Sign up for our Newsletter

A Yellow warbler perched on a branch (credit: Gwynn Schroeder)

Peggy Lauber got into bird watching as a kid, when her father, like many dads, put out bird feeders to attract local birds. 

“He was so excited when he would see a bluejay or a cardinal,” she laughed. “I didn’t really pay that much attention but when I look back on it, I’m sure that was a big influence.” Now, Lauber is a member of the North Fork Audubon Society, a local group that aims to connect the community with the natural environment. Lauber, both with the group and on her own, goes bird watching frequently. We chatted with her to get all the tips on bird watching around the North Fork.

Sign up for a guided bird walk

The first step to bird watching is to get out and watch the birds, and the best way to do that is to tag along with someone who knows what they are doing. “The North Fork Audubon Society has regular bird walks on the first Friday of the month,” Lauber said. “During the month of May, which is when bird watching is extra great because of spring migration, we have walks every Friday.”

A Piping Plover at Orient Beach State Park (credit: Jennifer Murray).

Take advantage of the many local land preserves the North Fork has

Sure, you can watch the birds from your own backyard, but why not meet the birds in their own habitat? “You don’t have to go far on the North Fork,” Lauber said. “You could find a nice preserve within 10 minutes.” Some of her favorites are the Arshamomaque Preserve in Greenport, Dam Pond in East Marion, the North Fork Preserve in Northville and the Inlet Pond Preserve in Greenport, which is managed by the North Fork Audubon board. Each of the group’s May guided walks explores a different preserve in the area.

Listen and look

First things first, get yourself a good pair of binoculars. Those will be your eyes. Then, put yourself in a spot where the birds will be (refer to the last paragraph) and wait. “The trees are blooming, so certain birds show up because the food is here for them,” Lauber said. “You’re looking for the kinds of trees that might attract birds and the kinds of habitats that might attract birds.” In May and June, those places will be the preserves. In the winter, it might be out on the water where the shorebirds like to go.

A male red-winged blackbird singing on the reeds (credit: Gwynn Schroeder).

Just get out there (now is a good time to start)

Because of migration patterns, now is the best time to get out there when the most birds will be around. “This is the time of year that you’ll see colorful birds that you definitely don’t see other times of the year,” Lauber said. “A couple of days ago, I heard my first Baltimore Oriole. Yellow Warblers are suddenly everywhere.” She added to keep an eye out for ticks. Wear long pants, tucking them into socks. But most importantly, “just take your time and enjoy being outdoors and looking at the beautiful scenery.”