Birding on the Road

Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Credit: John and Karen

Planning a vacation or business trip? Include a visit to a national wildlife refuge on your itinerary. Get off the beaten path and explore the woodlands, prairies, seashores, and marshes that form North America's premiere wildlife habitats.

Some refuges are near typical vacation destinations – consider a refuge visit on your next trip to Florida or California. If you're traveling along the east or west coast, look for refuges along your way – they are frequently located in areas that historically featured huge concentrations of shorebirds, waterfowl, or other birds. The Great Plains highlight small wetlands that are the nursery for many duck species. Going on a car trip? Many refuges are located along America's Scenic Byways and designated birding trails.

Meander along a wetland boardwalk looking for elusive marsh birds or wading birds. Hike a rocky canyon for canyon wrens and roadrunners. Drive an auto tour route and enjoy viewing from your vehicle. Or just get out on a viewing deck and look for pintails, shovelers or cinnamon teal. Check at the Visitor Center or office to check on what's been sighted lately. They'll direct you to your best opportunities to see a vermillion flycatcher or American avocet.

If you're a birder who's also a full or part time RVer, you may want to check into resident volunteer programs on refuges. Many refuges offer sites, hookups and other amenities to people who commit to volunteering for a specified period of time. Volunteer opportunities may be easy or strenuous. Help visitors ID birds they've seen. Help maintain the habitats birds depend on. Maintain visitor facilities. For more information go to