Where to Bird this Month: May

It doesn’t get any better than this.  This is what Rochesterians live for!

In fact, more species are reported in May than any other month. On average 68 new species arrive, and 230 are seen overall this month.

Bobolink (male), Burger Park. (© Jay Greenberg)

Bobolink (male), Burger Park. (© Jay Greenberg)

The spring migration reaches its peak by the second weekend in May, nearly 30 species of warblers arrive in the woods, Bobolink arrive in the fields, and shorebirds continue to stop at wet spots in the fields.

The sheer volume of migrating songbirds means some are bound to spill over into your yard, especially if you have trees, shrubs and other natural cover. Watch for warblers, vireos, and thrushes – perhaps even a Lincoln’s Sparrow might be spotted picking through last year’s fallen leaves and litter.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (immature). © Richard Ashworth

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (immature). © Richard Ashworth

The crown jewels of the spring – warblers – arrive in force. With them come vireos, thrushes, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow- and Black-billed Cuckoo, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and, later in the month empidonax flycatchers. Island Cottage Woods and Firehouse/Church Trail are probably the premier spots for their volume of migrating songbirds. But both Durand Eastman and Cobb’s Hill are also excellent.

Lincoln's Sparrow, Oxnard, CA. © Richard Ashworth

Lincoln’s Sparrow, Oxnard, CA. © Richard Ashworth

Vultures, Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Sharp-shinned Hawk continue to fly over in good numbers. Migrating Common Nighthawk will be visible at dusk, especially along the lakeshore. A great vantage point is the hawk watch platform at Braddock Bay, or any other vantage point along the lakeshore.

Ruddy Turnstone 3 by Chuck Schleigh

Ruddy Turnstone by Chuck Schleigh

The lake will hold Black-bellied Plover on the beaches, and Ruddy Turnstone on the piers. May can be a good month for gulls as well. Later in the month, look for Franklin’s and Laughing Gull. Jetties and piers at Charlotte and Irondequoit Bay, and also beaches are great places to look.

Least Bittern, Florida (© D. Sherony)

Least Bittern, Florida (© D. Sherony)

Least Bittern and Sora Rail will be seen in the marshes of Braddock Bay and Salmon Creek and Irondequoit Bay.

HANA is great for Rusty Blackbird, warblers, swallows, shorebirds, and bitterns – it’s tough to call! Go there expecting to find something cool and unusual and you usually will!

The possibilities are endless for some great birding this month!

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