5 Weird places birders go to find birds

Birding is a past time that can take you to some of the most amazing and beautiful places on planet earth. Between state parks, national wildlife refuges, and pristine wilderness, there is no end to the breathtaking habitats that birds call home. However, birds don’t always turn up in the most secluded places, and instead flock to where they can find food and shelter. For this reason, the quest for birds can take those who seek them out to some extremely strange places. Here are the top 5 weird places birders go to find birds.

5. Roadsides

Horned Lark along the side of a country road

Every birder has had the experience of spotting a bird from their car. Birds frequently hang out along the sides of roads taking advantage of edge habitat and high perches making it easy to spot prey. In many instances, the actual side of the road is a great place for birds to find insects and seeds. In winter, plows clear snow and churn up the substrate, allowing birds that forage along the ground access to an easy meal. Sparrows, finches, grouse, longspurs, Horned Larks and more can all be found along roadsides as they forage. Not only are road sides great places for birds, but the option to go birding by car makes it easy to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of different habitats, even though it’s not a place many non birders would expect to find birds.

4. Sod Farms

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Photo by Bill Grossmeyer)

Farms in general are a great place to find birds. With an abundance of food, flooded fields, and a lot of open space, it’s no wonder birds frequent these areas. Of the different types of farms, the most specific and strange place to find birds is the sod farm. During fall, these farms play host to shorebirds migrating down from the north including black-bellied plovers, American golden plovers, and buff breasted sandpipers. In addition to these species, other birds that frequent agricultural fields and open spaces can also be found roaming the turf, making it a fun and ecclectic place to go birding..

3. Cemeteries

White-winged Crossbills

At first glance a cemetery may not seem like a place that birds would frequent, but it’s not about the cemetery itself, rather what’s planted there. Many cemeteries have decorative fruit trees or small groves of pines. The fruit trees can draw in birds like robins and waxwings, as well as winter migrants like Pine Grosbeaks looking for a meal. Pines can bring in species like Red-breasted Nuthatches, crossbills and other cone feeders. Although it may sound a bit odd to spend your free time lurking around a cemetery, if the right trees are planted there, they can be havens for some fascinating birds.

2. Stranger’s Houses

Rufous Hummingbird visiting a bird feeder

Most people that have been birding for a while have been involved in a home feeder stake out situation. The event usually plays out like this: A homeowner reports a rarity visiting their feeder, word gets out that the homeowner is allowing visitors, and birders from all over the region come to see the rare bird. Many times, homeowners are extremely welcoming and enjoy meeting the birders that come to visit. Even so, when you think about sitting in your car and spying on a strangers bird feeder, the idea is pretty weird. 

1. Landfills

Gulls gathering just outside of a landfill

Out of all the strange places to find birds, there is none more out of left field than the dump. As it turns out, a lot of opportunistic bird species find the food scraps in the garbage to be a convenient food source. These species include crows, ravens, eagles, and most of all gulls. In fact, landfills are one of the best places to find large groups of gulls including some that are considered regionally rare. While it’s certainly not an appealing or beautiful place to bird, the dump can serve as an important spot to find a variety of species.

 Did you agree with our list? Is there another strange place to bird that we left off? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel.

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