where can birds be found

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You’ll eventually be prepared to travel further to see some new, distinct birds. But where to go, you ask? Here are five quick ways to find the best spots in your area.

When you become an avid birdwatcher, one of the most profound realizations is that birds can be found everywhere, including the South Pole, the Amazon, and the Bronx. Wherever you live, birds live there, too. The first step is to simply pay attention.

Check out nearby national or state parks. Some are less ideal for birding, because they were set up for appreciating features (geologic formations, historic buildings, the Statue of Liberty) rather than wildlife. But you’ll find interesting birds in most parks and open spaces. The National Park Service has an excellent map to help plan your adventure, and you can pinpoint state parks on the America’s State Parks website.

For sheer information on where to find birds, nothing beats eBird. Since its launch in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, its quickly become one of the world’s largest citizen science projects, and is now used by hundreds of thousands of birders who enter their sightings into a single database. You don’t need an account to access eBird’s wonders. Just go to eBird.org, click on “Explore Data,” and choose how you’d like to view the information. The “Explore a Region” option will show you which bird species have been seen in any country, state, or county; “Explore Hotspots” displays an interactive map of specific locations. Better yet, sign in and add your own sightings. It’s free and slightly addicting.

Birds are found in almost every type of habitat, from the deepest deserts to the highest mountains, on land, in freshwater, and in the sea. Our understanding of bird species can reveal a great deal about global conditions and broader biodiversity. Basic biogeographic factors determine patterns of bird diversity, with tropical regions—particularly those in South America—supporting the highest species richness. The global distribution of bird species is determined by encircling the areas where all known bird species breed and overwinter.

The key factors that have driven global patterns in biological diversity are hotly debated. It is believed that the vast geographic variations in bird species diversity arise from the various environments encountered throughout the course of evolution. The variety (and area) of distinct habitats that are present has a particularly significant impact. Because tropical forests are particularly species-rich, the equatorial regions have exceptionally high levels of avian diversity. Other significant factors include biotic constraints like rival species and natural enemies, climatic events like the recent glacial cycles, physical barriers like impassable mountains and oceans, and, more recently, the growing and pervasive effects of humans. These basic biogeographic factors also affect the distributions of other taxa, though they are not as well-known as those of birds. Because of this, birds are a good place to start when mapping endemism and species richness on a large scale.

But the distribution of birds is not uniform; the number and variety of bird species found in each biogeographic realm varies significantly (see map). The Neotropical realm is by far the richest, holding c 36% of all known landbird species. This is followed by the Afrotropical (c. 21%), Indomalayan (c. 18%), Australasian (c. 17%), and then the Palearctic (c. 10%), Nearctic (c. 8%) and Oceanic (c. 2%) realms. The Pacific islands in the Oceanic region are exceptionally rich for their size, despite having comparatively few species overall; collectively, they contain 20 times more species per unit area than South America, the richest continent (Newton 2003). Based on unpublished data from BirdLife International, the countries with the highest diversity of avian species are Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and Indonesia (all having over 1,500 species). These countries are followed by Bolivia, Venezuela, China, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Tanzania, Kenya, and Argentina (all having around 1,000 species or more).

BirdLife International recognizes over 10,000 different species of birds worldwide, the majority (c 80%) occurring in continental regions, the remainder on islands. Birds can be found at the highest and lowest points of land, as well as in a wide range of habitats. The world is home to a vast diversity of land, aquatic, and marine bird species, and even the smallest countries have abundant bird populations. Given their significance to the world’s ecosystems, birds’ populations can provide valuable insights into environmental conditions.


Where can you find most birds?

Country / region
Bird species count