Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine
Birdwatchers flock to the north-south migration flyways between breeding and wintering grounds.
Avitourism—or birding—is enjoying a growth spurt. Apparently, birding is growing so quickly it’s become the dominant type of nature-based tourism. For birdwatchers, the north-south migration flyways between breeding and wintering grounds are filled with opportunities to spy everything from majestic sandhill cranes to frenetic hummingbirds. States that offer shelter, safety, warm weather and sources of water to our winged friends often top the list.
Southeast Arizona, where mountains and desert intersect, attracts Canadian snowbirds as well as the winged variety. At the Arizonasonora Desert Museum in Tucson, birding enthusiasts enjoy the untethered Raptor Free Flight, showcasing the behaviour of birds of prey native to the desert. The multi-species Hummingbird Aviary is the spot to sit and watch the antics of dozens of the winged marvels. desertmuseum.org
The Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve near Sierra Vista, Arizona, is home to rare birds like the tufted flycatcher and flame-coloured tanager. The best months for birding are April through September (twohour guided walks are offered March through November). nature.org
Also near Sierra Vista, the waters of the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area provide resting places for more than 350 species of migratory birds. Several birdwatching trails branch out from the visitor centre at San Pedro House. sanpedroriver.org
Pockets of wilderness in Florida provide protected homes to both migratory and territorial bird species. East of Fort Myers, Corkscrew
Swamp Sanctuary is a keystone site of the National Audubon Society and home to the nation’s largest collection of gangly looking wood storks, whose nesting ground is the largest tract of old-growth bald cypress forest in the world. These wetlands also nurture more than 200 species, including barred owls, redshouldered hawks, white ibis, egrets, herons and woodpeckers. corkscrew.audubon.org
On nearby Sanibel Island, the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a large tract of environmentally valuable land and part of The Great Florida Birding Trail. Shorebirds and birds on a migration path flock here by the thousands, watched closely by visitors who walk, bike and drive the sevenkilometre Wildlife Drive to catch a glimpse of soft pink roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets, ospreys, white ibis, little blue herons and white pelicans. fws.gov/dingdarling and floridabirdingtrail.com
Farther north in North Carolina, in the middle of the “Atlantic Flyway,” Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a birdlover’s paradise. At Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge more than 400 species of birds land on the ponds, fields and saltwater marshes along the Outer Banks.
In Texas, nine Great Texas Wildlife Trails include birding information specific to the landscape ranging from coastal regions to prairies and Hill Country.
Also in Texas, the San Antonio Botanical Garden offers Bird Walks (except during summer months) with a birding docent. More than 250 bird species have been sighted at the garden. sabot.org