Birds of a feather

Saranac Lake is home to a wide variety of year-round bird species and during migration there is an exciting birding atmosphere. All this makes for great birding in any season! Whether you’re looking for boreal species, winter finches, or migrating waterfowl, you’ll be sure to find your target species here!

A brown and white Osprey soaring with its wings spread.

Diverse birds, diverse habitat

Have you ever seen a Black-backed Woodpecker? Or heard the bizarre call of an American Bittern? Or watched a Bald Eagle soar over a remote waterbody? Saranac Lake has all that, and more! The Paul Smith’s College VIC is one place birders can visit where a wide variety of bird species can be found. Here, boreal forests, northern hardwoods, peatland bogs, swamps, marshes, and ponds all form a diverse tapestry of habitats. You’ll be able to find bird species from Hermit Thrushes to Northern Saw-whet Owls to Osprey. And the warblers are everywhere in the spring! Palm Warblers really light up the peatland bogs with their bright yellow feathers and equally colorful songs.

Another favorite birding location is the Bloomingdale Bog. This is a known haunt for the friendly Canada Jay. Other boreal species, like Boreal Chickadees, can be found along Oregon Plains and Bigelow roads. If you’re in such locations in winter, you can also search for Red and White-winged Crossbills if it is a good year for finding them, and you will no doubt find some of the other hardy wintering species – like Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Black-capped Chickadee, and perhaps stumble across a Ruffed Grouse as well. 

It’s not all boreal habitat in Saranac Lake. Places like the pond at the Saranac Lake High School and the shoreline around Lake Colby usually offer up such species as Osprey, Great Blue Herons, migrating shorebirds, and many species of waterfowl. Even a trip around town, stopping to look at ornamental trees, can be productive: in winter, you might see Pine Grosbeaks snacking on fruits! Don't forget about the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, too, hammering away in the forests.

A brown Cedar Waxwing with a black face mask leans to the side.

Roll with the changes 

In winter, it’s not uncommon to find Common Redpolls or Evening Grosbeaks at feeders. As we progress into spring, species diversity greatly increases and birding becomes especially exciting as migrants pass through the area and nesting birds return to breed. Buffleheads can be found on many lakes, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers return to take up residence in the bogs and marshes as we move toward summer, and warblers like Yellow-rumped Warblers and Northern Parulas sing all day long in many forests. Spring evenings are often marked by the hoots of Barred Owls and peents of American Woodcocks. 

Summer is a time of plenty. Plenty of sunlight. Plenty of songs. Plenty of birds. Plenty of places open to explore. While the breeding species will stay for a few months, their exuberance of song is already quieting by the second week of July. Birders coming later in the summer will still find birds – but they may not be advertising themselves as conspicuously as a result. 

The transition into fall marks the beginning of a quieter time, but, still, there are birds to be found. The Song and White-crowned Sparrows of summer are replaced by Pine Siskins and Snow Buntings and, as the seasonal winds change directions, Commons Loons can gather in large groups on our lakes, preparing for their wintering grounds south of here.

Birding is an ever-changing adventure; you never know who or what you’re going to see! So get your binoculars and spotting scopes and head to Saranac Lake today!

Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK Pledge

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:

You can pledge to Love Your ADK or find more information at www.LoveYourADK.org.

Saranac Lake, NY 12983

A nature trail around this small pond at the High School is a very productive place to go birding! Spring is especially exciting with migratory shorelines making an appearance and as the season progresses, songbirds fill the trees.

Keese Mills Road
Paul Smiths, NY 12970

A combination of paved and dirt roads creates a difficulty level of beginner for cycling. The scenery is wonderful and the birding is excellent! 

Some of the ponds have remains of early dams.
John Munn Road
Saranac Lake, NY 12983

A fun little hike along the railroad tracks that separate Lake Colby from Little Colby Pond.

Route 86
Saranac Lake, NY 12983

An abandoned railroad right-of-way provides easy access to a scenic bog - full of birds, conifers and unique plants - with distant views of surrounding mountains. Pine forests surround the northern portion of the route. Intersections with roads...

Corey's Road
Tupper Lake, NY 12986

Raquette Falls is much more popular as a ski trail, but it does get a bit of use during non-snow months. From the trailhead you will enter the woods on a wide trail which continues all the way through to the DEC outpost. The trail flows over...