August 23, 2019
Bird Watching in the Finger Lakes
By: Donafaye Zoll
Do you love the search for a new bird? When hiking, are you more impressed by the songbird on the way up than the view? You, my friend, are a birder. Whether you’re a beginner birder who wants to start identifying species, or an all-out die-hard, the Finger Lakes region of New York is the perfect destination to discover new birds all year round.
Wide Variety of Habitats
The Finger Lakes region has a wide variety of terrain, from the glacier-carved lakes to the wooded mountains and the numerous wetlands, that are all ideal environments for birds. Different birds require different habitats, and the diverse ecosystems in the area attract unique birds to the area.
300+ Species Spotted
Even on your drive out here, you may have to pull over to snap a picture of birds flying overhead, fishing in a pond, or perched on a tree. There are over 300 species of birds that have been recorded in the region and more are being discovered every day. Grab your list and get ready as you may even find some of your toughest to find birds yet!
The Finger Lakes Land Trust noted the importance of preserving wildland areas so species could continue to thrive in the region. Parks, preserves, and state forests have been set aside to protect nature and allow humans to enjoy these areas for recreation. You can see a map of all the trails and preservation areas on the GoFingerLakes website, but we’ve picked out some of our favorites.
Just south of Canandaigua is a 900-acre environmental education center that is known as one of the best birding spots to see woodland birds. Walkthrough the forest to hear songbirds all around you. Warblers and robins to woodpeckers and sparrows, you’ll spot a wide variety of birds in just this one place. If you are new to birding, this center is an absolute gem. The educators are as knowledgeable as they are passionate and will help you identify birds and share their tips to finding the more elusive species like the black-and-white warbler that is known to scour the grounds.
Risser Road Swamp
Drive north from Canandaigua towards Farmington to find one of the most populated birding areas in the state. The Risser Road Swamp is rarely utilized by humans, save for the lunch fisherman or the dedicated birder, but migratory birds love the shallow waters and vegetation. You may see large egrets and herons along with small songbirds like sandpipers and yellowlegs, and even birds of prey like the red-tailed hawk or osprey.
Sandy Bottom Beach
Located right on Honeoye Lake, lies the Sandy Bottom Park and Nature Trail, a beautiful spot with a sandy beach, a playground for the kids, and a lovely trail network. There are also a huge amount of bird sightings here making it the perfect place for a casual birding day. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful weather at their pavilion or on one of several grassy lawns. You’ll see plenty of geese and ducks at this park as well as a great variety of woodland songbirds and larger coastal birds.
Grab your binoculars, a friend, maybe even a little picnic, and get out there to see all the beautiful and diverse birds in the area. If birding wasn’t your favorite pastime before, it will be soon!
Ready to go bird watching in the Finger Lakes? Book a stay at the Sutherland House Victorian Bed & Breakfast, a historic inn located in the heart of beautiful Canandaigua, New York.