5 bird-Watching hotspots across the United States
By Kate Silver
Grab the binoculars, because any season is prime time for bird-watching, especially if you have a car like the Chevrolet Spark that’s all about serendipitous fun and comes in hues to match any plumage.
North America is home to more than 900 species of birds, from majestic bald eagles to mystical songsters. And bird-watching is an activity that just about anyone can do, whether you’re a novice or an expert. So head out to one of these five fabulous destinations. But as you pack up your Spark, heed our warning: The mini car is so bright and colorful, some of the birds might just think it’s one of their flock.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Take a stroll along a raised boardwalk through the Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a 13,000-acre birding bonanza known as “the gateway to the western Everglades.” Feast your eyes on more than 200 species of birds, including wood storks, blue-gray gnatcatchers and black-bellied whistling ducks. This is a great starting point for exploring Florida’s Great Birding Trail, a 2,000-mile stretch that connects more than 500 bird- and wildlife-viewing areas throughout the state.
Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail
More and more birders are driving to Alabama to take advantage of some of the most diverse bird-watching terrain in the southeastern United States. In spring 2012, the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail opened, connecting nine counties, covering more than 4 million acres and encompassing gorgeous historic bridges, rocky ridges, ponds and forests. Bird enthusiasts can expect to see more than 400 species, including wild turkeys, pine warblers, raptors and great crested flycatchers.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
The endangered Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping crane is the last family of wild whooping cranes, and it winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Austwell, Texas. This storied bird is the tallest of its kind in North America, and one of the rarest. In 1941, the population of whooping cranes was only 15. Thanks to the work of conservationists, there are now more than 200 at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in the winter (October to mid-April), after which they travel to Canada for the spring and summer. In addition to the whooping crane, nearly 400 other species of birds populate this 59,000-acre preserve.
The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
With forests, marshes and grasslands, it’s no wonder the Klamath Basin Refuge in Tulelake, California, is a magnet for 400 species. It also happens to be one of the best places in the country for spotting bald eagles, particularly during the winter months, when nearly 500 eagles make the area their home. They’re not alone. Nearly 1 million migratory birds make this preserve a seasonal stopover every year.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
The Audubon Society of Portland referred to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as “one of the premiere sites for birds and birding in the U.S.” Nesting on the Pacific Flyway (that’s the name for the migratory bird highway that stretches from Alaska to South America), the area hosts more than 300 species of birds. Marsh birds and shore birds, in particular, are drawn to the rivers, lakes and salt sea in this 187,000-acre federal preserve.
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Kate Silver is an award-winning journalist and editor based in Chicago. Her work appears regularly in Spirit Magazine, Men’s Health, the Chicago Tribune and Midwest Living, as well as on Parents.com.