National parks preserve an incredible range of landscapes and habitats for wildlife, including birds! Discover just some of the best places for birdwatching that can be found in our national parks.Less
Every year between 41 and 59 distinct bird species are spotted within Catoctin Mountain Park, including some considered “watch list species.” Forests and streams create the perfect conditions for many birds spotted in the park, including wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, scarlet tanager, and wild turkeys, which returned to the park in the 1960s.
The brilliant colors of the mountain bluebird are a common sight against the dark volcanic rock of this Idaho park. Shrublands and rocky terrain are no barrier for the many birds found almost exclusively in Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve’s somewhat desolate landscape. More than 200 bird species have been identified in the park, many of them drawn to the park’s water sources.
Travelling some 2,500 miles to Hawai'i is no easy task for a bird! The birds that survived the trip have since evolved into new species, found nowhere else in the world. Today, about half of Hawai'i’s native bird species are extinct, but Haleakalā National Park offers the chance to see some of rare, exotic species such as the endangered Hawaiian short-eared owl, as well as several colorful species of honeycreepers.
The central corridor of the one of America’s great flyways, the Mississippi River provides birds with plenty of food, water, and shelter. Take a river trip along Mississippi National River and Recreation Area to see dozens of unique species, including water birds like the belted kingfisher, the American coot, and the great egret.
Changing altitudes within Mount Rainier National Park means you can spot varied types of birds throughout the park. The northern spotted owl, while increasingly rare, is one of the most spectacular birds you might see here in its natural habitat. More common residents you may spot while in the park include Steller’s jay, sooty grouse, ptarmigan, and varied thrush.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore provides birds islands to rest upon during migrations, creating an essential refuge for birds traveling over Lake Superior. Some of the species that call these islands home include the great blue heron, the double-crested cormorant, and the endangered piping plover, among others. Each year many neotropical birds can be spotted in this park as they migrate to Central and South America.
More than 200 bird species inhabit Montezuma Castle National Monument, and while many of these birds are only seen during breeding season, you can find lots of year-round visitors as well, especially in riparian habitats near water sources. Spot Gambel’s quail along hiking trails in the morning, or Bewick’s wrens and mourning doves throughout the park.
From pied-billed grebes along the shore of Namekagon Lake to bald eagles at Stevens Creek Landing, more than 240 species have been spotted throughout Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. Each season and area of this unique park provides the opportunity to spot different types of birds, making it perfect for novice birders or experts!
Known for its avian diversity, Chiricahua National Monument is the ideal place to spot a few rare birds. The park boasts 13 hummingbird species, some of them seldom seen in the U.S., as well as the elegant trogon with its brilliant plumage. The area is so rich in birds that the American Bird Conservancy has identified it and surrounding sites as an “important bird area.”
On the northern Alaska Peninsula, Katmai National Park & Preserve harbors year-round residents such as redpolls, horned owls, bald eagles, gray jays, and magpies. Spawning salmon attract ducks and scavengers such as ravens, and along the coast, tufted puffins are not an uncommon sight. When planning your visit, try spring and summer for the greatest avian diversity.