Birding in the Saranac Lake Area
The Changes of Early Spring

An Amazing Diversity

Some of those trips will take you to area marshes and wetlands (perhaps at the Paul Smith’s College VIC) where the likes of American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Ring-necked Duck, Alder Flycatcher, Tree Swallow, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Snipe, Wood Duck, and Swamp Sparrow can be found. Other trips will venture into deciduous woodlands for Eastern Wood-Pewee, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Philadelphia Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Veery, Black-billed Cuckoo, Winter Wren, Ovenbird, American Redstart, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler – the latter five just a quarter of the 20 species of warblers which nest in the Olympic Region alone. 

This list of warblers also includes species like Northern Waterthrush and Canada Warbler found in wetland thickets and beaver ponds, as well as Magnolia and Nashville Warblers which prefer coniferous habitats. Many of the best coniferous habitats also offer you a chance to find the sought-after boreal species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Boreal Chickadee, and even Spruce Grouse, a species for which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is undertaking a reintroduction program. As such, you should plan time in places like Bloomingdale Bog and Bigelow Road, Madawaska and Blue Mountain Road, and along the Osgood River if you want to find these boreal birds. 

A few of these birds – such as Boreal Chickadee and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – can be found in the montane coniferous forests on the tops of the mountains in the region (including the highest of the Saranac Lake 6ers). The bird communities in such high elevation habitats also include Swainson’s Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Winter Wren, Dark-eyed Junco, and of course, Bicknell’s Thrush. Like most of our breeding birds, the thrushes are here to nest before heading back south and so you only have a window of a few months to find them. 

Fantastic Late Summer Birding!

Because before any of us are ready, the long days of summer begin to shorten and the wind whispers that it is time to prepare to journey south. After all, fall migration begins in late summer and it is often first noted along the spine of Lake Champlain when shorebirds begin to fly south from the arctic - interested birders should check out that website to learn more. 

In the Adirondacks the start of migration is more subtle, starting with a drop-off in song during July and building into mixed species flocks which you can scour for a wide assortment of species including many warblers. These not only include any and all of our local breeders, but also species like Tennessee, Wilson’s, Bay-breasted, and Cape May Warblers which push north of the region to nest. Such mixed-species flocks can show up anywhere and it means that late summer and early fall present one of the most exciting times of year to look for birds all across the Adirondacks and North Country.

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