The Audubon Society has designated 2018 as the Year of the Bird. It’s also the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So grab the binoculars and head to the mountains, the coast or the canyons to observe beautiful creatures in flight.
1. BEAUMONT, TEXAS
The area is home to Big Thicket National Preserve, which encompasses 108,000 acres and has been recognized as a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the American Bird Conservancy. At Cattail Marsh Scenic Wetlands, scope for ducks, snow geese, snowy egrets, prairie warblers, red-bellied woodpeckers and more. Each year, Beaumont participates in the “big sit” birding event, a challenge to spot (and hear) as many birds as possible in 24 hours.
2. EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA
Follow paved roads or wooden boardwalks to spot warblers, mangrove cuckoos, herons, egrets and other wading birds in the country’s largest subtropical wilderness area. Eagles, hawks and osprey also abound in this 1.5-million-acre park. Home to 360 species, a World Heritage Site and designated as a Wetland of International Importance, the national park offers a free Junior Ranger program to enhance the experience for young explorers
3. FALKLAND ISLANDS
This 740-island archipelago is best known for its large and accessible rare bird colonies. Home to as many as 1 million penguins, visitors are eager to see five of the 17 species frolicking in the surf or waddling along the beach. Be on the lookout for the Cobb’s wren, a striated caracara and the flightless steamer duck. The islands also serve as the breeding ground for more than 70 percent of the world’s black-browed albatross.
4. SOUTHERN ARIZONA
Visit this region to see as many as 250 bird species, including more than 15 kinds of hummingbirds, the elegant trogon and a painted restart. Make your way to the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area, a 49,000-acre conservation region, rich with winged wildlife thanks to careful preservation of the fragile ecosystem.