Fall Cold Fronts and Waterfowl
Late fall cold fronts often push ducks and other waterfowl south through the Adirondacks, landing them in places like Tupper Lake Marsh along the Route 30 causeway. And so birders can search for species like Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Ring-necked Duck, but as December advances, the deepening cold freezes up the lakes and pushes the ducks elsewhere for the winter. And so birders must visit places like the St. Lawrence Valley to find ducks, and they can check out the Malone website in order to learn more.
Winter Finches and Waxwings
But even though the ducks leave, there is still plenty to find during the cold months. For one thing, local bird feeders attract a variety of species including everything from Black-capped Chickadee to Blue Jay to Dark-eyed Junco. Finches may also stick around for all or part of the winter, and birders can find American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, or Pine Siskin chowing down on seed. Of more interest are species like Evening Grosbeak and Common Redpoll which may frequent feeders in some years. Redpolls usually move south about every other winter in the Adirondacks, and large flocks may also hold Hoary Redpolls with them.
Pine Grosbeaks also come south based upon food resources to our north and may be found in town where they gulp down berries and ornamental fruit. And while Pine Grosbeaks only arrive from time to time, Bohemian Waxwings annually dine on such fruit feasts, often stripping the trees bare in their hunger.
Field Songbirds, Snowy Owls, and Shrikes
Other annual winter visitors include American Tree Sparrows which can be found at feeders and in shrubs and hedgerows in the area, and open fields may provide habitat for Snow Buntings or Horned Larks. And wherever there are songbirds grouped up, you can bet there will be some lingering raptors looking for a meal - whether that's a Cooper's Hawk stalking near a bird feeder, or a Northern Shrike hunting from the edge of a field. There is sometimes a Northern Shrike hanging around near the town park in Tupper Lake across from the OWD tower.
And shrikes will not be the only visiting winter predator this year. This winter is predicted to be busy with Snowy Owls as they move south in search of food after a successful summer of nesting in the arctic - and they have been getting seen in the North Country since November. Any open field, beach, or marsh is worth checking for them, meaning most of the owls will likely stick to the St. Lawrence and Champlain Valleys, but birders can find them on the move anywhere there is appropriate habitat. And if finding unusual winter species is your goal, who can forget about the Ross's Gull which visited Tupper Lake last winter?!
Crossbills and Boreal Birds
Two other (much more regular) winter visitors have also been spotted of late - both Red and White-winged Crossbills nested in the Adirondacks this summer thanks to our bumper cone crop, and birders can find them in coniferous and boreal habitats as a result - they may nest again, and this winter looks promising for both species. Birders can check out places like Sabattis Bog south of Tupper Lake or Bloomingdale Bog and Bigelow Road north of Saranac Lake. There they can also search for resident boreal species like Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Boreal Chickadee, tough species which spend the year here regardless of the winter.
And so you should prove tough yourself, bundle up, grab your binoculars and something hot to drink and get outside exploring. After all, regardless of the cold and snow, there are lots of birds to find!
Plan your birding expedition!
By staying in Tupper Lake, a birder is surrounded by wonderful boreal habitat destinations and also close to the famous St. Lawrence Valley. Every conceivable habitat in New York, except ocean, is an easy drive from Tupper Lake! Grab lunch, and whether you decide to paddle, hike, or drive to your viewing location you're sure to enjoy your Tupper birding experience.