The Best Locations for Birdwatching in Vermont (14 must-see stops)

The Best Locations for Birdwatching in Vermont (14 must-see stops)

Although Vermont, the Green Mountain State, is one of the smallest states, it is packed with fantastic bird watching locations. The Green Mountains split the state from east to west, and Lake Champlain is found on its northwestern border with New York. 

This means there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, from hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and of course, visits to see the state’s famous fall foliage.

And of course, there are countless opportunities to find the very best locations for bird watching in Vermont. Here are our 14 top choices across the state.

Birds of Vermont Museum – Best Birdwatching in Burlington

Best Locations for Birdwatching in Vermont
  • Address: Birds of Vermont Museum, 900 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, Vermont 05462
  • Hours: May through October, Weds – Sun, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. November thru April, open by appointment only or for special events 
  • Cost:
    • Adults: $7
    • Seniors: $6
    • Children 3-17: $3.50
  • Birds you’ll see: Check their blog for a detailed and frequently updated list.

Just 25 minutes from downtown Burlington, the Birds of Vermont Museum is a fantastic unique birding location! 

Their remote trails have little to no cell phone service, and dogs and horses are not permitted. This affords you the best opportunity to see rare and unique wild birds. While the area has steep terrain, there are also handicap accessible trails, a pond, and garden for bird observation. 

The museum offers frequent guided bird walks where experienced birders guide visitors around the property.

The Museum itself features over 500 wooden carvings of birds that are so lifelike, you might mistake them for the real deal.

Finally, they have bird feeders including a live birdcam. If you have time, stop by the Green Mountain Audubon Center less than a mile down the road.

You might also be interested in exploring the best birdwatching spots in Guatemala!

Birdseye Wildlife Management Area – Best place to see peregrine falcons

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Peregrine Falcon
  • Address: Birdseye Rd, Poultney, VT 05764 (you’ll find pull offs for parking in Birdseye Road and Finel Hollow Road)
  • Cost: Free
  • Birds you’ll see: peregrine falcons, warblers, grouse, turkeys, thrushes, sparrows

While it may be small, the Birdseye Wildlife Management Area (formerly known as the Bird Mountain WMA) features a large rock where peregrine falcons nest each season. Get a chance to view the fastest bird in the world each spring. And when it isn’t nesting season, visitors can even climb the rock to a cliff face for even better viewing.

Related post: The best places to view hawk migrations in Vermont

Button Bay State Park

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Mallard on Lake Champlain
  • Address: Button Bay State Park, 5 Button Bay State Park Rd. Ferrisburgh, VT 05491
  • Hours: May 27 – 2nd Monday in October
  • Cost:
    • Adult (14+): $5
    • Children (4-13): $2
    • Small children (0-3): Free
  • Birds you’ll see:

At Button Bay State Park, located along Lake Champlain, you’ll find a variety of paved, gravel, and dirt hiking and biking trails. Enjoy the beautiful scenery around the lake, including hardwood forests. It may be a bit busy as this is also a popular place for families interested in camping and hiking.

The Dead Creek Wildlife Area

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
  • Address: Dead Creek Wildlife Area, 966 VT-17, Addison, VT 05491
  • Cost: free
  • Hours: May- November 
  • Birds you’ll see: over 200 species, including ducks, shorebirds, hawks, falcons, and during spring and fall migration, snow geese

At the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, you’ll find a huge variety of habitats and therefore a huge variety of birds. From clayplain forests, to wet meadows and cattail marshes, you’ll find raptors, turkeys, woodpeckers, bitterns, and more.

Along with hiking the trails, you can see birds in a canoe or kayak!

Green Mountain Audubon Center

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
A Misty Day in Vermont, photo by Tony Hisgett, courtesy of CC BY 2.0.
  • Address: Audubon Vermont, 255 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, VT 05462
  • Cost: Free, $20 donation to join the Vermont Audubon Society. 
  • Birds you’ll see: Blackburnian warbler, hermit thrush, red-eyed vireo, rose-breasted grosbeak, are the most common 

How could you visit Vermont and not stop by the Green Mountain Audubon Center? Home of the Vermont Audubon Society, it features five miles of trails through hardwood forests, hemlock swamps, and the Huntington River where you’ll discover over 100 different species of birds. 

In late winter, visit the maple syrup sugar house, wildflower garden in the summer, and of course, stunning fall foliage. 

Related post: Birdwatching Etiquette 

Herrick’s Cove

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Connecticut River
  • Address: 4 Herricks Cove Rd, Bellows Falls, VT 05101
  • Cost: free
  • Birds you’ll see: over 200 migratory bird species pass through each season, along with resident pied-billed grebes, American bitterns, sora, and Virginia rails.

Just outside Rockingham, Herrick’s Cove is at the confluence of the Williams River and Connecticut River, near Bellows Falls. It features wetlands, meadows, marshes, and floodplains. 

A variety of biomes means a variety of birds. Many migratory species stop in this area during spring and fall migration. 

Lake Champlain Birding Trail

The 300 mile long Lake Champlain Birding Trail connects 88 bird watching locations in Vermont and New York. You can find a map here. Here are some of the stops in Vermont:

LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Photo by Martin Geissinger, under of CC BY 3.0.
  • Address: Laplatte River Marsh Natural Area, Bay Rd, Shelburne, VT 05482
  • Cost: free
  • Birds you’ll see: common mergansers, black crowned night herons, kingfishers, ospreys, blue herons

The LaPlatte River ends at Lake Champlain at the Laplatte River Marsh Natural Area, while its source is 16 miles away in Lake Iroquois. Over sixty different birds make their home here and hundreds more migrate through each spring and fall. 

Bring a canoe or kayak and paddle the waterways to discover waterfowl. Or hike the 1 mile trail to visit ten different stations throughout a variety of ecosystems. 

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge – The best birdwatching location in Vermont to find an endangered species

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Missisquoi Fall Foliage
  • Address: 29 Tabor Road Swanton, VT 05488-8159
  • Cost:
  • Hours: Open year round, dawn to dusk
  • Birds you’ll see: wood ducks, mallards, green-winged teals, ring-neck ducks, bobolinks, meadowlarks, bitterns, snipes, and the endangered black tern

The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge was established as a habitat for migratory birds. It features five pedestrian trails with boardwalks covering 7.5 miles, two boat ramps, and a Jeep trail you can use to explore the wetlands around the Missisquoi River and Lake Champlain. 

Many birders search for the black tern, an endangered bird. These birds nest in floating mats, and raise their young within the Missiquoi refuge. Or visit on the third Saturday in May for International Migratory Bird Day, park open house, and exhibits from local artists and photographers.

Moose Bog, Wenlock Wildlife Refuge – The flattest park in Vermont

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
  • Address: 05846 VT-105, Island Pond, VT 05846
  • Cost: free
  • Birds you’ll see: ring necked ducks, black ducks, mallard ducks, hooded mergansers, spruce grouse, black-backed woodpeckers, gray jays, Cape May warblers

At the Moose Bog portion of the Wenlock Wildlife Refuge, you’ll find over 2,500 acres of wilderness. This site used to house logging operations and a steam-powered saw mill. Some logging occurs on the lands near the refuge, but the refuge itself has returned to wilderness. 

In addition to the species above, you’ll find ruffed grouse, rusty blackbirds, blackpoll warblers, and whitewinged crossbills. And you may be lucky enough to spot a raptor like a goshawk, marsh hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, barred owl, or great horned owl.

Unlike many of the other birding sites in Vermont, Moose Bog features level terrain. And this portion of the park is boreal forest, meaning you’ll see some different species than you will around Lake Champlain.

North Branch Nature Center – The best birding in Montpelier, Vermont 

  • Address: North Branch River Park, 58 Barre St, Montpelier, VT 05602 
  • Cost: Free, open 24/7
  • Birds you’ll see: American redstarts, savannah sparrows, belted kingfishers, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, ruffed grouse, American woodcocks

Just 2 miles from downtown Montpelier, you’ll discover the North Branch Nature Center, and miles of hiking trails from flat to hilly

Each spring, they offer a birding course for all areas of expertise. 

And if you visit on Friday mornings, be sure to join a guided bird walk (free for members). Or sign up for a tour of the best birding spots in Vermont, or even an international birding trip.

Pomainville Wildlife Management Area

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Otter Creek, Vermont
  • Address: 7551 US-7 #7417, Sudbury, VT 05733
  • Cost: Free
  • Birds you’ll see: mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, bittern, bobolinks, meadowlarks, savannah sparrows, wild turkeys

Visit Pomainville Wildlife Management Area along the banks of Otter Creek and walk old farm roads. You’ll see nesting grassland birds, and maybe bats, and a variety of turtles, frogs, salamanders, and newts.

Related post: Best Spots for Birdwatching in Alaska

West Rutland Marsh – The best place to find a Least Bittern

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont
Male least bittern
  • Address: West Rutland Marsh, Water St, West Rutland, VT 05777
  • Cost: Free
  • Birds you’ll see: Virginia rails, sora, American bitterns, marsh wrens, least bitterns, winter wrens, red-breasted nuthatches, bluebirds, tree swallows, cedar waxwings, sedge wrens. 

West Rutland Marsh has been designated an Important Bird Area of Vermont. Two boardwalks span this wetland, as well as Hemlock Island, and a wet meadow. 

Woodside Natural Area

  • Address: Woodside Natural Area, Woodside Dr, South Burlington, VT 05403
  • Cost:free
  • Birds you’ll see: eastern wood pewees, wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, Baltimore orioles

The Woodside Natural Area is a birding hotspot in Vermont. It features a one mile loop trail around a beaver dam, wetland, and pond, where you’ll certainly see a variety of bird species in a compact area.

Related post: Best Places for Birdwatching in Delaware

Frequently asked questions about birdwatching in Vermont 

best locations for birdwatching in Vermont

What month is best for birdwatching in Vermont?

May is the best month for birdwatching in Vermont as migratory species pass through on their journey south.
However, you’ll find many bird species throughout the spring and summer. 
If you prefer visiting Vermont in the fall, September and October are spectacular for viewing birds as they migrate north for the winter, as well as Vermont’s famous fall foliage. However, you may encounter a large number of tourists during this time.

What months should I avoid birdwatching in Vermont?

You may want to avoid visiting wild areas for birdwatching in Vermont during hunting season in November.
“Mud Season” in March and April may not be the best time to visit Vermont, either. The spring thaw means that unpaved areas, such as park access roads, or hiking trails may become undriveable, or very difficult to hike.
If you plan to visit Vermont in the winter, be sure to dress appropriately for the cold weather.

What other things should I see and do when I visit Vermont?

Vermont’s plethora of wilderness areas make it the perfect place for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking

Visit the Bird House Forest on Grand Isle in Lake Champlain

Tour the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, VT

Sample the famous local cheddar cheeses and maple syrup

Take a boat cruise on Lake Champlain. Tours leave from Burlington and other areas

Resources for Birding in Vermont