From Olympic sites to High Peaks, Lake Placid is a place of BIG adventures. But have you stopped for a minute to listen to the birds and the sounds of the forest? With miles and miles of trails, and plenty of lakeside locales, birding in the Lake Placid region will surely help you check off some of your “life list.”
Different habitats, different birds
From mountain lakes and ponds to successional meadows to high boreal forests, there are a variety of habitats around Lake Placid that offer different species of birds. Common Loons are a, well, common occurrence on our lakes. Listen for their eerie calls echoing across Mirror Lake (it’s right in town!). Just outside the village, Heaven Hill offers the opportunity to see a wide diversity of birds, including those which make their home in meadowland, successional meadows, and woodland. Keep your eyes and ears open for Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows in warmer months. For the adventurous birders, a hike into the High Peaks Wilderness (or a drive up the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway) has endless possibilities for birding. Keep in mind that this terrain can be rugged and only experienced hikers should venture far into the backcountry to reach the alpine habitat in the High Peaks. But those who do will find that the spruce-fir forests harbor species like Bicknell’s Thrush, Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and, if the year is right, White-winged Crossbill. Also, in the summer, high elevation breeding warblers, like Blackpoll Warblers, are plentiful.
While most of the species listed above only reside in the Lake Placid area for a short while, during the warmer months, some hardy species, like Black-capped Chickadees and Common Raven, call this place home year-round.
As luck would have it, there have also been many rarities in the region reported over the years, including some majestic visitors from the north! Great Gray Owls have been reported around the region occasionally. Be sure to keep a look out along tree lines during winter months.
Winter birding in the Adirondacks is not about long lists of species or loads of diversity; rather, it is more about specialty birds which are difficult to find elsewhere. Cold and snow can set an amazing backdrop to birding, and winter often brings with it some of our most sought-after Adirondack species. These include birds like Evening Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls, which can grace our bird feeders, or Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks, which can be found in town when there are fruit trees still sporting a crop. Spring brings back species like Broad-winged Hawks and Red-winged Blackbirds. Birders may also see Tennessee or Bay-breasted Warblers push through on their way north. In fact, twenty species of warblers nest in the Olympic region alone. As summer rolls on, keep your ears open for the bizarre calls of American Bitterns in marshy areas. As fall approaches, watch lakes and ponds for migrating waterfowl.
Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK
The magic of the Adirondacks is the result of previous generations taking a long view and protecting the mountains, lakes, and rivers within the Blue Line. That tradition continues today as we support and encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace ethics, which help protect the lands and waters of the Adirondacks.