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America's Best Birdwatching

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, JACKSON, WYOMING
The park combines spectacular scenery and diverse habitats typical of the Rockies, from sagebrush and lush meadows to forested slopes and bare peaks. Each has its characteristic birds. The endangered trumpeter swan breeds here. Note the regular replacement of one species by a close relative as the elevation changes—a progression you can see among the jays (including the black-billed magpie and Clark nutcracker), nuthatches, chickadees, thrushes, and sparrows. Watch also for elk, moose, and bear. Park rangers lead nature walks. Grand Teton National Park, Drawer 170, Moose, WY 83012; 307/739-3399 or 307/739-3300.

TULE LAKE, CALIFORNIA
Three national wildlife refuges—Lower Klamath, Clear Lake (not open to the public), and Tule Lake—are oases for waterbirds in the semidesert near the Oregon border. The refuges support significant breeding populations of grebes, ducks, gulls, terns, and cormorants. Rarely seen sage grouse live in the dry uplands. In fall hundreds of thousands of swans, geese, and ducks stop here before continuing south to the Central Valley. Winter is the best time to see birds of prey, such as rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, and prairie falcons. Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, Rte. 1, Box 74, Tule Lake, CA 96134; 916/667-2231.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, MERCED, CALIFORNIA
About 200 miles of road and 750 miles of trails make much of Yosemite's 1,189 square miles accessible. Elevations in the Sierra Nevada range from 2,000 to 13,000 feet, providing a cross section of habitats. In these dramatic settings, many birds typical of more northerly, essentially Canadian, forests are easy to see, such as the great gray owl and pine grosbeak. Rare in the East, they coexist with typical Rockies denizens like the calliope hummingbird and others, such as the white-headed woodpecker, unique to the West Coast. Spring and summer are the best seasons. Yosemite National Park, Box 577, Merced, CA 95389; 209/372-0200.

MONTEREY PENINSULA, CALIFORNIA
The municipal wharf and the Coast Guard pier and breakwater allow for good views of saltwater ducks, gulls, and alcids (murres, guillemots, and other puffinlike birds). From Point Pinos, you can see shearwaters and alcids over the ocean. Along the rocky shore look for Pacific coast species, including the black oystercatcher, the surfbird, and the wandering tattler. Beaches and mudflats teem with other sandpipers and plovers, while California natives like the chestnut-backed chickadee occupy the hills of Monterey cypress and pine. Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, CA 93950; 408/648-3116.

ROGER F. PASQUIER is the author of several books on birds and their conservation; he works at the Environmental Defense Fund.

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