Diverse woodland habitats, pristine wetlands and expansive shorelines make Oswego County an excellent year-round birding area. With five locations listed as “Important Bird Areas” with Audubon New York, a state office of the National Audubon Society, there are plenty of sites for bird watching in Oswego County!

At Derby Hill Bird Observatory, migrating raptors, waterfowl and songbirds soar above the bluff overlooking the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. Derby Hill is one of the best spring hawk watching sites in North America, with upwards of 2,000 raptors commonly making an appearance each day in mid-April. Derby Hill Bird Observatory is also home to unusual sightings of rare birds, including white-tailed eagles, swallow-tailed kites, gyrfalcons, eastern bluebirds, snow geese and more.

Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area is a diverse habitat of ponds, fields and forests where birders can spot woodland birds, songbirds and some waterfowl and raptor species. Toad Harbor Swamp is a wetland area on the north shore of Oneida Lake consisting of marsh habitats, beaver ponds, upland woods and more. Due to the mix of habitats, numerous at-risk species are supported here, such as the pied-billed grebe, American bittern, osprey, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk and many others.

Oneida Lake Islands consist of three small islands where common terns have nested since at least the 1930s. The area attracts thousands of ducks, brant and white-winged scoters each year. The Eastern Lake Ontario Barrier Beaches encompass Oswego County, extending from the Little Salmon River north to Black River and east to State Route 3. Home to the remains of one of the largest inland dune systems in the Eastern Great Lakes, the site also includes significant wetlands such as the Deer Creek Wildlife Management Area and the Sandy Pond Beach Unique Area. The wetland complex is able to support various migrating and breeding species, including the American black duck, common loon, black tern, sedge wren and many more.

A variety of bird species can be found along the Oswego River Canal, such as the elusive osprey and bald eagle. Migratory waterfowl and gulls congregate in the Oswego Harbor and near the dams in Oswego, Minetto, Fulton and Phoenix.

No matter what species you’re searching for, birding is one of the top unique things to do in Oswego, NY and beyond!