Migratory Birds in New England

Migratory Birds in New England
Millions of people enjoy birdwatching and more than 800 species of birds breed in North America. In New England there are thousands of birds to be sighted, many of which migrate to other locations for part of the year. Amateur birders in New England can start to learn about migratory birds by looking for a few that are very common and easy to spot at the feeder.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Regional guidebook of birds
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
Step 1
Observe as much as you can in areas where birds frequent--your backyard, bird feeders at your porch or in your yard, parks or paths. Getting out there and watching is the number one key to seeing these migratory birds. Season of course has a lot to do with it. There are a lot more birds around New England in the summer because many of them migrate south for the winter. The following birds are easy to spot if you put up a seed feeder or hummingbird feeder but also in the trees and bushes around most homes in the Northeast.
Step 2
Keep and eye out for the American Gold Finches. These birds are hard to miss as they are bright yellow with black tipped wings and tail. Breeding males have a black capped head and yellow shoulder patch. The females, though still yellow, have a more olive tone and are not as bright. They are approximately 5 inches in length. Fill your feeder with sunflowers seeds and these birds will be all over it. These are also sometimes called "wild canaries" because of their colors. Though some of these birds stick around southern New England year-round, most of them migrate to an area which spans the southern United States and northern Mexico.
Step 3
Look for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zooming around in the early spring and summer across the entirety of New England, Atlantic seaboard, Midwest and southern Canada. These tiny (weighing less than 1 oz.) are a metallic green on their back and the adult males have a red throat and black necks. The females have white throats and buff colored sides under their green wings. They are 2 to 3 inches long. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winters outside of United States in Mexico, South America and parts of the Caribbean.
Step 4
Watch for Indigo Buntings at feeders, woodland clearings and pastures. These beautiful deep cobalt blue birds are about 5 1/2 inches in length and the males sing well into August which is later than most birds. Their songs are usually a series of paired high-pitched phrases. The females are dull brown on their backs and wings with some blue spotting on their tales and breast. They winter in Central America and the southern tip of Florida.
Step 5
Listen for the Eastern Phoebes' signature call which sounds like its name. These birds are brownish-gray with pale olive to white underneath and are about 7 inches in length. They do not have eye rings like some similar looking flycatchers. These like to nest in rafters or barns. Their winter range is across the southeastern United States and parts of northeastern Mexico.
Step 6
Keep a log which birds you have seen and take a picture if you can. Using binoculars helps to identify birds from a distance. Again, cross-checking your thoughts with a guidebook from a trusted source, such as the National Geographic Society or the Audubon Society, is best. Once you have a list of migratory birds that you can easily recognize it will be easier to learn to identify more. If you happen to see a bird that you have never seen before, take note of its features and look it up. Barn Swallows, Hermit Thrushes, geese, ducks and many others are migratory.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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