5 Underrated Birding Destinations In The United States

Wings up, bird lovers! The United States is a paradise for avian wildlife, with some of the world’s top birding destinations waiting to be explored.

But don’t flock to the usual spots like Florida and California just yet – there are hidden gems that are just as amazing.

Venture out to the coastlines and forests to uncover these five most underrated birding spots in all of America. So get your binoculars ready for an unforgettable journey!

5 underrated birding destinations in the US

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee is often overlooked as a birding destination, but it’s actually one of the best spots in the US. 

Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, this park has a surprisingly rich diversity of habitats, which in turn attracts many different bird species.

Photo of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The high ridges and valleys provide great elevation and temperature variations that attract different species of birds from around the country. 

Every year, numerous migratory birds flock to the park, taking a break during their journey to and from their winter homes. 

Counting all species that live here or visit during migration, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a bird lover’s paradise with over 400 different species to spot.

You can find some rare species here such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, northern goshawk, and black-billed cuckoo. 

There are also a variety of common songbirds like the tufted titmouse, yellow warbler, and eastern towhee. 

And keep your eyes peeled for exciting sightings of the lightning-fast Peregrine Falcon, elegant Osprey, and majestic Bald Eagle.

Big Bend National Park, Texas 

Big Bend National Park in Texas is one of the most underrated birding destinations in America. 

Nestled alongside the stunning Rio Grande river and the US-Mexico border, this park boasts an array of habitats that draw in flocks of avian wildlife from across North America.

Photo of Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park, Texas

The wide open desert spaces provide great viewing opportunities for both resident and migratory species like roadrunners, hawks, and owls. 

And if you head to the mighty Rio Grande you can spot ducks, geese, sandpipers, plovers and much more.

The park’s riparian forests provide great nesting sites for rare species like the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo.

With over 450 species calling this park home, you’ll be able to witness a diverse array of birds in their natural habitats.

In addition to the common species like raptors and songbirds, Big Bend also offers opportunities for more specialized birders. 

Birders who are looking for rarer species can keep an eye out for painted buntings, scissor-tailed flycatchers and painted redstarts. 

Keen-eyed birders can find a variety of Texas raptors like the peregrine falcon, northern goshawk and Harris’s hawk.

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Texas 

The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas is another of the most underrated birding destinations in America. 

Located on the upper coast of the state, this refuge offers great opportunities for observing new species and rare birds. 

Photo of Great Blue Heron in Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Great Blue Heron in Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

The area is home to not just one, but three amazing habitats – marshes, estuaries, and tidal flats – all teeming with an array of unique bird species.

From the melodious songs of common songbirds to the fierce majesty of raptors like Ospreys and Red-tailed Hawks, the marshes are a wildlife enthusiast’s dream come true!

The estuaries attract shorebirds – including sandpipers, plovers, and godwits – while the tidal flats often draw in wading birds such as herons, egrets, and ibises. 

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 300 species of birds, offering a great variety for visitors to view. 

While the American White Ibis is the most frequently observed bird here, there are a plethora of other fascinating bird species to admire.

These include rare species like the red-breasted merganser, purple gallinule, and black-bellied whistling duck. 

The refuge also serves as a great place for observing migrating species like the white-eyed vireo, yellow warbler, and common nighthawk.

Kansas City

Kansas City has acquired the reputation of being the ultimate birding destination, perfect for both novice and seasoned birdwatchers, and birding is just one of the many free things to do in Kansas City

Situated along the Missouri River this city provides a diverse range of habitats that support an incredible variety of birds. 

Parks and green spaces near the river provide excellent opportunities for observing waterfowl like, geese, and pel. 

The fields and meadows around the city attract a long list of impressive grassland bird species, as well as raptors like Red-tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons, and American Kestrels.

As one of Missouri’s largest cities, Kansas City is also home to a variety of urban birds including starlings, doves, sparrows, and crows. 

The best birding sites in Kansas City are Swope Park and the Lakeside Nature Center. 

Located along Brush Creek, the 543-acre Swope Park offers an abundance of habitats that appeal to a wide range of birds. 

Visitors can observe waterfowl such as mallards, grebes and loons at its wetlands, while songbirds like thrushes, warblers, and orioles can be spotted in the park’s oak-hickory forests. 

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge And Apalachicola River Basin Area, Florida

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Apalachicola River Basin area in Florida are two of the most underrated birding destinations in America. 

Spanning 65,000 acres of intact marshland habitats along the Gulf Coast, this sanctuary is the go-to breeding ground for a host of Florida waterfowl, shorebirds and others. It is also a great site for observing resident species like rails, kingfishers and wading birds.

Photo of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida

The refuge is composed of five distinct habitats – salt marshes, freshwater marshes, maritime oak forests, estuaries and the Florida Gulf Coast barrier islands – allowing visitors to observe a wide variety of birds in their natural environment. 

The most frequently seen birds are wood storks, white ibises and great blue herons. 

In addition, over 200 species of migratory birds visit this area, including warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and orioles.

Birders can explore a variety of trails that lead through different habitats at the refuge. 

With over 300 species calling it home, you’ll have no shortage of raptors, shorebirds, songbirds, and more to marvel at in the Apalachicola River Basin.

The area supports an amazing variety of wading birds such as egrets, ibises and roseate spoonbills that can be seen in the marshes, swamps, and woodlands along the river.

Final remarks

From the marshes of Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to the woodlands and wetlands of Kansas City, there are plenty of birding hot spots across America that offer incredible opportunities for viewing a wide range of species. 

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Apalachicola River Basin area in Florida provide an even more diverse experience with over 300 species from raptors to shorebirds calling it home. 

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced birder, these destinations will surely delight and inspire your love for nature’s feathered friends! 

So grab your binoculars, head out into the wild blue yonder, and get ready to spot some amazing birds!

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