Birding in Lake Placid

Springtime means bird time!

As the snow melts, many visitors stay away from Lake Placid and the Tri-Lakes Region, preferring to explore the area in the snow or during the height of summer. If birders follow this example they will miss the amazing time of year that is spring, which begins in the bird world in late winter. As the snow melts and the edges of lakes become ice free, local birders often notice the first signs of spring in their yards as song sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, and common grackles visit bird feeders. Meanwhile, American robins exploit any open patch of ground while eastern bluebirds may be seen along the edges of local fields. 

Flock to the water

The other major change during the early spring occurs on Adirondack lakes, on which the ice is melted by sun and pushed apart by wind to create large openings that are soon used by a variety of waterfowl species. If interested in seeing waterfowl, birders should check out the Champlain Valley where thousands of ducks migrate along the north-south corridor of the lake each spring. They should also check out the website for the Champlain Region to learn more. After all, waterfowl aren’t the only draw for birders to the lake valley, as they can also find a wide variety of migrating raptors there. 

Some of these raptors will migrate through the Lake Placid area too, with a number of them staying to breed. This means early spring is marked by flyby sharp-shinned and cooper’s hawks, and by the incessant trilling of merlins setting up their nests in white pines along Adirondack lakes. Owls too begin breeding, with great horned owls well along the nesting process (they begin nesting during the winter), and barred and northern saw-whet owls becoming more vocal in April as they set up territories and look for mates. 

Flock to the forest

While birders will need to make a special effort to listen for hooting and tooting owls at night, they won’t easily miss the singing of dark-eyed juncos, brown creepers, and white-throated sparrows during the day. These birds are soon joined by a growing diversity of other species, starting with eastern phoebe, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and ruby-crowned kinglet. Soon an array of sparrows moves into and through the region – including savannah, swamp, Lincoln’s, vesper, chipping, and fox. As the calendar turns to May, white-crowned sparrows dominate the family representation in the area as the referee-striped sparrows descend upon the region for about a week at the beginning of the month. 

This is the same time of year that ruby-throated hummingbirds begin to arrive – first the males and then the females. And while yellow-rumped warblers are already showing up in the neighborhood, the main surge of warblers is only just beginning. With 20 species of warblers nesting in the Lake Placid area and still more migrating through, there is a kaleidoscope of color and pattern for birders to see. These species include:

  • yellow-rumped warbler
  • yellow warbler
  • Wilson’s warbler
  • Tennessee warbler
  • pine warbler
  • palm warbler
  • ovenbird
  • northern waterthrush
  • northern parula
  • Nashville warbler
  • mourning warbler
  • magnolia warbler
  • common yellowthroat
  • chestnut-sided warbler
  • Cape May warbler
  • Canada warbler
  • black-throated green warbler
  • black-throated blue warbler
  • blackpoll warbler
  • blackburnian warbler
  • black and white warbler
  • bay-breasted warbler
  • American redstart

It is incredible to see such diversity!

Even though warblers steal much of the press, May also brings with it a slew of tanagers, grosbeaks, swallows, flycatchers, vireos, and thrushes. And so birders can search for black-billed cuckoos, yellow-bellied and olive-sided flycatchers, American bitterns,  Philadelphia vireos, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and Swainson’s and Bicknell’s thrushes all in the Lake Placid and Tri-Lakes area. And no one coming here for migrants should forget that the resident boreal species like gray jay, boreal chickadee, and black-backed woodpecker inhabit some splendid bogs and boreal habitats nearby! Finally, as June begins, birders can also check out the Great Adirondack Birding Festival at the Paul Smith’s College VIC, which takes folks on birding trips all over the region. It is a great way to celebrate spring as summer begins!

Plan your next migration to Lake Placid today!

Check out the High Peaks hiking trails and reserve a nest that suits your needs. Choose from a variety of Lake Placid hotels, motels, resorts, inns and B & B's and book a reservation today! Below you'll find a listing of great birding areas in the region.

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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Wilmington Notch
Location: Route 86, Wilmington, New York
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Echo Pond with bog
Location: Route 30, Saranac Lake, New York
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Whiteface Mountain No Hike Birding
Location: Route 86, Wilmington, New York
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Brandy Pond
Location: Route 30, Saranac Lake, 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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Jackrabbit Trail
Location: Parkside Dr, Lake Placid, New York
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South Meadow, brooks
Location: Meadow Lane, 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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