fox, White-throated, White-crowned, Song, Swamp, Savannah, Vesper, Chipping, Field, and Dark-eyed Junco.

Late Fall Birds

Raptors are also on the move – racing on cold fronts on their way south - and birders will need to keep an eye on the sky above them as they work the hedgerows and bushes which hide so many of the songbirds. In this way birders can spot the likes of Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Northern Harrier. And as cold October winds from the north bring raptors, birders can also listen for the flight calls of American Pipits, Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and Pine Siskins.

Soon the cold fronts have pushed down waterfowl and other aquatic species and places like Mirror Lake may host a flock of scoters or Brant for a day or perhaps for only a few hours. In fact, a long list of species can be found on area lakes, and birders can spot scoters, Pied-billed Grebes, Horned Grebes, Red-necked Grebes, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Ducks, and both species of scaup. Many of these species will remain in the area so long as there is open water, and as the lakes freeze across the region, they will either move south or over to Lake Champlain where they may spend the entire winter. For as our Common Loons and other aquatic species vacate the local lakes, they bring us to the holidays and the New Year, marked with Christmas bird counts and the potential for other northern species like Northern Shrike, Common Redpoll, and Bohemian Waxwing.

And so the dark and sometimes gloomy start to winter is marked by exciting birding and plenty of reasons to be outside exploring.

Plan your outdoor adventure today by checking out our lodging and dining pages!

Wilmington Notch
Location: Route 86, Wilmington, New York
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Whiteface Mountain No Hike Birding
Location: Route 86, Wilmington, New York
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Intervale Lowlands Nature Preserve
Location: Intervale Way, Lake Placid, New York
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Silver Lake Bog and Bluffs
Location: Old Hawkeye Road, Wilmington, New York
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South Meadow, brooks
Location: Meadow Lane, Lake Placid, New York
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Jackrabbit Trail
Location: Parkside Dr, Lake Placid, New York
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Saint Regis Mountain Area
Location: Keese Mill Road, Paul Smiths, New York
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Bloomingdale Bog Trail
Location: Route 55, Saranac Lake, New York
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Osgood River
Location: White Pine Road, Paul Smiths, New York
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Brandy Pond
Location: Route 30, Saranac Lake, New York
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Fowler's Crossing Trail Network
Location: Route 86, Saranac Lake, New York
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Jones Pond
Location: Jones Pond Road, Paul Smiths, New York
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Echo Pond with bog
Location: Route 30, Saranac Lake, New York
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