Four watery places to find birds this summer

6/25/2013 | 0

The entrance to Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas. Photo by Jose Moncivais (Creative Commons)

The entrance to Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas. Photo by Jose Moncivais (Creative Commons)

Looking for a great place to go birding this summer? Here are four parks that I’m sure will add a few birds to your life list.

Because thousands of miles separate them, you might assume they have little in common. The truth is, they share a common denominator that makes them magnets for birds — water, either lots of it or a fairly small amount, but water all the same.

The location of Presqu’ile Provincial Park, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, makes it one of Canada’s top birding destinations. Presqu’ile Bay is a major staging area for waterfowl in March, 20-warbler days are not uncommon in May, and shorebirds move through in astounding variety from August to November. The author of our profile, David Bree, is a naturalist at the park.

In Saskatoon, the South Saskatchewan River, a natural corridor for migrants, flows past Gabriel Dumont Park. Our author, photographer and Saskatoon Nature Society member May Haga, writes that spring is the time to look for Tennessee, Magnolia, Cape May, Wilson’s, Canada, and other migrant warblers but that her favorite time of year is autumn, when the foliage turns color and migrants stop to refuel on their journeys south.

On the boundary between suburbs and desert in Las Vegas, four small lakes at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs attract birds year-round. Je Anne Strott-Branca, field-trip chair for Red Rock Audubon, reports that Black-crowned Night-Heron, Phainopepla, and Burrowing Owl breed there, and that Yellow-breasted Chat, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Cassin’s Vireo pass through in spring and fall.

And in Texas, just four miles north of the Rio Grande River, restored wetlands and a deepwater lake at Estero Llano Grande State Park have attracted 326 species, including migrants, wintering waterfowl, and some 30 birds that you can find in South Texas (if you’re lucky) but nowhere else in the U.S. John Yochum, a ranger at the park, wrote our profile.

If you go to one of these hotspots, or if you’ve birded one already, please tell me how you liked it. Leave a comment. — Chuck Hagner, Editor

Hotspots Near You

We publish up-to-date information about four easily accessible places to watch birds in every issue of BirdWatching magazine. For each hotspot, we offer a map, driving directions, a bird list, links, contact information, and a detailed description written by a local birder who knows the place well and birds it often. A version of the article above appeared in our June 2013 issue.

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