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State of Connecticut

American Robin
American Robin Turdus migratorius ©Doug Rodda Website

Birding Connecticut

For the third smallest state in the US, Connecticut has a wide variety of habitat, and subsequently, birds. A really dedicated and lucky birder could find up to 290 species in one year in a state that lists 406 as the total number of species. Coastal lowlands border the Long Island Sound, a large salt water estuary that is fed fresh water from large rivers such as the Connecticut, Housatonic and Thames. These coastal areas are rest stops for a great number of shorebirds as they wend their way up to their breeding grounds and down their winter homes. There are well over 250 species of regularly occurring birds that can be seen along the coast. Nesters in this group include the endangered Piping Plover, Least Tern, and, on Falkner's Island right off the coast, Roseate Terns.

In the spring, around mid May, migration is in full swing and birds ascend upon this state with great fervour. Thirty-six species of warbler have been recorded, and 33 drop in typically, twenty-five of them staying to breed. The Northwest Hills of the state are home to a number of rarities at this time and are included in every birder's big day. River Road in Kent, is one of the best places to catch the land birds, representing a good variety of flycatchers, thrushes, and warblers. The Northeast corner is also home to some of the more northern-driven birds.

Connecticut was largely an agricultural state up to the late 1880s. But as farming waned, many of the fields reverted to woodland. Evidence of this history is found in the countless stone walls running throughout the state's wooded lands. Hardwood trees such as the black, red and white oaks dominate. The drumming of any one of 6 of the 7 woodpeckers that make these woods their home can be heard, occasionally joined by the pee-a-weee of the Eastern Wood Pewee, the nasal anking of White-breasted Nuthatches, and the scolding of Tufted Titmice.

Winter is the ideal time for seeing waterfowl off the coast. As the inland waters in the surrounding areas freeze, scores of ducks, loons, grebes, and geese make their way to the open sound. One of the big winter shows occurs along the southern end of the Connecticut River, where Bald Eagles, also driven Southeast by frozen water, can be found all along the shores of the waterway.

Birding is a very popular pastime in Connecticut, with at least four local bird clubs (including New Haven Bird Club, Western Connecticut Bird Club, Nachaug Ornithological Society & Hartford Audubon Society - not a branch of National Society - which is one of themost active clubs in the state, having the most field trips); and the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA). The COA maintains the rare bird alert (203-254-3665) and publishes the quarterly The Connecticut Warbler, a journal of Connecticut ornithology. The New Haven Bird Club created and sponsors the BIG SIT!, a world-wide sedentary birding competition. There are also 14 local branches of the National Audubon society, a number of nature centres, and the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Contributor

John Himmelman

Killingworth, CT USA

jhimmel@comcast.net

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 440

(As at October 2018)

State Bird - American Robin Turdus migratorius

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

Birding in Connecticut

By Frank Gallo | Wesleyan University Press | 2018 | Paperback | 532 pages, 50 colour photos, 56 colour maps |

ISBN: 9780819576354

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Connecticut Field Guide

by Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2000 | Paperback | 316 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781885061935

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Connecticut Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2002 | Unbound | colour illustrations |

ISBN: 1583551395

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Connecticut

Edited by LR Bevier & M DiGiorgio | Connecticut Dept of Environmental Protection | 1994 | Hardback | 461 pages, illustrations, maps |

ISBN: 0942081056

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Audubon Connecticut

Website

Audubon Connecticut is a leader in bird conservation throughout the state. Along with our members, supporters, and partners, we work together for birds, nature, and people.

Audubon Greenwich

Website

Audubon Greenwich encompasses seven nature sanctuaries and a vibrant education center and nature store in Greenwich, Connecticut. Part of Audubon Connecticut, a state office of the National Audubon Society, and the Atlantic Flyway, Audubon Greenwich serves as the hub for Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities work in Connecticut.

Audubon Sharon

Website

Audubon Sharon encompasses four nature sanctuaries and 3,000 acres in Northwestern Connecticut, an education center, and a Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic that is part of Audubon Connecticut, a state office of the National Audubon Society, and the Atlantic Flyway. Audubon Sharon serves as the hub for Audubon’s Forests conservation work in Connecticut.

Audubon Society in Connecticut

Webpage

Offices & Chapters; Centers & Sanctuaries etc.

Avian Records Committee of Connecticut

Webpage

The ARCC (hereafter referred to as “the committee”) consists of twelve members who serve three year terms following nomination and election by the committee and approval of the COA Board of Directors. A member may serve multiple consecutive terms. The committee has a chairperson as well a secretary. All members vote

Connecticut Ornithological Association

Website

The Connecticut Ornithological Association is the only statewide organization devoted to birds and birding in Connecticut. Since its founding in 1981, its membership has grown to well over 500 people who range from beginning birders to professional ornithologists.

Darien Nature Center

Website

The Darien Nature Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality educational programs to the families in our community, for the purpose of fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

Hartford Audubon Society

Website

The Hartford Audubon Society was founded in 1909 as a non profit organization. The purpose of the Society is to foster and promote public interest in conservation of our wildlife and other natural resources, and the study and protection of birds. It may hold title to land for use as wildlife sanctuaries.

Litchfield Hills Audubon Society

Webpage

The mission of the Litchfield Hills Audubon society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystem, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitat, for the benefit of the community, through conservation, education and research.

Mattabeseck Audubon Society

Website

The Mattabeseck Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, is committed to environmental leadership and education for the benefit of the community and the earth's biodiversity.

Menunkatuck Audubon Society

Website

The Chapter serves the towns of Madison, Guilford, Branford, East Haven, New Haven, and West Haven, Connecticut. Menunkatuck Audubon Society is committed to work locally to preserve our natural ecosystems for the benefit of people and the earth’s biodiversity. Through education and conservation activities within our communities, we raise public awareness of environmental issues and connections to the natural world.

Natchaug Ornithological Society

Website

The idea for a local bird club originated with a subgroup of the Storrs Women's Club. After a few years there was so much interest that a separate group, open to all, was formed. The first meeting was held June 26, 1956. Subsequent meetings resulted in the formation of the Natchaug Ornithological Society. Since its beginning, the Society has remained active in the local birding community, providing a venue for both novice and expert birders. In 1975 total membership was over 100. In recent years membership has held steady at about 80. The society has upheld throughout its existence a tradition of providing local birders with lively programs during its monthly meetings, numerous field trips to birding hot spots both local and distant, and opportunities to participate in censusing and research efforts through such activities as the May and Christmas counts and bird banding.

Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

Website

Our promise to the world is to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. With your help, it will be kept.

Naugatuck Valley Audubon

Website

Our Mission: Promote the appreciation, conservation and restoration of ecosystems; focusing locally on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through education, science, stewardship and advocacy.…

New Canaan Nature Center

Website

The New Canaan Nature Center is a not-for-profit environmental education organization dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to respect, protect, and enjoy the world of nature. Our vision is to be recognized as a leader in environmental education, stewardship of natural resources and service to the community.

New Haven Bird Club

Website

We hope to provide an up-to-date resource of what's happening at the New Haven Bird Club and in the woods, fields, sky and beaches around the New Haven area. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop us a line at ask.nhbc@gmail.com.

Potapaug Audubon

Website

Potapaug serves the towns around the mouth of the Connecticut River. TShey include: (starting east) Niantic, East Lyme, Old Lyme, Lyme, East Haddam, Salem, Colchester, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, Westbrook, Clinton and Killingworth.

Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society

Facebook Page

A chapter of the National Audubon Society serving the towns of Meriden, Wallingford, Cheshire, Hamden, North Haven, North Branford and Northford. The Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. Support comes from some membership dues and donations made by individuals, corporations and foundations.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

IBA Stratford Great Meadows

Webpage

Satellite View

The Great Meadows estuarine system, located on Stratford's West Shore, East of Bridgeport Harbor, is comprised of barrier beach, ditched and unditched saltmarsh, filled wetland and upland. About sixty percent of the marsh is low marsh dominated by saltmarsh cordgrass, and forty percent is high marsh with saltmeadow cordgrass. The area also has several small fresh or brackish ponds, salt pannes and tidal mud and sand flats. The area contains the largest block of unditched saltmarsh (about 225 acres) left in Connecticut. Great Meadows Marsh is a significant over-wintering area for waterfowl, especially Black Ducks. The rare Snowy Owl, threatened Short-eared Owl, and special concern Ipswich Sparrow, can also be found wintering here. It is a critical nesting habitat for special concern species Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed and Seaside Sparrow, Willet, and the threatened Least Tern and Piping Plover.

National Parks - Connecticut

Webpage

Appalachian National Scenic Trail. This 2,158-mile footpath runs from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, traversing 14 states…

NR Devil's Den Preserve

Webpage

Satellite View

At 1,756 acres, Devil's Den is the Conservancy's largest preserve in Connecticut. Here, with your help, the Conservancy has protected a valuable oasis for wildlife and a natural filter for thousands of people who need clean water. Its patchwork of woodlands, wetlands and rock ledges and a series of north-south ridges and valleys woven with streams and swamps make the Devil's Den ideal for low-impact outdoor activities such as hiking and bird watching.

NR Long Wharf Nature Preserve

Webpage

Satellite View

Just off I-95 and fronting on New Haven Harbor, this preserve is the result of human disturbance and the resilience of nature. The upland, created by filling, evolved into a grassland and a small woodland dominated by tall cottonwood trees, almost all the result of natural seed dispersion. The tidal wetland and dune area accreted over the 50 years since I-95 was constructed. At low tide, the preserve encompasses approximately 15 acres, from mud flat to dune to salt marsh to upland. A loop trail connecting the shore and upland and leads to the historic Oyster Point neighborhood.

NR Trout Brook Valley Preserve

Information

Satellite View

Trout Brook Valley State Park Reserve is a 300-acre (120 ha) parcel owned by the state of Connecticut that is part of the larger Trout Brook Valley Preserve (also known as the Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area), located in Easton, Connecticut.

NS Audubon Center Bent of the River

Webpage

Satellite View

Audubon Center Bent of the River is a 700-acre nature sanctuary and education center located in Southbury, Connecticut. It is part of Audubon Connecticut (a state office of the National Audubon Society) and the Atlantic Flyway, and is dedicated to Audubon's open space and working lands conservation efforts in Connecticut.

NS Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary

Webpage

Satellite View

Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary is located in Guilford, Connecticut along the East River, a tidal river that flows into Long Island Sound. The tidal wetlands that form the heart of the Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary are a remnant of the great salt and brackish water marshes that once extended nearly continuously along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Georgia. These wetlands support specialized saltmarsh vegetation and animal life. They also provide vital refueling and nesting stops for thousands of migratory birds.

NWR IBA Stewart B McKinney

Webpage

Satellite View

Situated on Murdock Hill, near the mouth of the Menunketesuck River at the junction of Gatchen Creek, Salt Meadow Unit serves as the visitors center and headquarters of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR. This former estate is owned by the USFWS. It contains habitats ranging from Spartina patens-dominated high -salt meadow- marsh to mature deciduous forest with some areas of upland fields, scrub and young deciduous forest. Some of the habitat is managed to provide a variety of second growth stages for diversity of habitats. The area is one of the most important fall migratory stopover areas for Neotropical migrant landbirds in Connecticut providing important habitat for many species of migrant songbirds. At least 29 species of warblers have been recorded in fall migration.

SP Hammonasset Beach

Webpage

Satellite View

Hammonasset Beach State Park was created and the first land purchased in 1919. One of the last and most important additions was the purchase of 339 acres of Meigs' Point. The park borders Long Island Sound for about 10,000 feet and the Hammonasset River for about 5000 feet. The habitat consists of approx. 600 acres of salt marsh; 300 acres of grass parking and camping areas and about 100 acres of young forest upland. The unique location of several of the upland areas within the marsh and grassland peninsula creates an effective migrant trap.

WMA Barn Island

Webpage

Satellite View

Barn Island Wildlife Management Area consists of approximately 1000 acres of land in the extreme southeast corner of the state, in a protected enclave sheltered by headlands. It is the largest coastal wildlife management area in the state. The habitat is dominated by 540 acres of deciduous forest and 290 acres of tidal marshes, but there are also significant areas of open salt water, four waterfowl impoundments, and coastal scrub woodlands and thickets. The Barn Island area is popular with birders. Barn Island and the recently acquired 144-acre addition provide nesting, and/or feeding habitats for several state-listed species of birds, including Seaside and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, Willet, and King Rail. Barn Island also provides feeding habitats for Great and Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibis, and Little Blue Heron, and Common and Least Terns, and supports wintering populations of Short-eared Owl and "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrows. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows are listed as "near-threatened" by BirdLife International, and as such, any site that supports 10 or more pairs or 30 or more individuals of any near-threatened species would meet the criteria of a globally significant site.

WMA IBA Charles E Wheeler

Webpage

Satellite View

Wheeler marsh is an ~615 acre Spartina alterniflora-dominated low salt marsh at the mouth of the Housatonic River, and is a wildlife management area managed by the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for waterfowl and marsh bird hunting and the benefit of other wildlife.

WMA IBA Quinnipiac

Webpage

Satellite View

900 acres of the tidal marsh is owned by the State of Connecticut and managed by the Department of Environmental Protection as a Wildlife Management Area; 14 additional acres are owned by the Hamden Land Trust. The Quinnipiac River originates in the Deadwood Swamp on the New Britain/Farmington border, and flows 38 miles to New Haven Harbor. The tidal salt marsh is south of Sackett Point Road, North Haven, and is influenced by the daily rise and fall of the tide. The marsh serves as a significant population of nesting Osprey (10 pairs), significant wintering area for Northern Harrier (3-4 birds), and one of few known nesting locations for Common Moorhen and Least Bittern in Connecticut. The marsh is a nesting and wintering area for American Black Ducks, and a nesting area for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow (unknown size of population). The marsh has been a significant roosting area for mixed flocks of blackbirds in the spring and fall migrations, including Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.

WS Helen Carlson Wildlife Sanctuary

Facebook Page

Satellite View

The bog is owned and maintained by the Mattabeseck Audubon Society. Observe the natural diversity of this unique site and sign the register in the booth at the head of the trail.

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Museums

Birds of Connecticut Exhibition

Webpage

Of the approximately 10,000 species of birds in the world, 957 have been recorded in North America north of Mexico, and 421 in Connecticut…

Museum - Peabody Museum - Yale

Webpage

The Ornithology collection at the Peabody Museum is among the most comprehensive in North America, and has international significance in several areas including skeletal and pickled (wet preserves) specimens. Overall, the collection contains material for more than 6,500 species, over 70 percent of the birds of the world. The old Yale University collection of some 6,000 to 8,000 skins has grown to over 100,000 since 1950. There is excellent taxonomic coverage and good geographic coverage. The skeleton collection contains just over 9,000 specimens representing about 1,900 species. The collection of wet preserves contains approximately 13,000 specimens. Ornithology Library: the ornithology collection also has an extensive affiliated library containing books and journals…

University of Connecticut Bird Collection

Webpage

The collection began with the donation of study skins, (dated between 1875 to 1925) from the private collections of J.H. Sage and W.E. Treat, and emphasizes the fauna of Connecticut and the northeastern U.S. There are also specimens from the Aleutian islands, Paraguay, and other areas. The study skin collection holds more Connecticut specimens than any other in the world…

Blogs

Bob M Pelkey - A New England Wildlife Blog

BLOG

Welcome! It's good to have you here. I hope that you find your visits informative and entertaining. This blog is updated randomly, primarily on the subject of wildlife observation in the states of Connecticut and Florida.

Connecticut Ornithological Association search this site...

BLOG

Visit our blog frequently to keep up to date with everything happening at the Connecticut Ornithological Association as well as Connecticut birds and birding. You will find more information on events, publications, educational opportunities, conservation issues plus photos and videos of rare or memorable birds seen by our members.

Jesús Tirado - Look-A-Seagull

BLOG

Last updated July 2015 - A blog by a Southeastern Birder who is exploring new territory!

Larry - The Brownstone Birding BLOG

BLOG

A Connecticut native with an interest in birding shares his outdoor adventures.

Larry Flynn - Long-tails

BLOG

Last updated February 2015 - Born in Norwalk, CT.I grew up just a few blocks from the Harbor. As a young boy in the late 50's I would catch winter flounder with my Mother, using drop lines from one the old docks off Water Street, we caught our own bait, catching nightcrawlers in our yard after dark.

Nick Bonomo - Shorebirder

BLOG

Orthopaedic Surgery PA since 2010. When I'm not roaming the halls of a Connecticut hospital, I can be found birding the coast of New Haven County, traveling, catching up on sleep, fishing Long Island Sound, or watching the Mets blow a 5-run lead.

Paul Cianfaglione - Avian Musings

BLOG

'going beyond the field mark' - This blog details research on topics of ornithology, avian osteology and paleornithology. The aim is to provide the best available information, to you the independent thinker, from online journals and papers, as well as my own personal library. In the end, hoping to make avian science an inclusionary, and positive learning experience.

Vanessa Mickan - Bird Life

BLOG

Last updated November 2012 - I am a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and editor. Born and educated in Australia, I now live in Milford, Connecticut, just northeast of New York City.

Vincent Mistretta - Vincent Mistretta Photography

BLOG

I enjoy traveling and constantly update the list of places I would like to visit. I have had the pleasure of visiting many locations and observing many cultures. No matter how many trips I take, I am always amazed by the wonders of our planet. There is nothing like the feelings associated with capturing light, an expression, a gesture or color in an image. An image does not just capture a moment in time, it should tell a visual story

Other Links

Birds of New England

Website

Some excellent photographs… Over 200 species of birds either breed, are resident, or winter in New England. This includes both inland birds and coastal birds. Some of these birds have a small New England range (for example, the Acadian Flycatcher) and other birds are found throughout the region…

Connecticut Birding

Website

ConnecticutBirding.com has been established to provide those interested in birding in Connecticut with information to assist them in making their birding time more fun and productive.

Connecticut Birds

Website

Connecticutbirds.com serves the backyard bird enthusiast of Connecticut. If you enjoy feeding and watching birds in your yard or local park then we hope to provide you with information to enhance the enjoyment of your hobby…

List of birds of Connecticut

Webpage

This list of birds of Connecticut is a comprehensive listing of all the bird species recorded from the U.S. state of Connecticut. Unless otherwise noted, this list is based on the checklist produced by the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut (ARCC) dated 24 June 2017, the list used by most birders to objectively evaluate species recorded in the state.

The Audubon Shop

Website

The Audubon Shop is the original birding store in Connecticut, established in 1986. Owned and operated by Janet and Jerry Connolly, we are located in an historic home on the Post Road in Madison, a town situated on Long Island Sound. A stone’s throw east of us is Hammonasset Beach State Park, one of the best birding sites in the state and one of the most significant breeding and migratory bird stopover areas on the Atlantic Coast. Our seasonal bird walks are listed under Bird Walks and talks on our home page.

The Fat Robin - Wild Bird & Nature Shop

Website

The Fat Robin is a family owned and operated business now in its 15th year! We specialize in providing quality products for bird feeding and birding as well as unique gifts for those who love nature…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Jim Zipp

Gallery

Jim's award winning photography is published regularly and has been featured in hundreds of publications from National Geographic, Time Magazine, GEO and Audubon to Birder's World, Wildbird, Discovery, Nature Conservancy and ABA's Birding Magazine to name a few…

Photographer - T D Rodda

Gallery

Some very fine bird pictures from Connecticut and beyond…