8 Great Summer Birding Trails
Audubon's guide to unforgettable trips that wend through charming towns and rural outposts while also connecting the dots between many Important Bird Areas.
Maine Birding Trail
From waves lapping a rocky coastline to magnificent evergreen forests, Maine is a nature lover's perfect getaway. Within these varied landscapes, there are sites for spectacular summer birding scattered all over the state--if you know where to look. The Maine Birding Trail is divided into eight regional sections. Explore the coastal segments to see common eiders, black guillemots, and offshore islands spotted with Atlantic puffins and Arctic terns. On forest trails, Blackburnian warblers sing and spruce grouse lurk in the shadows. In secluded bogs, olive-sided flycatchers perch like sentinels on the highest snags. Special tours and festivals feature some of the trail's highlights and the chance to compare notes with fellow travelers. More information: mainebirdingtrail.com
North Carolina Birding Trail
From a birder's standpoint, North Carolina is not one state but three. In the mountainous western corner, in the upper Appalachians, you'll find birds typical of more northern regions in summer, such as ruffed grouse, Canada warblers, and black-throated blue warblers. Forests in the Piedmont's flat plateau are alive with birdsongs from Acadian flycatchers, summer tanagers, yellow-throated vireos, and wood thrush. In the eastern section, great salt marshes along the bays support rails and herons, while Outer Banks beaches provide nesting sites for American oystercatchers and Wilson's plovers. More information: ncbirdingtrail.org for three sectional guides that highlight more than 300 sites across the state, including many Important Bird Areas.
Pine to Prairie Birding Trail
In northwestern Minnesota, where the great eastern forest converges with the Great Plains, a dazzling variety of birds nest this time of year. On the open prairies, upland sandpipers and chestnut-collared longspurs flutter over the grass, singing their flight songs. In the deciduous forest, just east of the prairies, mornings ring with calls from pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, and rose-breasted grosbeaks. The evergreen forest harbors an avian melange that includes northern goshawks and boreal chickadees. Common loons wail from every lake at night. More than 20 warbler species nest in the region, among them such sought-after beauties as the golden-winged warbler and the Connecticut warbler. More information: mnbirdtrail.com
Far West Texas Wildlife Trail
West Texas's wide vistas hold endless surprises for the summer visitor. Stretches of open desert might seem barren when you see them for the first time, but explore a little further and you'll cross paths with greater roadrunners, pyrrhuloxias, and a host of other birds thriving in these arid lands. This wildlife trail will guide you to hidden oases rich with life--to canyons, streams, and mountains with their own blend of unique birds, including two national parks. In Guadalupe Mountains National Park, there are birds reminiscent of the Rockies, such as broadtailed hummingbirds and western bluebirds. Follow the trail to Big Bend's upper elevations to find the rare Colima warbler. More information: tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wildlife/wildlife-trails/far-west-texas
Colorado Birding Trail