My 11 Best Bird Watching Spots in New Hampshire You Should Try

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases with no additional costs for you.

New Hampshire is one of the smallest states and is in the New England area of the country. Although the state is small in area, it still offers a lot for bird watchers. I have compiled a list of my best bird watching spots in New Hampshire so you can plan an excellent birding trip here.

The best bird watching spots in New Hampshire are those on the Atlantic Coast, such as at Odiorne Point State Park and Hampton Beach State Parks, and those found at higher elevations, like at White Mountain National Forest, Mount Washington, and Mount Tecumseh.

A table giving the most exciting birds you can see at each of my top 11 birding spots in New Hampshire:

Pondicherry Wildlife RefugeBlackburnian Warbler and Broad-winged Hawk
Odiorne Point State Park Razorbill and Black Guillemot
Hampton Beach State ParkCommon Eider and Purple Sandpiper
Connecticut LakesGray Jay and Boreal Chickadee
Lake Francis State ParkCommon Loon and Red-breasted Nuthatch
Mount WashingtonBicknell’s Thrush and Ruffed Grouse
Great Bay National Wildlife RefugeOsprey and Bufflehead
White Mountain National ForestPeregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle.
Mount Tecumseh TrailheadCommon Raven and Spruce Grouse
Star Island and the Isles of ShoalsRoseate Tern and Wilson’s Storm Petrol
Pickering PondsLesser Black-backed Gull and Iceland Gull
Best Places to Bird Watch in New Hampshire

Read on to learn more about the top bird watching places you should visit in New Hampshire and learn about which birds you can find in each place.

Best Bird Watching Spots in New Hampshire
Best Bird Watching Spots in New Hampshire

TIP: If you want to check out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Best Places to Bird Watch in New Hampshire

There is a range of habitats where you can find birds in the state. There are woodlands, mountains, coastal waters, and freshwater lakes.

1. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

This is a 6,405-acre area with a range of different bird habitats. The site has wetlands, woodlands, riparian vegetation, and boreal forests of spruce and fir trees.

There is a trail and viewing platform that gives you good views of the ponds here. The bird species you can find at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge include the following: Broad-winged Hawk, American Woodcock, American Bittern, and Wood Duck.

Several warblers breed in the refuge. Such species as the Blackburnian Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Canada Warbler regularly nest in the trees of the refuge.

2. Odiorne Point State Park 

This is a 330-acre park that is located on the Atlantic Coast. It has many bird habitats, including the ocean, rocky shore, beach, saltwater marsh, freshwater marsh, and woods. 

In winter, you can see some exciting waterfowl like Red-necked Grebes, Long-tailed Ducks, and Surf Scoters.

Great Cormorants can also be seen here, as can Razorbills and Black Guillemots. In the marshy areas, you can find rails like the Virginia Rails and Sora. All rails are pretty shy, so seeing these birds may require effort and patience.

You can see migrating hawks between the end of September and October. Besides hawks like the Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks, you can also see other birds of prey. Watch for Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and Northern Harriers in this park. 

TOP TIP: All bird watchers are different. To find out what makes you special as a bird watcher, check out this article, and to find out how birders are not weird, take a look at this one.

3. Hampton Beach State Park

Hampton Beach State Park is a place I like to visit in winter when there are not many people, and I have a good chance of seeing exciting birds.

This spot is perfect for sea birds you won’t easily see elsewhere. This park is also situated on the Atlantic Coast, providing an excellent opportunity to see marine birds.

You can find species such as Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Common Eider, Northern Gannet, and Long-tailed Duck out on the water here. You may also see Purple Sandpipers, which like to spend winter among the rocky areas.

Other bird species to watch for from the beach here include the following: Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and possibly Thick-billed Murre and King Eider. Shorebirds seen here include Sanderlings, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Greater Yellowlegs.

Camping sites in the park are places to look in winter for Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, Common Redpolls, and possibly Snowy Owls.

4. Connecticut Lakes

This area is in the northern part of the state. Some places in the area are helpful for birds, including the Deer Mountain campground and Scotts Bog.

There are various dirt roads you can also drive along in the region. In general, you can find some more northern bird species in Connecticut Lakes.

Birds to watch for include Black-backed Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Spruce Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. 

It would be best to look for Alder Flycatchers, Olive-sided Flycatchers, and Blue-headed Vireos. Warblers you should find in the region include the Bay-breasted Warblers, Mourning Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, and Canada Warblers. As do the Northern Waterthrushes, these warbler species all breed in the area.

5. Lake Francis State Park 

This park has a lake that is 2,000 acres in size. The state park is located close to the Connecticut Lakes region in the Appalachian Mountains. 

You can download and print a map of the park, which will be helpful for your trip. You can camp in the park, which is useful for birders looking to see night birds like owls. There are also several trails to walk along.

You can find a variety of bird species here, including Common Loons, Hooded Mergansers, Osprey, and Bald Eagles. You can find bird species in the wooded areas, such as Blue Jay, American Robin, American Crow, and White-breasted Nuthatch.

Many warbler and vireo species have been recorded at Lake Francis State Park, including American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Nashville Warbler.

6. Mount Washington

A toll road takes you to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington. It is open from May to October and is a great way to see high-elevation species and coniferous-loving birds.

It is the best way to see Bicknell’s Thrush, which nests only above 3,000 feet. This species is also only found in a narrow range in the northeastern parts of the United States. 

Even guided tours are offered, which take you up Mount Washington to see the Bicknell’s Thrush. These are usually held during June. Knowing the thrush’s call is most helpful when trying to locate it. You can also find Hermit Thrushes in the area.

Other species to look for include the Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Red Crossbill, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Blackpoll Warbler.

Other warblers you can see here include Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Magnolia Warbler. You can also find both grouse species, the Ruffed and Spruce Grouse.

7. Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is more than 1,000 acres and includes the New Hampshire Great Bay. This saltwater bay (a tidal estuary) is surrounded by marshes and mudflats that attract many birds.

Some birds you can see in open water here include the Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Wood Duck, Common Merganser, and American Wigeon.

There are two trails you can walk on to look for birds. The shorter trail is the Peverly Pond Trail, while the 2-mile trail is the Ferry Way Trail. This latter trail does take you to some marshes and through fields, providing an excellent chance to see many birds.

You can find Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and Pileated Woodpeckers, as well as many warblers and other birds. Pine Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Black-and-white Warblers breed in the refuge, so you will likely come across these birds on your walks.

There is a boardwalk at  Great Bay Discovery Center, located on the southern side of the bay at Sandy Point. You can take this boardwalk to explore a woodland area and salt marsh.

At least 227 species of birds have been recorded in the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. A complete species checklist is available for use.

TIP: Knowing how to spot the birds in your yard is key to enjoying visits from your winged friends as much as possible! The best sources are trusted books, I recommend using the following (Amazon links):
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
National Audubon Society Birds of North America

8. White Mountain National Forest

This is a large area of forest that is centrally located in New Hampshire. 1,200 miles of trails and more than 20 campgrounds make this an excellent choice for bird watchers.

You can find a range of birds in the White Mountain National Forest, including raptors like the Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles. In the forest, you can expect to see woodpeckers, warblers, sparrows, and other birds. There are also Great Horned Owls that occur in the forest year-round.

9. Mount Tecumseh Trailhead

Mount Tecumseh is in Waterville, New Hampshire, and within the White Mountain National Forest. You can do an easy hike here, allowing you to look for birds and other wildlife.

Bird species you can find in the area include the following: Common Raven, Boreal Chickadee, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Bald Eagle, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Wild Turkey. Red Crossbills and Pine Grosbeaks have also been recorded in the area.

You can see vireos and warblers like the Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler.

10. Star Island and the Isles of Shoals

This is one of the bigger islands (38 acres in size) that is 7 miles out from the shore of New Hampshire. You can see many unusual birds on a boat trip to this island. The species list is 269 birds, which is impressive for such a small area.

Bird species to look for on Star Island include Roseate Tern, Black Guillemot, Harlequin Duck, Wilson’s Storm Petrol, and Common Eider. The eiders and guillemots breed on Star Island.

The island has ponds and trails that also pass through spruce trees. You can find many other birds here, including warblers and sparrows.

Shorebirds occur on the island, including Spotted Sandpipers, which nest here. Rare species like Clay-colored Sparrows and Black-throated Gray Warblers have also been spotted on the island in the past.

TIP: Check out my recommended products if you are looking for the best and trusted equipment for birdwatching in the wild or on your backyard (Amazon link):

11. Pickering Ponds

These are part of the Rochester Wastewater Treatment Plant. Hours are 9 am to 3 pm, and if you visit the ponds, you need to inform the staff. 

The area is known for its gulls, including species like the Glaucous Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Iceland Gull. Rare gulls like Thayer’s Gull have also been spotted here. Waterfowl like Ruddy Ducks and American Wigeon can be seen on the ponds. 

Best Time to Bird Watch in New Hampshire

People do bird watch at all times of the year in New Hampshire, but winters can be freezing. It does depend, though, on which species of birds you want to see and which time of year you should go out and bird.

RaptorsFall, specifically September to October
Snow Buntings and Lapland LongspursWinter
Best Time to Bird Watch in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Bird

Purple Finch - The State Bird of New Hampshire
Purple Finch – The State Bird of New Hampshire

The Purple Finch, Haemorhous purpureus, is the state bird of New Hampshire. The male Purple Finch is a pretty pink and red, while the female is brown. They are small birds that have conical-shaped bills because they are seed eaters.

These finches migrate south when winter arrives in New Hampshire to avoid the very cold conditions and snow that occur during that time of year.

Bird Watching Laws in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has laws protecting indigenous wild birds in the state. This protection extends to Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles.

You may not disturb the nests of these birds or interfere with their offspring or the adults in any way, including possessing or harming them.

My Favourite Equipment for Bird Watching

Bird watching is one of the least expensive hobbies out there, but you still need some equipment to get the most out of it. 

The essential equipment to start bird watching is a pair of binoculars. My preference is 8 X 42 binoculars. The number 8 is how much the magnification is, while 42 is the field of view in millimeters of the lenses.

A pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon is an excellent choice for both beginners and experts. 

In time, you can choose more expensive models and also opt to buy a spotting scope like the Celestron Ultima 80 on Amazon.

These are a lot more expensive compared with binoculars though, so if you are only a beginner, start with binoculars first. A spotting scope is only helpful for birds far away, such as out on a pond or seashore.

There are a few rules or guidelines you should abide by as an ethical birder. These are listed below.

  • Do not enter private lands without prior permission from landowners.
  • Follow all the rules in refuges and reserves, including cleaning up any garbage from your campsite.
  • Do not disturb birds on nests.
  • Do not use apps and play songs to call up birds when they are hungry, tired, and breeding during spring and summer.


New Hampshire offers the birder an opportunity to see birds in various habitats.

Despite not being a large state, you can find coastlines, rocky shores, sandy beaches, ponds, lakes, mountains, boreal forests, salt marshes, and freshwater marshes. You can see a lot of different birds in the state, making this a good place for a bird watching trip.

TIP: If you want to check out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Rae Osborn

Rae Osborn is an avid bird watcher and holds a doctorate in Biology. Her interests in birds began as a child growing up in South Africa. She has continued to study birds and has bird watched in the United States and South Africa.

Recent Posts