Where Kids Can See Birds in Rochester | Kids Out and About Rochester <

Where Kids Can See Birds in Rochester

from the Rochester Birding Association (Rochesterbirding.COM)

Photos by Laura Kammermeier

How cool is it to have a wild bird land on your hand and pluck a seed from your palm?  And then to watch it fly to a nearby branch, position the seed between its toes, and crack it open? 

It’s an experience children don’t soon forget. Bird watching close up like this engages all the senses: the whir of the wings, the lightness of the bird on your hand, the roughness of its feet.

For more than a decade, children have thrilled to this experience along the Song Bird Trail in Mendon Ponds Park. It’s one of the places that make Rochester and the surrounding area such a great place to watch birds and to involve children in the natural world.

Here are three places in the Rochester area where you can give your child a not-to-be-missed encounter with birds.  

Song Bird Trail in Mendon Ponds Park

Easily topping the list for a personal experience with birds is Song Bird Trail. The Black-capped Chickadees and other song birds along the trail are acclimated to hikers and will charm young and old alike.

What you’ll see: Take black oil sunflower seeds.  After a brief walk, you’ll see and hear the Black-capped Chickadees chick-a-deeing to each other or singing their song, which sounds like “swee-tie.”  Stand very still, stretch out a hand with a few seeds in the palm and wait quietly for a bird to land.  Sometimes instead of a chickadee, you’ll attract a grey bird with a crest—a Tufted Titmouse—or a White-breasted Nuthatch, a grey and white bird. Cardinals and woodpeckers are also seen along the trail.

Directions: Mendon Ponds Park is situated just south of the New York State Thruway, between Route 65 (Clover Street) and Mendon Center Road. Parking for the Nature Center and Bird Song Trail is at the corner of Route 65 and Pond Road.

When to go: Song Bird Trail makes a great outing in the winter, but the birds are there and respond to visitors year round.

Fish Hatchery and Corduroy Road in Powder Mills Park

Its varied habitats attract a variety of migrant and breeding birds, and you can watch them from the car or along one of many easy trails.

What you’ll see: For children, the highlight of this visit could be watching the families of geese, with the hatchlings changing from downy yellow birds to gawky teenagers. You’ll usually see a hopeful Great Blue Heron hanging around the fish hatchery, and you may hear the rattle call of the Belted Kingfisher. Watch the treetops on the hillside along Corduroy Road for the brilliant flashes of Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. You’re likely to find Yellow Warblers and Swamp Sparrow in the adjacent marsh. Keep your ears open!

Directions: Powder Mills Park is south of Route 96 between Pittsford and Eastview Mall. Exit Route 490 East at Bushnell's Basin, head south on Route 96 and turn right onto Park Road to access the park. 

When to go: You’ll find the most birds there in spring and early summer. It’s always easier to find them before the leaves come out. Fish and frogs are fun to see in the park, too.

Braddock Bay

Nationally recognized for its hawk flights and as a migrant trap, this is the place to go when you want to dig a little deeper into birding.

What you’ll see: In spring, hawks, eagles and vultures fly along the lakeshore on their way north. They can be high in the sky, but there’s usually someone at the hawk watching platform who can help with identification. The adjacent ponds are a stopping place waterfowl, and the woodlot across from the hawk watch and the East Spit are great places to find warblers, thrushes and sparrows. Gulls, terns and marsh birds are found at other times of year.  

Directions: To reach Braddock Bay State Park, head west on Lake Ontario State Parkway and exit at East Manitou Road heading north.The park entrance is almost immediately on the left.   

When to go: Birding here is good year round, but between March and late May when the winds blow from the southwest, hawk flights can be amazing.

Helping Children Learn MoreYoung Birders Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

Binoculars will help kids see details on birds that they can't see with their eyes alone.

A field guide can be used to identify birds. Try The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides) by Bill Thompson, III.

Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology web site All About Birds is a great resource.

The Rochester Birding Association sponsors about ten Beginning Birder field trips annually.  They are free, and all ages are invited.

© 2013, Rochester Birding Association and Laura Kammermeier