Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Spots for Bird Nerds - Travel and Birding Go Hand in Hand

Today, I am happy to share a blog guest post from Joe Laing, the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. — Karen Kefauver

Hot Spots for Bird Nerds
By Joe Laing, El Monte RV

We've all seen them -- maybe there's even one in your family. These types of travelers always have binoculars around their neck and a notebook and field guide in their pocket, eyes peeled on the forest canopy for a flash of color or a tell-tale song.

For an initiation into 'bird nerding' at its very best, take a wintertime trip through southern New Mexico. At roadside restaurants along desolate Interstate 25, you'll overhear travelers and locals carrying on about the spectacle of thousands of geese and sandhill cranes.
The hidden spots where migrating birds gather in the fall and spring, flocking in numbers that make their human visitors feel insignificant, are destinations that many RVers and weekend warriors hit the road in pursuit of finding.

Here are some of the best spots for seeing huge numbers of birds in the U.S.:

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Chen caerulescens -Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA -two-8a

This is bird country! Translating to 'woods of the Apache,' Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a sprawling, unexpected wetland oasis in the middle of New Mexico, making it a logical stop on migration routes. Literally tens of thousands of sandhill cranes descend here in late fall and remain through the winter, along with equal numbers of Arctic geese.
There's no way to explain the sound or spectacle of 20,000 or more geese in one place, stretching for what looks like miles, or the awe that 100 sandhill cranes circling down and landing in unison can inspire.

Give yourself a full day or two here, making sure to arrive before sunrise and staying for sunset, when birds return from miles around to roost for the night. Campers can set up shop at the nearby Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park, where you're bound to encounter fellow recently christened bird nerds to revel about your day's adventures.

Cape May, New Jersey
Mute Swan Cape May RWD

At the Garden State's southern tip, Cape May stretches out into the ocean like a wild, windswept expanse, belying the urban jungle that lies just up the coast. Protected as a National Wildlife Refuge, the beach and maritime forest is ground zero for migrant and nesting songbirds, including warblers, flycatchers, orioles, and vireos. Snow Geese, Tundra Swans, and several species of ducks also winter here, before the spring brings huge numbers of shorebirds. It's a premier year-round birding destination on the East Coast, with plenty of local campgrounds and RV parks to stay for a weekend or longer.

Mono Lake, California
Bird on tufa at Mono Lake-1000px

Considered to be the oldest lake in North America, Mono Lake's water is highly alkaline and far saltier than the ocean, but it still harbors billions of tiny brine shrimp. These serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet for tens of thousands of Eared Grebes and Wilson's Phalaropes that stop through on their migration route. If you're able to get on the water, the lake's volcanic islands also serve as primary rookeries for California gulls, attracting as many as 60,000 during the summer months to breed. It's a stunning but cacophonous spectacle.

Flamingo, Florida
Three Roseate spoonbills

Literally at the end of the road through the Everglades, Flamingo is aptly named, although no breeding flamingo populations still exist in the state. There are, however, plenty of tall pink birds (the real ones, not the plastic yard variety) called Roseate Spoonbills. Look out for massive wading flocks of these gorgeous, curious birds, along with huge numbers of wood storks, egrets, herons, and ibis. It's a great place to pitch a tent or park your RV and stay put for awhile -- after all, why turn around immediately when you hit the end of the road? The birds are staying put.
Have birds ever swept you off your feet? Where are your favorite places to see huge flocks of birds?

About the Author
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see