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Birding in the National Parks

Birding In The National Parks: Finding Birds With The National Park Service's Help

Proper preparation often makes the difference between merely seeing some good birds and coming home with a trip list bursting at the seams and a few lifers to boot. It’s easy to enjoy a birding trip without studying your field guides and knowing your geography, but to many birders the prep is half the fun.
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Birding In The National Parks: Looking For Loons

With spring migration over and fall shorebird migration a couple weeks away, this is the lazy part of the birding year. It’s time to float placidly on a northern lake and listen to the loons. Everyone from Henry David Thoreau to Aldo Leopold has tried to describe the song of the loon, all failing miserably compared to the experience of actually hearing it on a foggy dawn.
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Birding In The National Parks: Great Parking Lot Shots!

As a birder and naturalist, I have a love/hate relationship with roads and parking lots in national parks. On the one hand, it’s not difficult to agree with Ed Abbey that all pavement is the opposite of progress. Roads kill things outright and bring more tourists, a certain percentage of which will be destructive in their own way. Then I stop and think about the best birding spots I’ve found in the parks – and a majority of them of were either in a parking lot or within sight of some kind of pavement.
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Birding In The National Parks: Plan Now To Attend Hawai'i Island Birding Festival

I usually quit dreaming of tropical birding trips once May arrives. The onslaught of warblers, tanagers, and flycatchers makes my regular haunts on the Great Lakes the envy of the birders who actually are in the tropics. Still, when I hear the words Hawai’i, birds, and festival in one sentence, I stop to listen.
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Birding In The National Parks: An Early Spring Cacophony At Congaree National Park

What does a birder do when the wait for the peak of spring migration is just taking too darned long? One option is to head south. Early April is a great time to visit the parks of the southeast for a little bit of the warbler action that won’t get to the north until May. Florida is certainly one option, but for a little more seclusion with plenty of songbirds, Congaree National Park in South Carolina is the place to be.
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Birding In The National Parks: A "Big Year" In The National Parks

I’ve written a few times about the national parks I consider the best for birding, but several readers have asked which would be the best to visit to maximize the diversity of birds seen. When we talk about number of different birds seen, I always think about a big year. During a big year, a birder tries to see as many birds as possible in one calendar year within a certain geographic range, or under certain conditions.
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Birding In The National Parks: Working To Build Whooper Populations

It’s a safe bet that not too many travelers reading this post have visited Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. It’s Canada’s largest park and one of the largest national parks in the world at nearly five times the area of Yellowstone, but to say it’s a thirty-hour drive northeast of Seattle is an understatement of its remoteness.
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Birding In The National Parks: Parks Strangely Overlooked By Birders

I’ve talked at length about the best parks for birds and the parks where all the birders go. Everglades National Park usually tops that list. Big Bend and Acadia are also extremely popular birding parks. But which of the 59 national parks gets the least birding attention? That’s tough to quantify, but I’ve made an educated guess from perusing eBird data.
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National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide