White Mountain National Forest


The Forest's diversity of habitat provides a home for wildlife ranging from spotted salamanders to black bear and moose, with no fewer than 184 species of birds to boot.

While approximately 38 species of birds can be found in the Forest year-round (including chickadees, ravens, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers), their ranks swell to 110 or more during the summer months when neotropical migratory birds arrive to breed (ovenbird, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, and black-throated blue warbler, to name a few). Another 35 species pass through the forest as migrants or winter visitors. In some years there are "invasions" of Northern Hawk Owl and Great Gray Owl from the far north, as well as Bohemian Waxwings, Red and White Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, and Common Redpolls.

Songbirds' Summer Home

The wood thrush is one of the 72 neotropical migrant birds in the White Mountain National Forest. These birds, which include the American Redstart and Black-throated Blue Warbler, spend the winter months in the subtropical regions of Central America before flying north thousands of miles to North America to breed. Many of them spend summers in the White Mountains, filling our woods with beautiful songs, building nests, and raising their young before once again returning south.

Concern over the apparent decline of neotropical birds has led to efforts aimed at guaranteeing their continued survival. The White Mountain National Forest has joined forces with several universities, research centers, the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire to monitor bird population and nesting sites to ensure that forest management enhances these birds' ability to survive.

Birding Tips

Late spring and early summer are the best times for enjoying the greatest number and variety of birds. Since many birds prefer one habitat or another and are most active at different times, you'll see more species if you plan on visiting different habitats through the course of the day.

A pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will help you search out elusive, hard-to-find birds. Some people also like to bring along a small notebook for writing down descriptions of unfamiliar birds. Finally, a good field guide to birds will help you figure out just what you're looking at.

Although some birds are conspicuous and seem almost tame, many are shy and secretive. Most animals and birds don't like sudden movements or lots of noise. Being quiet and moving slowly will help you see more birds and maybe even other animals.

Be patient! It can take a long time and a lot of care to see birds and animals in the wild. But when you do, it's usually worth the wait.

Other Wildlife

In addition to dozens of species of birds, the White Mountain National Forest is home to many other animals, including black bear, moose, and deer. No matter how tame it may seem, never approach a wild animal. Give it plenty of space so that it won't feel harassed or stressed by your presence. (Use a telephoto lens if you want a picture.)

If you find a young bird or animal who seems to have been abandoned, it's best to leave it alone. Chances are good that mom or dad is close by just waiting for you to leave.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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