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Top 20 Spots for Birdwatching in the U.S.

Robin. Image by JillWellington via Pixabay

Birdwatching is a rewarding and fascinating hobby, offering enthusiasts the chance to witness some of the rarest and most beautiful birds in their natural habitats.

The United States, with its diverse ecosystems, is home to numerous prime birdwatching locations. Here are some of the top spots for rare bird sightings across the country.

1. Cape May, New Jersey

Red knot
Red knot bird in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cape May is renowned for its impressive bird migration events, particularly in the fall. This coastal hotspot is a haven for birdwatchers looking to spot rare species such as the Black Skimmer, Piping Plover, and various warblers.

2. Central Park, New York City, New York

Western blue bird
Male bluebird (Sialia mexicana) in close-up. Image via Blalonde, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite being in the heart of one of the world’s largest cities, Central Park is a vital stopover for migratory birds. Birdwatchers can spot rare species like the Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Wood Thrush.

3. Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Common pheasant on grass
Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) male, Nr Compton, Hampshire. Image via Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Point Reyes offers diverse habitats ranging from coastal cliffs to forests, attracting a variety of rare birds. Key species include the Northern Spotted Owl, Marbled Murrelet, and the elusive California Condor.

4. Everglades National Park, Florida

Wood duck
Wood Duck at Weltvogelpark Walsrode (Walsrode Bird Park, Germany). Image via Olaf Oliviero Riemer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Everglades is a unique ecosystem home to many rare and endangered birds. Birdwatchers can encounter the Roseate Spoonbill, Snail Kite, and the endangered Wood Stork.

5. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Rufous Tailed Hummingbird
Rufous Tailed Hummingbird hovering close to a birdfeeder. Image by bberry via

This refuge is famous for its large populations of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. Rare sightings include the Ross’s Goose, Vermilion Flycatcher, and the occasional Whooping Crane.

6. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ohio

The snail kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis, is a bird of prey within the family Accipitridae with slender beak, red eyes and dark blue gray plumage. Along the Transpantaneira to Porto Jofre, Brazil

Located along Lake Erie, Magee Marsh is a top spot during spring migration. Birdwatchers flock here to see warblers, including the rare Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as other species like the American Woodcock and Bald Eagle.

bee hummingbird
Bee hummingbird. Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania

Mountain Bluebird. Image via depositphotos.

Hawk Mountain is a premier destination for observing raptor migrations. Visitors can spot rare birds of prey such as the Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and various species of hawks and eagles.

8. Southeastern Arizona

Brown snake eagle, Circaetus cinereus, brown and black bird of prey in the nature habitat, sitting on the branch, Kruger NP, South Africa. Wildlife scene from nature.
Image via depositphotos.

Southeastern Arizona is a birdwatching paradise, known for its variety of hummingbirds and other rare species. Key locations include the Santa Rita Mountains and the San Pedro River, where one can see the Elegant Trogon, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, and Red-faced Warbler.

9. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Western Bluebird are shiny blue above with rust-orange extending from a vest on the breast onto the upper back. Image via depositphotos.

Yellowstone offers unique birdwatching opportunities, with species such as the Trumpeter Swan, Great Gray Owl, and Harlequin Duck. The park’s diverse habitats support a wide range of rare and elusive birds.

10. Alaska’s Pribilof Islands

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird.

Image by Patrice Bouchard via Unsplash

The remote Pribilof Islands are a dream destination for birdwatchers. These islands are home to millions of seabirds, including rare species like the Red-legged Kittiwake, Horned Puffin, and the Northern Fulmar.

11. Salton Sea, California

Ruby-throated hummingbird in the garden Image by bolina via depositphotos

The Salton Sea is an important stopover for migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway. Birdwatchers can spot rare species such as the Yellow-footed Gull, American Avocet, and Black-necked Stilt.

12. High Island, Texas

Cuban Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)
Cuban Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) Image by SURZet via Depositphotos

High Island is a critical stopover for migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Rare sightings include the Cerulean Warbler, Painted Bunting, and various species of shorebirds and raptors.

13. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

Male Annas Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in flight with a green background.
Image via depositphotos.

This national park’s diverse habitats support a variety of rare birds, including the Swainson’s Warbler, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

14. Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, California

Magpie, Pica pica, single bird in flight. Image via Deposit Photos

This restored wetland is a hotspot for rare and migratory birds. Birdwatchers can see the Western Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, and a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.

15. Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Hummingbird with pink bloom in forest habitat. Green Violet-ear, Colibri thalassinus, flying in the nature tropical wood habitat, red flower, Tapanti NP, Costa Rica. Wildlife scene from jungle. Image via Depositphotos

Padre Island is a key site for bird migration along the Gulf Coast. Rare species such as the Piping Plover, Reddish Egret, and various migratory shorebirds can be observed here.

16. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

ruby throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Image by Cavan via

This refuge is a vital habitat for many rare seabirds. Visitors can spot the Hawaiian Goose (Nene), Red-footed Booby, and Laysan Albatross.

17. Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah

Mocking bird
Mockingbird, Humber Bay Park (West), Toronto, Canada. Image via Mdf, edited by Fir0002, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located along the Great Salt Lake, this refuge is a haven for waterfowl and shorebirds. Rare sightings include the American White Pelican, Black-necked Stilt, and the elusive Snowy Plover.

18. Adirondack Park, New York

Red wing black bird in his area
Territorial red winged black bird. Image via Mathieu Landretti, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adirondack Park offers pristine habitats for a variety of rare birds. Birdwatchers can see the Bicknell’s Thrush, Spruce Grouse, and the Black-backed Woodpecker.

19. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, New York

Black drongo or Dicrurus macrocercus is a black bird which is sitting on a branch with nice blur background.
Image via depositphotos.

This refuge is a crucial stopover for migratory birds in the Atlantic Flyway. Rare sightings include the Black Tern, Least Bittern, and the Prothonotary Warbler.

20. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

A male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at the bird viewing blind in Abilene State Park, Texas. Image via Larry D. Moore, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Anahuac is a key site for bird migration along the Texas coast. Rare species such as the Yellow Rail, Clapper Rail, and the occasional Whooping Crane can be observed here.

By visiting these top birdwatching spots, enthusiasts have the opportunity to witness some of the rarest and most captivating bird species in the United States. Whether you’re an experienced birder or a novice, these locations offer incredible experiences and sightings that will enhance your appreciation for the avian world.

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