While many other families of birds may compete for this distinction, the fluty and ethereal songs of thrushes may take the prize as the sound which embodies the easy pace of summer. They are often heard on cool mornings as well as warm evenings, whispering their vespers to whomever is able to slow down and listen. And summer offers us some of the best opportunities for us do just that – or to take adventurous birding trips in search of as many species as we can find.
The variety of thrushes found in the Adirondacks are often indicative of certain habitats. Wood Thrushes and Veeries are generally found in deciduous habitats of lower elevations where they are joined by a host of other birds including Great Crested Flycatcher, Winter Wren, Least Flycatcher, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Philadelphia Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Scarlet Tanager.
Hermit Thrushes are also common in deciduous forests, but will also often be found in the mixed forests and coniferous forests which characterize much of the region. They too are joined by many species in these habitats including Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Northern Parula - these last four area a sample of the 20 species of breeding warblers found in the High Peaks Region alone!
Many of the best coniferous forests are found in the bogs and boreal habitats which characterize large areas of the northern Adirondacks, and these habitats are also home to other boreal breeders like Lincoln’s Sparrow, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers, and Black-backed Woodpecker. Some of these lowland boreal forests are also home to Swainson’s Thrush, a species which can also be found in mixed forests throughout the region.
But Swainson’s Thrush is perhaps best known as a species which inhabits the spruce-fir forests on tops of the mountains – including Whiteface Mountain. There they are joined by a list of other species which include Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and that most prized of all the thrushes, Bicknell’s Thrush. A species of conservation concern and a bird not easily found elsewhere, Bicknell’s Thrush calls the summits of the mountains in the northeast home during the breeding season, and it compels birders skyward to explore its mountain home as a result. Birders can choose to hike through the High Peaks or up Whiteface, or they can take the toll road up the mountain, and through a series of habitats created by the changing elevation. It is a birding adventure complete with song, color, and breath-taking views.
Fly on by
But birders should not wait long to explore either the Bicknell’s mountain fortress or the chosen homes of the other Adirondack thrushes. After all, summer in the North Country is short and there is little time to waste until the birds stop singing and begin to flock up for the long migration south. In truth it creates one of the best times to bird of the year – when a single flock of birds can hold tanagers, grosbeaks, vireos, cuckoos, thrushes, and warblers. And Bicknell’s Thrush also gives birders one last chance to hear them sing in late summer and early fall – a short-lived period of song before they head south for the cold months. As such late summer can be amazingly productive for birds, as if the birds are throwing a party before they leave us for the winter.
Hike, Bike, Ride, or Drive
View birds from all elevations by hiking a High Peak. The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway offers a unique opportunity to drive or ride (car, motorcycle or bicycle) to the top of an Adirondack High Peak, and stop along the way for fantastic views and great birding at all altitudes!
Book your stay in the Whiteface Region today!