Bicknell's & Boreal Birds

Northern Vermont

3-5 July 2020 (Weekend Tour)

Price: $850 (includes lodging & meals)

Single Supplement: $175

Species List

Bicknell's Thrush -  Jim Mead

Bicknell's Thrush - Jim Mead

This weekend tour packs in a lot of birds in a short period of time.  Based from the legendary ski resort, Jay Peak, the tour explores a diversity of habitats from lush Green Mountain deciduous forest, mountaintop spruce-fir, boreal forest, grasslands, marsh, and Lake Champlain. The tour begins in Burlington, Vermont on Friday afternoon, and ascends up to Jay Peak.  After a slope-side barbecue, we’ll take a sunset tram ride to take in the dusk chorus of Bicknell’s Thrush.  On Saturday, we’ll explore the Northeast Kingdom’s lowlands in search of boreal specialists such as Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay, Rusty Blackbird, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers among others.  On Sunday morning, we’ll explore some lovely rolling grasslands searching for Upland Sandpiper, and Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows. We’ll also visit breeding grounds of Black Terns and Caspian Terns.  The tour features an abundance of breeding warblers throughout including Mourning, Canada, Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, and Magnolia Warblers.  The Jay Peak resort acts as a perfect base, providing easy access to Bicknell’s Thrush habitat, and being centrally located to explore several distinct habitats.  Plus we’ll be surrounded by spectacular Green Mountain scenery, and have excellent accommodations, great food, and outstanding local Vermont beers on tap.

This tour is led by top-notch bird guide Dr. David Hof, Ph.D.


Blackpoll Warbler -  Tyler Pockette

Blackpoll Warbler - Tyler Pockette

Day 1 (5 July):  The tour begins in Burlington, VT, and once everyone has arrived we’ll head up to the mountains to our base at Jay Peak.  Meeting the tour group at Jay Peak is also an option.  Depending on our arrival time, we may have the opportunity for some late afternoon birding in the lush surrounding forest featuring Black-throated Blue and Blackburnian Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Indigo Buntings.  We’ll enjoy a slope-side barbecue, and then set out on a Tram Ride to Jay Peak’s summit, taking in the sunset and the breathtaking views of Vermont’s Green Mountain landscape.  The stunted spruce-fir forest at the summit is excellent for viewing the secretive mountaintop specialist Bicknell’s Thrush, and to be serenaded by their ethereal dusk chorus, along with Swainson’s Thrush and others.  The habitat here also features breeding Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, and Blackpoll Warblers singing their ventriloquial songs. Night at Jay Peak Resort, VT.

Spruce Grouse -  Keenan Yakola

Spruce Grouse - Keenan Yakola

Day 2 (6 July):  In the morning we’ll descend east from the mountains into the heart of the region known as the Northeast Kingdom, named for its remarkable and distinct beauty. This region is superb for boreal specialists, our primary focus for the day.  We’ll look for the resident species - Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay, and Boreal Chickadee, and several northerly breeding migrants such as Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird.  The area also hosts an abundance of warblers including Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Nashville, Mourning, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, “Yellow” Palm, Black-throated Green, and Canada Warblers.  The area can also be good for finches including Purple Finch, Red and White-winged Crossbills, and Pine Siskin.  Other species in the area include Ruffed Grouse, Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Bank Swallow, and Winter Wren.  Night at Jay Peak Resort, VT.

Black Tern -  Tyler Pockette

Black Tern - Tyler Pockette

Day 3 (7 July):  We’ll descend from the mountains in the opposite direction (west) into the beautiful rolling countryside near the Canadian border.  We’ll start off exploring grasslands, searching for Upland Sandpipers while enjoying the displays of Bobolinks and songs of Eastern Meadowlarks.  The grasslands here are typically reliable for an array of sparrows – Grasshopper, Vesper, Savannah, and Field Sparrows.  We’ll then visit the area around Mississquoi National Wildlife Refuge, situated near the top of Vermont’s lovely Lake Champlain, and home to breeding Black Terns and Caspian Terns among many others.  We’ll make one last stop at a prime location for viewing Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers.  Other likely species on the day include Willow and Alder Flycatchers, Cliff Swallow, Purple Martin, Marsh Wren, Wood Thrush, Veery, Eastern Towhee, and possibly Bitterns and Rails.  We’ll head back to Burlington, and the tour concludes in Burlington in the early afternoon.  Rides are available back to Jay Peak, if needed.

Mourning Warbler -  Tyler Pockette

Mourning Warbler - Tyler Pockette

Golden-winged Warbler -  Tyler Pockette

Golden-winged Warbler - Tyler Pockette