Birder's Guide

AUG 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Located on Canada's east coast, the province of New Brunswick is often overlooked as a birding destination. However, New Brunswick is home to several birding phenomena that should be on every birder's bucket list. The magnifcent Bay of Fundy and its "world's highest tides" create an ecosystem that plays host to incredible fights of shorebirds, and its rich waters provide food for large colonies of nesting alcids and enormous focks of pelagic birds in summer. Despite being relatively compact at roughly 62,500 square kilometers, New Brunswick has a diversity of habitats, from its central highlands (at a modest 500-meter [1,640-foot] altitude) to its 700-kilometer [435-mile] coastline. The eastern coastline on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait features wide sandy beaches, lagoons, and large salt marshes. The coast of the Bay of Fundy offers rocky cliffs and vast mudfats. Acadian forest covers at least 80% of the province's land area and provides habitat for many migrants, breeders, and residents. Peat bogs, freshwater marshes, lakes, and beautiful river valleys are all plentiful. Offshore islands, especially the Grand Manan archipelago at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy in the south and Miscou Island in the northeast, provide excellent birding, particularly during spring and fall migration. The changing seasons present very different birding opportunities. June is the best time to visit New Brunswick for breeding species. Late July and August is the best time to view the concentrations of seabirds and shorebirds along the Bay of Fundy. Winter birding can also be rewarding, with northern fnches, hawks, and owls, but visitors should remain aware of unpredictable weather and its associated travel conditions. Late spring and early summer is the best time to search for the several boreal specialties New Brunswick is known for. The largely coniferous forests of the north and central areas are home to large numbers of war- An Atlantic Puffn comes in to feed the young in its burrow. Photo © LIGHTRAE.CA blers, thrushes, vireos, and fycatchers, but of particular interest will be Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Olivesided Flycatcher, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. Though some of these species are fairly widespread in New Brunswick, the recently completed Maritime Breeding Bird Atlas shows their populations are concentrated in the northern third of the province. Within the northern forests, the central uplands host another soughtafter breeding bird, Bicknell's Thrush. With an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs in the province, Bicknell's Thrush is restricted to scrubby or rejuvenating forests of birch and fr at altitudes above 450 meters [1,476 feet]. Listen for this rarity on early mornings in late spring. Mount Carlton Provincial Park, with its excellent hiking trails, is a good spot to look for these species, but the Christmas Mountains and other locales offer suitable habitat as well. Note that many of the logging roads that criss-cross the north will require a vehicle with high clearance and good tires. Machias Seal Island, located off Grand Manan Island and the southernmost point in New Brunswick—if you don't accept Maine's claim to the island—hosts a nesting Birding New Brunswick 38 Birder's Guide to Travel | August 2013

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