Birding in Lake Placid
Many of us begin to think about winter during the fall. We break out our warm clothes. We begin to transition our gear for the equipment of winter activities. We go to ski swaps. And many of us watch the changes using the avian calendar as birds move in their yearly cycles on their way south. Waterfowl like Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and Bufflehead which have been tucked in along our lakes during the fall begin to get forced out by the advancing ice. But don’t let that stop you in your search for ducks, grebes, loons, and gulls. Plan a short day trip and head to the neighboring Lake Champlain Region where many of them can be found throughout the winter.
The Adirondack Coast is also great for songbirds and raptors during the winter after they have largely left the Olympic Region in search of an easier way to make a living at lower elevations. And so late fall is often characterized by many of these species moving through our region. These include birds like American Pipits, Snow Buntings, and American Tree Sparrows – some of which stick around all winter. And predators may include Cooper’s Hawks trying to pick off unvigilant birds at bird feeders or Northern Shrikes hanging out on hedgerows in places like John Brown’s Farm.
Fill the feeders
And while some of these species can be attracted by bird feeders and the activity they bring, it is often the finches like American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, and Pine Siskin that keep us filling our feeders on a regular basis. Filling feeders is particularly important if they attract Evening Grosbeaks – a species well-known to empty a feeder’s contents quickly and a bird which moved through the area in small numbers a few weeks ago. Perhaps more will arrive as winter deepens.
This year also has potential to be good for Common Redpolls so you should fill your feeders and pick through the flocks of Common Redpolls for a Hoary in their midst. Perhaps most exciting, reports of Pine Grosbeaks moving south have come from various places in the northeast so keep your eyes open for this irruptive species – usually found feeding in fruit trees. Small numbers of Bohemian Waxwings have already been found in our area doing the same thing. Other irruptive species – like Red and White-winged Crossbills – can also be spotted during the winter – but they are usually found in coniferous habitats such as those along Averyville Road or near the canoe access for the Chubb River.
Such places are also good for resident boreal birds – like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Gray Jay – which can still be found near the Chubb even though the frozen river precludes the possibility of canoeing. Better yet, you should head a short distance north of Saranac Lake to Bloomingdale Bog and Bigelow Road. There you can top off a winter day beneath a cobalt sky while feeding Gray Jays and watching Boreal Chickadees in their sharp plumage after their fall molt.