10 Birds to See This Summer

It’s Officially Summer, So Get Out and See Birds

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It’s officially summer and one of the best times to enjoy watching birds. 

Some birds, like the late-summer breeding American Goldfinch, are beginning to nest and looking for a safe place to give life to a new generation. Other birds are looking for food for their nestlings and teaching them to fend for themselves. While other birds, like the American Robin, are busy raising up to three broods.

So there are lots to see if you love birds. And the types of birds you see depend on where you live and your surroundings if you venture to the beach, swampy wooded areas, or open space.

Birdwatching is like Forest Gump’s philosophy about a box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Here are ten of our favorite birds we enjoy seeing in the summer and where you might find them.



The Ovenbird is an inconspicuous ground-nesting warbler that gets its name from its unique-looking nest that looks like an old-fashioned domed oven.

Ovenbirds have an emphatic and distinctive staccato song that sounds like a ringing chant of “teacher, teacher, teacher.”

Ovenbirds frequent shady woods and spend most of their time walking on the forest floor, and its olive-brown back and spotted breast give it the perfect disguise to go about life undetected.

Where to see them: According to All About Birds, you can find Ovenbirds in most forest types, from rich oak or maple woods to dry pine forests, although they avoid wet or swampy areas.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Seeing these birds in the wild is always a treat since Green Herons are often heard but not seen.

Herons always seem “nervous” in the wild and enjoy their solitude. They don’t appreciate when we infringe on their turf, often honking to let us know we’re a nuisance.

But they are fun birds to watch hunt. The last thing you want to do is give a Green Heron a reason to make its explosive skeow call. You know what we’re talking about if you’ve heard this call. You can listen to it here. 

But to play it safe, stay far back as the Green Heron goes into full hunting mode. Watching this bird in action is a thrill as it stomps over roots and through thick vegetation and stands on rocks close to the water’s edge until it finds the perfect spot.

Where to see them: You’ll see these birds around lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, and streamsides. You can see them foraging in practically any aquatic habitat. Still, they are most common around small bodies of fresh water, especially those lined with trees, shrubs, and tall marsh vegetation.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

If you want to see a bird with the energy of someone who drank one too many double espressos, then the Belted Kingfisher is your bird.

The energetic, shaggy-crested Belted Kingfisher is often heard before it’s seen, and they let you know when you disturb them by making a loud, shrilling alarm call.

Belted Kingfishers are adept at fishing, and you can spot these birds perched high on bare tree limbs or along bodies of water looking for prey.

These high-energy birds are entertaining to watch and a challenge to photograph.

Where to see them: Belted Kingfishers near streams, lakes, bays, and coasts. We enjoy seeing them off the Hudson River and in swampy ponds. They’re wherever you find small fish and other aquatic creatures like crayfish, frogs, and insects.


Prairie Warbler

There are 53 species of warblers in North America to see during summer, each sporting the color of the rainbow and singing its own melody.

Watching these tiny songbirds can be bad for your health. Getting a good look at them to confirm their identity results in contorting in uncomfortable positions and leads to a condition among birdwatchers known as warbler neck.

Where to see them: Warblers are everywhere during spring migration. You can find warblers in swaths of forests, stopping over on an isolated patch of trees or in city parks. The key is listening since spotting them can be challenging. Follow the song, and you’ll find the warbler.

Scarlet Tanager

Male Scarlet Tanager

Few birds are more beautiful than a male Scarlet Tanager in vibrant ruby red breeding plumage.

You must look up to see Scarlet Tanagers since they prefer to stay high in the tree canopy.

The raspier quality of their song grabs your attention, so listen for a series of 4–5 raspy chirruping phrases with a hurried quality. When you hear it, that’s your cue to scan the tree canopy to get a quick glimpse.

Where to see them: Look for them in forests and shade trees (especially oaks). According to the National Audubon Society, Scarlet Tanagers breed primarily in deciduous forests, mainly where oaks are common but also in maple, beech, and other trees; sometimes in mixed pine-oak woods, and occasionally in coniferous woods dominated by pine or hemlock.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

We can’t imagine it being summer without having Luigi, our backyard Gray Catbird and his family visiting our yard. Catbirds have quirky personalities that match their jazzy songs.

Where to see them: You can find catbirds near leafy thickets along the edges of woods and streams, shrubby swamps, overgrown brushy fields, and garden hedges. We hear them throughout the summer during our hikes.

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

One of the greatest spectacles of fall migration is seeing a swirling flock of Broad-winged Hawks passing by on their way to South America.

Birdwatchers enjoy seeing these hawks make a grand exit in the fall, while their arrival in spring goes undetected under the camouflage of spring buds.

But one day, when you’re hiking on the outskirts of a forested area, you look up to see a Broad-winged hawk staring at you from its perch before it flies deep under the forest canopy.

And when you see one, you won’t soon forget.

Broad-winged Hawks look similar to Red-shouldered Hawks, but Broadwings are slightly smaller, like a crow-sized hawk. And their tails are not long and narrow like Red-shouldered Hawks.

Adult Broadwing hawks are beautiful with their striking color combination of a rich, dark brown back and a pale chest and belly accenting against amber cinnamon chestnut-colored stripes.

The key to identifying them is in flight. They live up to their name with their broad wings and thickly black and white striped tail bars. The large black bar at the end of its tail is thicker than its other black bars, so you can easily spot them without binoculars.

Where to see them: Broad-winged Hawks live in forests and spend much time underneath the canopy. The best time to see them is during fall migration when they’re in large flocks, known as kettles.



These adorable plovers hatch with their eyes open and go from newborns to teenagers quickly. Once the Killdeer chick’s soft fluffy feathers dry, they’re off to the races, following their parents and searching for something to eat.

Seeing these endearing plovers is one of the delights of summer. And you don’t have to go to the beach to see this shorebird.

Where to see them: You can find these birds on or near the open ground with low vegetation in lawns, golf courses, driveways, parking lots, gravel-covered roofs, pastures, fields, sandbars, and mudflats. These birds prefer dry habitats and are one of the least water-associated of all shorebirds.

We see these birds during summer in places with large parking lots.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Nature gifted the Northern Flicker with quite a quandary in life. This beautiful bird is a ground-dwelling woodpecker preferring the open woods or forest edges to appease its appetite for feasting on ants and crickets.

The flicker isn’t entirely content with being a brown woodpecker favoring instead being an anteater.

Seeing these birds differs from where you expect to find a woodpecker because flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. So flickers excavate for ants underground where the nutritious larvae live, hammering at the soil the way other woodpeckers drill into wood.

These birds are a joy to have a guest in your backyard. Though Northern Flickers don’t habitually visit bird feeders, they stop by our feeders in winter and enjoy our birdbaths during summer.

If your backyard has a mixture of trees and open ground or is near woods, Northern Flickers may be walking around the wooded edges. We frequently see our flickers excavating the sandy soil for ants.

Where to see them: You can find these woodpeckers in open forests, woodlots, groves, towns, and semi-open country. The flicker can be found in almost any habitat with trees.


Osprey (Fish Hawk)

Ospreys are magnificent fish-eating birds with a cosmopolitan range.

The bird’s most recognizable physical characteristic is its black mask extending from its eye, around its head, and through its neck.

These gorgeous fish-eating birds have skillfully mastered the art of catching fish with such grace and style. First, they fly or hover over the water from high up. Then, when the bird spots its prey, the Osprey will hover in a spiral downward and dive into the water feet-first, submerging themselves entirely underwater in the pursuit of sushi.

After a successful strike, the Osprey locks the fish in its curved talons. It rises heavily from the water carrying the fish head forward with its feet to reduce wind resistance to its nest or the closest place where it can land to eat its meal.

One of Osprey’s most exciting characteristics is where they decide to build their nests. They can make themselves at home on any tall structure. It can be on top of a telephone pole, a crane, the San Francisco Bay Bridge, or even the infamous NASA sign.

These birds creatively build their nests and use anything from twigs, sticks, driftwood, and even seaweed.

We see them on the Hudson River building nests in buoys or in our favorite place atop a rusted-out crane.

Where to see them: Ospreys live near waterways, so the best chances of seeing these magnificent birds are near rivers, lakes, and the coast. You will see them near fresh or salt water where large fish are present.

Get Out and See Birds

Summer is a fabulous time to see some of your favorite birds and watch as they raise the next generation of their species, so pick up your binoculars and enjoy your favorite places to birdwatch.

What are your favorite birds to see during summer? Share your favorites with us in the comments below.


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