Birding Hotspots for Incredible Winter Birds

These birding hotspots might be cold but you'll forget all about it when you see there incredible birds.

For many people, it might sound crazy to head north in the winter instead of south but serious birders know there are plenty of incredible birding hotspots to visit even when it’s freezing. Owls tend to be the main species that draws birders north in the winter but once you’re there, you’ll see there are many more birds to see! Here are some of the best places to visit for winter birding.

  1. Upper Peninsula (UP) – Michigan

    There are so many great places to go birding in the UP. From Sault Ste. Marie in the eastern UP all the way to the Kewenaw Peninsula in the west, you can spend at least a week visiting all the awesome spots. Highlight species include Snowy Owl, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse, Evening Grosbeak, and Boreal Chickadee.

    Birding Hotspots for Incredible Winter BirdsRob Ripma
    Rob Ripma It’s exciting to be driving down the road and seeing Snowy Owls sitting on telephone poles.
  2. Duluth/Sax-Zim Bog – Minnesota

    This part of Minnesota is likely the most well-known winter birding destination. It tends to get more owls each winter than the UP and is really well developed with services for birders. In addition to being great for owls, you can find Gray Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, both Red and White-winged Crossbills, and plenty of gulls. It’s also a good spot to look for Gyrfalcon!

    Birding Hotspots for Incredible Winter BirdsRob Ripma
    Rob Ripma Gray Jays are a fun species to spend time watching and photographing.
  3. Niagara Falls – New York/Ontario, Canada

    If you love gulls, Niagara Falls is the place to be! Thousands of gulls of many species can be seen here throughout the winter.

  4. Algonquin Provincial Park – Ontario, Canada

    For a bit more of an adventure, head north of the border to this park that is northeast of Toronto, Canada. The bird feeders at this park are a great place to see tons of winter finches such as Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, Red and White-winged Crossbills, and Evening and Pine Grosbeaks.

    Birding Hotspots for Incredible Winter BirdsEric Ripma
    Eric Ripma Evening Grosbeaks are one of the most beautiful feeder birds in the north.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.