12 Best Hiking Trails in the Catskills for Bird Watching and Mesmerizing Views

Catskill Mountains for Bird Watching
Discover the 12 best hiking trails in the Catskills for bird lovers and scenic views. Explore vibrant avian wonders and stunning landscapes. Dive in!

Calling all bird lovers and hiking enthusiasts! The Catskills are calling, and it’s time to embark on an unforgettable journey through some of the most scenic and bird-rich trails in the region.

Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just looking to enjoy a peaceful hike with stunning views, we’ve got the perfect trails lined up for you.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the 12 best hiking trails in the Catskills, each offering unique bird watching opportunities and breathtaking landscapes.

So grab your binoculars and hiking boots, and get ready to explore the vibrant avian world and mesmerizing views of the Catskills!

Here are the 12 Best Hiking Trails in the Catskills for Birders like us!

The Catskills resonate with the songs of diverse birds, making it a haven for enthusiasts. 

From the serene Echo Lake Trail with its warbler melodies to the challenging Blackhead Range, where raptors dominate the skies, there’s a path for every birder. 

Slide Mountain’s dense woods house secretive thrushes, while the Overlook Mountain offers glimpses of vibrant bluebirds. 

The trails at North-South Lake mesmerize with the chorus of sparrows and vireos. 

For those seeking a remote feel, the Escarpment and Balsam Lake trails provide undisturbed birding moments. 

Step into the Catskills, binoculars in hand, and embark on a feathery adventure!

The Escarpment Trail

Stretching 23 miles across the Catskill Mountains, the Escarpment Trail is a haven for nature lovers. As you hike, you’ll get front-row seats to the Hudson River Valley’s beauty and the Catskill’s towering peaks

The Escarpment Trail real

Even if you’re a newbie to hiking, this trail is friendly enough for you to find your way.

While trekking, keep your ears and eyes open. The chirps of Eastern Bluebirds, Red-Eyed Vireos, the calls of Eastern Towhees, or the watchful eyes of Red-Tailed Hawks might catch your attention. And who knows? You might even spot woodpeckers busily tapping away.

Along your journey, there’s no shortage of detours for some extra adventure. Wander off to state parks like Kaaterskill Falls or the Slide Mountain Wilderness for more breathtaking views. 

Curious side trails might lead you to old fire towers or forgotten mines, each telling a story of its own.

So, whether you’re a hiking pro or just wearing in your first pair of boots, the Escarpment Trail promises a memorable adventure amidst the whispers of the Catskill Mountains.

Overlook Mountain Trail

A splendid 4.6-mile out-and-back trail near Woodstock, the Overlook Mountain Trail offers a hike that’s as rewarding as it is refreshing. As you make your way up, the Hudson Valley sprawls beneath you, a canvas of nature’s artistry.

Imagine this: halfway through your hike, you’re surrounded by a dense forest, a playground for birds. Warblers, those vibrant little musicians, flit between branches. Woodpeckers drum away, creating nature’s rhythm. And sparrows? Their cheerful melodies make for the perfect hiking soundtrack.

Overlook Mountain Trail edited

But that’s not all! Reach the summit, and an old fire tower awaits. Climb it, and you’re greeted with 360-degree views. It’s the kind of panorama that makes all your efforts worth it.

Now, lift your gaze to the sky. On a good day, you might see raptors like hawks or even eagles soaring, casting their regal shadows below.

Whether draped in spring blossoms, fall’s golden hues, or winter’s snow, Overlook Mountain Trail promises a bird-watching experience like no other. So, lace up and let the Catskills’ avian residents serenade you through your hike.

The Balsam Lake Mountain

The Balsam Lake Mountain Trail is an enticing mix of easy stretches and challenging climbs, promising every hiker an adventure worth remembering.

Starting at the end of FS Road 47, accessible from either Neversink or Beaverkill, this 3.8-mile path beckons you with the promise of the wild. 

The Balsam Lake Mountain

The initial part? Gentle hills and a taste of what’s to come. But don’t be fooled! The second half will test your mettle, with steep inclines that demand your best.

Streams crisscross the trail, adding a touch of the unexpected. Prepare for splashes, for sometimes the trail likes to play games.

But the real magic? It’s at the summit. Stand tall, breathe deep, and let your eyes wander over neighboring giants like Slide Mountain, Panther Mountain, and Mount Tremper.

For bird enthusiasts, this trail is a symphony. Hawks circle overhead, kestrels dance with the wind, and if you’re lucky, eagles might grace your hike. And let’s not forget the warblers and sparrows, adding their notes to nature’s score.

The Blackhead Range Trail

The Blackhead Range Trail is a challenging, yet rewarding, hike that offers stunning views of the surrounding area and an opportunity to see a variety of different bird species. 

Just a short drive off Highway 93, five miles beyond Jasper, you’ll find the trailhead. Spanning a bit over 3 miles, this trail challenges hikers with an ascent of nearly 1,000 feet.

The Blackhead Range Trail

The hike might test your stamina, but the reward is immeasurable. Begin in the heart of thick forests, and as you ascend, the canopy opens to reveal expansive mountain vistas. As you journey, keep an ear out for the varied bird songs, from the rhythmic drumming of woodpeckers to the sweet melodies of warblers and thrushes.

Remember to pack ample water and snacks; the trail lacks facilities. And given its steep stretches, sturdy hiking boots are a must.

The Hunter Mountain trail

The Hunter Mountain trail is a great moderate hike that offers stunning views and the opportunity to spot many different bird species. Roughly 8.16 miles from the DEC Parking Lot on Rt 6, this trail is perfect for those who want to enjoy a leisurely hike with plenty of chances to see wildlife

Along the way, you’ll have sweeping views of the valley below and plenty of opportunities to snap pictures of beautiful birds. Some of the most common bird sightings on this trail include warblers, sparrows, and thrushes.  

Hunter Mountain

The trail itself is relatively easy, but you should be prepared for a few steep sections that could require some scrambling. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.

At the top of the mountain, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. You can even spot the Catskills in the distance on a clear day. 

The Hunter Mountain trail is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring nature and taking in breathtaking sights.

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail is a  12.2-mile out-and-back trail near Phoenicia, and very in the Catskills for bird watching. 

The trailhead is located at the end of Wittenberg Road in the town of Shandaken. 

From there, the trail climbs steeply for about a mile before leveling off and following an old logging road through a mixed forest of hardwoods and evergreens. 

Wittenberg mountain

After another mile, the trail reaches Cornell Mountain, where there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

The trail then descends again, this time to Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills

Along the way, there are many opportunities to see birds such as hawks, eagles, woodpeckers, warblers, and thrushes.  

At the summit of Slide Mountain, hikers can take in the sweeping views of nearby mountains and valleys. 

There are also two lean-tos that provide shelter from the elements. After resting at the summit, the trail descends once again and follows an old logging road back to the trailhead.

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail is a great way to spend a day in the Catskills. 

Not only do you get to experience some of the best bird watching in the region, but you also get to take in amazing views while hiking through a beautiful forest.

The Mount Tremper Trail

The Catskills are home to a variety of bird species, making it a hotspot for bird watching. Among the best hiking trails in the Catskills for bird watching is Mount Tremper. 

This trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and is also a great place to spot birds.

Some of the birds spotted on Mount Tremper include the American kestrel, Cooper’s hawk, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, and more. 

The Mount Tremper Trail

So whether you’re an experienced birder or just getting started, Mount Tremper is a great place to enjoy some quality time outdoors while keeping your eyes peeled for some feathered friends.

The Mount Tremper Trail is an easy-to-moderate 3.3-mile hike through the Catskills Mountains. The trailhead is located at the end of Sky Top Road in Mount Tremper, New York. 

From the parking lot, the trail follows an old woods road for 0.6 miles before reaching a fork in the road. At the fork, take the left-hand trail which will begin to climb steadily uphill for another 0.6 miles until you reach another fork in the road. 

At this second fork, take the right-hand trail which will take you on a more gradual ascent for 1.1 miles until you reach an open rock face with views of surrounding mountains.

Continue straight on this trail for another 0.5 miles until you reach a third fork in the road. At this final fork, take the left-hand trail which will lead you downhill for 0.7 miles back to the parking lot where you started your hike!

The Finger Lakes Trail

The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) is a 550-mile long-distance trail that runs from the westernmost region of New York State to the eastern Catskill Mountains. The FLT offers a great opportunity to see an array of different bird species as it passes through some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in New York State.

The FLT runs through a total of 11 counties and 43 towns. It traverses five state forests, two national forests, and a number of state parks and wildlife management areas

Willowemoc Wild Forest catskills

The trail is managed by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, which is a volunteer-based organization that works to maintain and improve the trail.

There are many different birds that can be seen along the FLT. Some of the more common species include woodpeckers, owls, hawks, eagles, and warblers. More rare sightings have included ruffed grouse, purple finch, and American kestrel. 

In addition to bird watching, the FLT also provides opportunities for fishing, camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the FLT has something to offer everyone. So get out there and enjoy all that this amazing trail has to offer!

The Twin Mountain Trails

One of the best trails for bird-watching is the Twin Mountain Trail. This trail offers a moderate hike with great views, and a chance to spot many different bird species, including warblers and sparrows. 

The trail is a 6.02 miles round trip from DEC parking lot from Prediger Road to the Twin Summit and back.

The Twin Mountain Trail is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, and it offers beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities to see different birds.

The Twin Mountain Trails

The trail starts at the Twin Mountain Trailhead, located off State Route 23. From here, you’ll follow a moderate to difficult climb up a steep ascent as you make your way to the top. 

As you ascend, take time to stop and observe the birds. In this area, you may spot many different species including Red-tailed Hawks, American Woodcocks, Blue Jays, and more.

Once you reach the summit of Twin Mountain, enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Catskills and surrounding countryside. 

There are several benches scattered along the summit where you can take a break from your trek and take in all that nature has to offer.

After enjoying the view at the summit, begin your descent back down towards your car and return home with memories of an unforgettable bird-watching experience!

The Bellvale Mountain Trail

Situated just a short drive from the outskirts of Warwick, the Bellvale Mountain Trail is a not-to-miss destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Starting at the trailhead near Lake Anne, this 4.5-mile looped path promises a moderately challenging yet enjoyable hike.

The trail elevates your senses quite literally, climbing a significant 900 feet, offering hikers a chance to test their endurance. But the effort is rewarding. As you ascend, the encompassing forestry gradually unveils breathtaking views of the Warwick Valley below.

The Bellvale Mountain Trail

This trail isn’t just about the panoramas, though. The rich foliage is home to a medley of birds, making it a haven for birdwatchers. From the vibrant flutters of warblers to the rhythmic drumming of woodpeckers, you’re in for an auditory treat.

While the trail is mostly well-maintained, its occasional steep patches suggest that wearing supportive hiking boots is a wise choice. Don’t forget to carry water, snacks, and perhaps a bird guidebook. After all, you never know who you might spot chirping in the treetops!

If you’re seeking a day filled with nature, exercise, and the cheerful tunes of birds, Bellvale Mountain Trail awaits your footprints.

Kaaterskill Falls Trail 

The Kaaterskill Falls Trail is accessible via Route 23A near Palenville, the trailhead kicks off an invigorating 2.6-mile round trip that promises adventure at every step.

Right from the beginning, you’ll be welcomed by the gentle murmur of cascading waters. As you navigate the trail, the sound intensifies, culminating in the majestic two-tiered, 260-foot Kaaterskill Falls. T

he falls aren’t just a sight to behold; they’re a testament to nature’s sheer power and beauty.

Kaaterskill Falls Trail

Beyond its water spectacle, the path winds through dense hardwood forests, interspersed with verdant glades. 

For bird lovers, this environment provides a chance to catch glimpses of varied species – the secretive thrushes, the vibrant warblers, or even the rare flycatchers.

While the hike is relatively short, certain sections can be slippery, especially near the falls. It’s recommended to wear sturdy footwear, preferably with good grip. 

Given there’s limited shade near the waterfall, consider bringing along water, sunscreen, and a hat.

Kaaterskill Falls Trail isn’t just a hike; it’s an experience. Each step on this path offers a new opportunity to connect with nature, making it an unmissable part of the Catskill’s vast trail tapestry.

The Ashokan Rail Trail

Journeying through the Catskill Mountains, the Ashokan Rail Trail is a gem that pays homage to the region’s history while serving up unparalleled natural beauty. 

Spanning approximately 11.5 miles, this multi-use path runs parallel to the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir, promising breathtaking water views interlaced with scenic mountain backdrops.

The Ashokan Rail Trail

Starting from the trailhead near West Hurley, you’ll be stepping onto what was once an active railroad line. 

As you walk, cycle, or even cross-country ski during winter months, it’s fascinating to think of the trains that once thundered along the same route, connecting communities and livelihoods.

The trail itself is a mix of terrains – from compacted gravel to boardwalk sections, ensuring a comfortable journey for most skill levels. 

Alongside the path, dense forests open up intermittently to reveal sweeping vistas of the reservoir, providing picture-perfect moments or serene spots for a quiet pause.

Bird enthusiasts will find joy here. With habitats varying from wetlands to woodlands, it’s a haven for a diverse bird population, including kingfishers, ospreys, and the occasional bald eagle.

For those who come prepared, there are several resting spots, complete with benches, making it ideal for picnics or simply soaking in the views. Given its flat terrain and well-maintained path, it’s family-friendly and accessible for all ages.

The Ashokan Rail Trail is more than just a path through nature; it’s a walk through time, connecting past legacies with present joys. Every visit offers a unique experience, ensuring it remains a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike.

The Best Views in the Catskills: Majestic Sights Awaiting Discovery

The Catskill Mountains are a testament to nature’s grandeur. Affectionately dubbed the “Blue Mountains” by early Dutch settlers because of their hazy, blue silhouette on the horizon, the Catskills boast an array of viewpoints that leave visitors feeling fortunate enough to witness them. 

Here are some of the most mesmerizing views that the Catskills have to offer.

1. Inspiration Point on the Escarpment Trail:

Perched along the famed Escarpment Trail, Inspiration Point offers a panorama that truly lives up to its name. 

The vista encompasses North-South Lake and the Hudson Valley, with the Berkshires in the distance. 

The way the light dapples on the waters below, especially during sunrise or sunset, is a sight to behold.

2. Overlook Mountain:

If you’ve ever dreamt of a place where the horizon seems endless, Overlook Mountain is where dreams come to life. 

The remnants of an old hotel near the summit add an element of mystery, while the fire tower at the top allows a 360-degree view, capturing the likes of Hudson River and Ashokan Reservoir.

3. Kaaterskill Falls:

While many views are best seen from up high, the sight from the base of Kaaterskill Falls, a two-tiered waterfall, is equally breathtaking. 

With 260 feet of cascading waters set against a verdant backdrop, it’s a location that has inspired artists and poets for generations.

4. Giant Ledge:

A short but steep hike leads you to Giant Ledge, where a series of five ledges offers the perfect vantage points. 

Here, the dense forest gives way to views of Panther Mountain and Slide Mountain. 

On clear days, you can even glimpse the Shawangunks and the distant peaks of the Adirondacks.

5. Hunter Mountain Fire Tower:

Towering over its surroundings, this fire tower on Hunter Mountain, the second-highest peak in the Catskills, provides a bird’s-eye view of the vast landscape. 

The rolling mountains blanketed in green during summers and a riot of colors in fall is an unforgettable sight.

6. Ashokan Reservoir Promenade:

Sometimes, tranquillity pairs best with grand views. The promenade along the Ashokan Reservoir is one such place. 

With the Catskill peaks reflecting in its placid waters, it’s a serene spot that showcases nature’s symmetry.

7. Table Rocks:

Nestled within the Sundown Wild Forest, Table Rocks offers a unique viewpoint. The flat, table-like rock formations provide a natural platform to gaze upon the mesmerizing Peekamoose Valley below.

8. North Point:

Hidden within North-South Lake Campground, North Point might not be the highest peak, but its views are second to none. 

Overlooking the Hudson River Valley and the Massachusetts’ Taconic Range in the distance, it’s a splendid mix of water, sky, and mountain.

9. Acra Point:

For those who love the journey as much as the destination, the trail to Acra Point promises dense woods, babbling brooks, and a summit view that captures the Windham-Blackhead range in all its glory.

10. Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower:

There’s something timeless about fire towers and their promise of unhindered views. At Balsam Lake Mountain, the vista encompasses the likes of Graham and Doubletop mountains, with the Delaware River shimmering in the distance.

11. Slide Mountain:

As the Catskills’ tallest peak, Slide Mountain is a must-visit for every nature enthusiast. The trek might test your stamina, but the panoramic sights from the summit, covering almost every major Catskill peak, make every step worthwhile.

12. Red Hill Fire Tower:

Last but not least, Red Hill gifts visitors with a vista that spans the Rondout Reservoir, the peaks of the Catskills, and even the Shawangunks. It reminded us of vastness and beauty of the world we live in.

A journey through the Catskills, with its multitude of vistas, is akin to reading a story where each viewpoint is a chapter filled with its own tales, wonders, and memories waiting to be made. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for your next challenge or a family on a weekend getaway, the Catskills promises views that resonate with every heartbeat, every sigh, and every moment of awe.

In every season, from the first bloom of spring to winter’s snowy embrace, the Catskills stand as a testament to nature’s artistry. 

Every trail, every peak, and every valley invites you to pause, reflect, and marvel at the grand tapestry that is the world around us.

Birds of the Catskills: A Closer Look

The Catskill Mountains echo with the songs of countless birds. This region, alive with flitting wings and colorful plumes, draws birdwatchers from all over. Among the symphony of chirps and calls, one bird’s distinct gaze sets it apart.

Red-Eyed Vireo

The Red-Eyed Vireo is a captivating presence in the dense canopy of the Catskills. Donning an olive-green upper body and a clean white underside, it is often the bird’s mesmerizing ruby-red eyes that make birdwatchers pause in admiration.

Red Eyed Vireo

They’re songbirds, and their melodies often resonate through the woods, adding depth to the forest’s natural soundtrack.

They thrive in the deciduous forests of the Catskills, making them a common sight, especially during the warmer months. For those eager to catch a glimpse, trails like the Escarpment Trail and the Kaaterskill Falls Trail are particularly fruitful. 

These areas, with their rich foliage, provide an ideal habitat for the Red-Eyed Vireo. Spotting one is not just a treat for the eyes but also a testament to the rich biodiversity that the Catskill Mountains cradle within their verdant expanse.


Delicate, lively, and unmistakably colorful, Warblers are the fleeting gems of the Catskills’ birdlife. 

Their vibrant plumage, varying from species to species, adds a splash of color against the green backdrop of the forests, making them a favorite among birdwatchers.


These little songbirds flit energetically from branch to branch, hunting insects with precision. 

Their songs, both melodic and varied, often fill the air, particularly in the spring and early summer. 

The Catskills, with its diverse habitats, is home to several species of Warblers, each with its distinct call and coloration.

For those with a keen interest in observing Warblers, the Overlook Mountain Trail and the Ashokan Rail Trail are known hotspots. 

As you wander these paths, keep an ear out for their distinctive songs and an eye out for sudden bursts of yellow, blue, or orange amidst the trees. 

Their presence is a clear indicator of the health and vibrancy of the Catskill’s ecosystem.


Regal and swift, the Kestrel stands out in the Catskills’ avian tapestry. Often referred to as the “sparrow hawk” in North America, this small falcon is a master of the skies.

With a mix of russet, blue, and white in its plumage, Kestrels are undeniably striking, easily drawing the attention of bird enthusiasts and casual hikers alike.


They are often seen hovering high in the sky, wings flapping rapidly, eyes keenly trained on the ground below, scouting for prey. 

When they spot a target, like a mouse or a small insect, they dive with pinpoint accuracy, showcasing their impeccable hunting skills.

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of this incredible raptor, the open meadows near the Balsam Lake Mountain Trail can be a great vantage point. 

Here, the Kestrel often rides the updrafts, performing its aerial acrobatics. Its presence in the Catskills reminds us of the rich tapestry of life that thrives in these mountains.

Three-Toed Woodpecker

A rarity in many regions, the Three-Toed Woodpecker is a special sight for bird lovers in the Catskills. 

Unlike most woodpeckers, which have four toes, this distinct bird boasts only three, setting it apart in the avian world. 

Three toed Woodpecker

Its black and white plumage, punctuated with bright yellow cap on the males, is both a marvel and a mystery as it blends with the bark of the trees it favors.

Adapted to colder climates, these woodpeckers are particularly fond of coniferous forests. Their rhythmic drumming can be heard echoing through the woods, signaling their presence. 

It’s a sound that often prompts a game of hide and seek, as onlookers try to pinpoint the source amidst the dense trees.

Keen birdwatchers might be fortunate enough to spot them on the quieter sections of the Kaaterskill Falls Trail, where the dense coniferous growth provides them the perfect habitat. T

The Three-Toed Woodpecker’s presence in the Catskills adds another layer to the region’s rich biodiversity, offering a thrilling quest for those hoping to see it up close.


Amidst the lush greenery of the Catskills, the melodious songs of thrushes often serve as a soundtrack to a serene walk in the woods. 

These songbirds, often cloaked in modest browns and understated patterns, are a humble contrast to the brighter avian residents of the region. 


With its ethereal, fluting song, the Hermit Thrush is especially prominent at dusk. Its melody, both complex and harmonious, reverberates through the trees, bringing a sense of peace to anyone fortunate enough to hear it. 

The Wood Thrush, on the other hand, has a louder, flute-like song, echoing through the woodlands like an avian opera.

The dense undergrowth and dappled shade of the Ashokan Rail Trail or the tranquil paths of the Slide Mountain Wilderness are prime spots to encounter these songsters. As you tread softly, keep your ears tuned. 

Amid the rustling leaves and distant calls, the thrushes of the Catskills offer a melodic treat that is sure to enhance your hiking experience.


The majestic hawks of the Catskills are truly a sight to behold. 

Soaring high above the treetops, they dominate the skies with their powerful wings and keen eyesight, always on the lookout for their next meal. 

The silhouette of a hawk against the vast expanse of the sky is a hallmark of this region, symbolizing both freedom and the wild spirit of nature.


The Red-tailed Hawk, easily recognizable by its reddish-brown tail, is one of the most common sights. 

Its broad wings and rounded tail make it an agile flier, able to navigate both the open skies and the dense forests. 

Then there’s the Cooper’s Hawk, a swift predator often seen darting through the trees in pursuit of smaller birds.

One of the best places to spot these magnificent birds is near open fields or meadows where they often hunt. Trails such as the Kaaterskill Falls or the Bellvale Mountain Trail provide fantastic vantage points. 

As you hike, don’t forget to occasionally cast your eyes skyward. The sight of a hawk gracefully riding the thermals, with the backdrop of the Catskills, is a memory you’ll cherish for a long time.

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk, a true gem of the Catskills, is both majestic and elusive. Sporting a slate-grey plumage and piercing red eyes, this hawk is a master of the deep forests. 

northern goshawk

Known for its incredible agility, it can navigate through dense woodlands with an acrobatic prowess that leaves observers in awe. 

Often heard before seen, its sharp calls resonate through the forest, signaling its presence. 

Trails like the Ashokan Rail Trail or the Overlook Mountain offer the best chances of catching a glimpse of this striking raptor. 

If you’re lucky enough to spot one, watch as it demonstrates its aerial mastery, weaving effortlessly between trees and hunting with precision.

Purple Finch

The vibrant hues of the Purple Finch are nothing short of mesmerizing. This songbird, with its raspberry-colored plumage, adds a splash of color to the Catskills, making it a delightful sight for birders. 

Often mistaken for the common house finch, the male Purple Finch has a richer crimson hue, while the females sport distinctive white streaks. 

purple finch

Their cheerful songs are a harmonious soundtrack to any hiking adventure. 

As you traverse trails like Kaaterskill Falls or Balsam Lake Mountain, be on the lookout for these charming finches, often seen flitting about in treetops or serenading hikers from a hidden perch.

Their lively presence is a heartwarming reminder of the beauty and diversity of the Catskills’ avian life.

American Woodcocks

Meet the American Woodcock, the Catskills’ captivating twilight dancer! 

At dusk, especially during early spring, these ground-dwelling birds put on a riveting sky dance, spiraling upwards hundreds of feet before descending in a series of zigzags — all accompanied by their signature musical twitter.

American Woodcocks

Their long bills, perfect for probing soft ground in search of earthworms, give them a distinctive look, as do their large, expressive eyes. 

These eyes, positioned high on their heads, help them keep a watch for predators even as they feed.

As you wander the wooded sections of trails like the Bellvale Mountain Trail or the Blackhead Range, listen for the Woodcock’s “peent” ground call, signaling the beginning of its dance. 

If you’re hiking during their courtship season, prepare for a spectacle! This enigmatic bird is a joy to observe, reminding us of the wonders that come alive as the sun sets in the Catskills.

Robins in the Catskills

Robins, or more specifically the American Robin, are among the most familiar and heartwarming sights in the Catskills.

Their cheery orange-red breasts, grayish-brown wings, and melodious songs herald the arrival of spring.

With a distinctive, lilting song, robins often serve as an auditory backdrop to early morning hikes in the region.


One doesn’t need to venture too deep into the trails to spot them, as they often frequent meadows, gardens, and the edges of forests. Watch as they hop gracefully on the ground, eyes sharp, listening for worms.

The Overlook Mountain Trail and the Ashokan Rail Trail are among the many trails where these birds can frequently be spotted, especially during the early hours.

While robins might seem common, their presence in the Catskills is a gentle reminder of nature’s everyday miracles.

Their resilience, especially during the chill of early spring, and their vibrant colors against the greening landscape, add a touch of magic to any birding adventure.

10 Tips to Improve Your Birding Experience in the Catskills

  1. Early Bird Gets the Bird: Many birds are most active during the early morning. Start your birding trip at dawn to maximize sightings.
  2. Quiet as a Mouse: Move quietly and slowly. Sudden noises or movements can spook birds. Also, try wearing earth-tone clothing to blend into your surroundings.
  3. Invest in Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars can make a huge difference. Look for ones specifically designed for birding with a wide field of view.
  4. Stay Patient: Birding is as much about patience as observation. Sometimes staying still and waiting can lead to the most memorable sightings.
  5. Keep a Journal: Document your sightings. Note down the date, location, and any unique behaviors you observe. This not only helps track your progress but also deepens your connection with the hobby.
  6. Get a Guidebook: Invest in a bird guidebook specific to the Northeast or the Catskills region. This will help you quickly identify and learn about the birds you see.
  7. Join a Group: Connect with local birding groups or guided walks. Sharing the experience with others can be enlightening and social.
  8. Respect Nesting Areas: During breeding seasons, keep a respectful distance from nests. Disturbing nesting birds can have detrimental effects on their young.
  9. Apps & Technology: Consider using birding apps like Audubon Bird Guide or Merlin Bird ID. They offer real-time assistance in identifying birds by appearance or song.
  10. Stay Curious: Birds are just one part of the Catskills’ rich ecosystem. While looking up, don’t forget to notice the butterflies, wildflowers, or even the occasional deer that crosses your path. Embracing the entire environment enriches your birding experience.

Leaving Thoughts

The Catskills, with its verdant landscapes and echoing bird calls, is more than just a place—it’s a symphony of nature where every bird, tree, and trail plays its part. 

As you traverse its trails and spy on its avian inhabitants, there’s an undeniable connection forged between you and this age-old wilderness. 

Each visit is but a brief moment in the vast timeline of these mountains. As you pack up your binoculars and journals, take a moment to reflect on the privilege of bearing witness to its wonders. 

Cherish each memory, each flutter of wings, and every song echoing in the woods. And as you leave, carry with you not just memories, but a renewed commitment to preserving such places for generations to come. 

After all, the Catskills doesn’t just belong to the birds—it belongs to all of us, a shared treasure to love and protect.

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