Best Birdwatching (2014)


The battle to be named 'Best Birdwatching' was intense and hard fought, but after four weeks of voting, Magee Marsh in Ohio took home top honors. This winning spot on the banks of Lake Erie attracts large numbers of North American songbirds – and the birdwatchers who come to spot them.

  • Magee Marsh, Ohio

    Magee Marsh, Ohio

    Magee Marsh on the southern shore of Lake Erie sits at the epicenter of the spring warbler migration, when large concentrations of North American songbirds head to their northern breeding grounds. During May, the peak month for warbler watching, as many as 30 species have been spotted.
    Photo courtesy of Paul Hurtado

  • Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Penn.

    Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Penn.

    The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania has a history of raptor conservation dating back to 1934, making it the world's oldest birds of prey sanctuary. Today, birdwatchers show up in autumn for the spectacular airshow during the annual hawk migration.
    Photo courtesy of Holly Cybelle Merker

  • Bosque del Apache, N.M.

    Bosque del Apache, N.M.

    Where there's something to see at New Mexico's Bosque del Apache during any season, the estuary is most famous among birders for its wintering sandhill cranes and snow geese. The morning flyout, when tens of thousands of birds take to the sky in unison right around sunrise, is well worth waking up before the sunrise.
    Photo courtesy of John Fowler

  • Platte River Valley, Neb.

    Platte River Valley, Neb.

    As an important stopover in the spring migration, Nebraska's Platte River Valley is the place for witnessing hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes on their way from the southern U.S. to Canada. Blinds at the Audubon Rowe Sanctuary make ideal spots for sunrise and sunset viewings, and lucky birders might even catch a glimpse of a whooping crane.
    Photo courtesy of Larry Crist / USFWS

  • Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

    Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

    From November to March, a truly wild population of whooping cranes winter at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the gulf coast of Texas. Intertidal marsh birds and other coastal migrants, along with huge numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the nearby Rockport-Fulton area, make it a must-see birding location.
    Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson

  • Sanibel Island, Fla.

    Sanibel Island, Fla.

    During the winter, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge becomes a paradise for birdwatchers and photographers who come to see roseate spoonbills, herons, bald eagles, American white pelicans and countless shorebirds, often at amazingly close range.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Blanchard/iStock

  • Dauphin Island, Alabama

    Dauphin Island, Alabama

    During spring, exhausted neotropical birds who've just crossed the Gulf of Mexico "fall out" on the coastal island of Dauphin in Alabama to find food and shelter. Before the fall migration, shore birds gather on the island in preparation for the return flight. A total of 347 species have been spotted at this top Southeastern birdwatching destination.
    Photo courtesy of MeliaMuse/iStock

  • Cape May, N.J.

    Cape May, N.J.

    Cape May is all about migration, and it has a reputation as one of the best migration observation spots on the east coast for good reason. In autumn, Cape May Point becomes a prime hawk migration site where the birds are nearly always visible. Fall is also a great time to spot migrating songbirds, while the focus shifts to shorebirds in spring.
    Photo courtesy of Don Freiday/USFWS

  • Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas

    Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas

    The McAllen area of Texas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to several top-notch birdwatching spots in Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges and Bensten-Rio Grande Valley State Park. The unique birding here includes several "specialty" breeders as well as vagrant species from Mexico. Visiting birders might spot green jays, plain chachalacas, Altamira orioles and olive sparrows among others.
    Photo courtesy of Vince Smith

  • Southeastern Ariz.

    Southeastern Ariz.

    The "Sky Islands" of southeastern Arizona are a magnet for birds. The most famous residents are the 15 species of hummingbirds - the highest diversity north of Mexico - visible from April to September and earning the region the name "Hummingbird Capital of the U.S."
    Photo courtesy of Dennis Donohue/iStock

Finishing strong in second place was Pennsylvania's Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, one of the nation's best spots to watch the sky during the annual raptor migration. It also won over readers with its rich history of raptor conservation.

Both Bosque del Apache in New Mexico and Platte River Valley in Nebraska finished in the top five, and both are famous for sunrise and sunset viewings of tens of thousands of birds (snow geese and sandhill cranes respectively). Rounding out the top five was the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.

The full list of winners in the 'Best Birdwatching' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:

  1. Magee Marsh, Ohio
  2. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Penn.
  3. Bosque del Apache, N.M.
  4. Platte River Valley, Neb.
  5. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
  6. Sanibel Island, Fla.
  7. Dauphin Island, Alabama
  8. Cape May, N.J.
  9. Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas
  10. Southeastern Ariz.

Congratulations to all our winners. 


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