Best Place for Birding (2016)


Birdwatching is a huge pastime in the USA, so 10Best teamed up with a panel of bird and wildlife experts who nominated their favorite places for the title of Best Place for Birding. After four weeks of reader voting, the results are in!

  • Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

    Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

    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 Thinkstock

  • Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Magee Marsh

    Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Magee Marsh

    Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and 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 Thinkstock

  • Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

    Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

    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

  • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

    Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

    Located northeast of Naples, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary protects a swathe of Everglades ecosystem where it's possible to spot a diversity of birds, including wood stork, bald eagles, barred owl, gnatcatchers and the black-bellied whistling duck.
    Photo courtesy of Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith / Flickr

  • Francis Beidler Forest

    Francis Beidler Forest
    South Carolina

    The Francis Beidler Forest Audubon sanctuary in South Carolina protects a swathe of old-growth forest where 140 bird species live among the centuries old bald cypress trees. Popular sightings include Swainson’s Warblers, Carolina Chickadee, Wood Storks and Swallow-tailed Kites.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Rowe Sanctuary

    Rowe Sanctuary

    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

  • Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

    Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

    Thousands of migratory birds stop at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge each year to rest, nest and forage. Endangered nēnē were reintroduced to the park in the 90s and have continued to thrive, and it's also possible to spot Laysan albatross, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, and wedge-tailed shearwaters.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

    Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
    New Jersey

    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 USFWS

  • Sky Islands

    Sky Islands

    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 Heather Paul / Flickr

  • Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

    Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
    New Mexico

    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 fly out, 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 Thinkstock

The top 10 winners in the category Best Place for Birding are as follows:

  1. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge - Texas
  2. Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Magee Marsh - Ohio
  3. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary - Pennsylvania
  4. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Florida
  5. Francis Beidler Forest - South Carolina
  6. Rowe Sanctuary - Nebraska
  7. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge - Hawaii
  8. Cape May National Wildlife Refuge - New Jersey
  9. Sky Islands - Arizona
  10. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - New Mexico

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts David Houghton (National Wildlife Refuge Association), Matt Johnson and Stephen W. Kress (National Audubon Society) and David Mizejewski (National Wildlife Federation) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of American wildlife.

Additional nominees for this honor included Big Bend National Park in Texas, Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, Eastern Egg Rock in Maine, Everglades National Park in Florida, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, Monterey Bay in California, Nome in Alaska and Point Reyes National Seashore in California.

Congratulations to all our winning parks and refuges!

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AlertThe Experts

David Houghton

David Houghton

David Houghton

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Stephen W. Kress

Stephen W. Kress

Stephen W. Kress

David Mizejewski

David Mizejewski

David Mizejewski