Birding Hotspots: Lesser-Known National Parks

Explore some lesser-known national parks that are birding hotspots.

Most people have heard of many of the famous national parks in the United States such as Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and Glacier. Although all of those parks are wonderful, the birding at some of the lesser-known parks can be great! Check out these lesser-known national parks that are birding hotspots.

1. Dry Tortugas, FL

The Dry Tortugas are located 70 miles west of Key West and are only accessible by boat or seaplane. Although getting there might be an adventure, the birding can be spectacular. Brown Noddies and Sotty Terns breed in the area and are one of the main reasons to visit. In addition to these nesting birds, there are a large number of migrants that stop to rest on the islands.

Birding Hotspots: Lesser-Known National ParksEric Ripma
Eric Ripma Brown Noddy can be found nesting at Dry Tortugas National Park

2. Hawaii Volcanoes, HI

Hawaii is a special place to go birding due to the unique and interesting species that call the islands home. On the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes is a wonderful place to spend some time looking at the native birds including species like Hawaii ‘Elepaio, Nene, and I’o (Hawaiian Hawk). In addition to the birds, you can also visit an active volcano!

Birding Hotspots: Lesser-Known National ParksRob Ripma
Rob Ripma The Nene or Hawaiian Goose is a common sight in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

3. Glacier Bay, AK

Glacier Bay National Park is part of Alaska’s Inside Passage and like the Dry Tortugas above, is only accessible by boat and seaplane. Thousands of seabirds nest in the park and smaller numbers of gulls, guillemots, puffins, and cormorants do as well. You can explore this park via a cruise ship but it’s much more fun to visit in a smaller boat.

4. Channel Islands, CA

This national park is known among birders because the islands have an endemic bird, Island Scrub-Jay. On the way out to the islands, there are a variety of seabirds to look for.

5. Haleakula, HI

While you might think of Maui as a place to hang out on the beach, the adventurous traveler should make their way up Haleakula to explore this incredible park. You’ll find amazing landscapes and a great variety of Hawaii’s native bird species.

Birding Hotspots: Lesser-Known National ParksRob Ripma
Rob Ripma ‘Apapani is one of the more common native birds at Haleakula National Park

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