The Newcomb-Minerva-North Hudson region offers fantastic boreal birding in the Adirondacks. This area has numerous hiking trails through boreal forest, wetlands, and marshes. Easy, roadside birding is also exciting since the main roads traverse boreal wilderness areas.
Some of the Region’s Bird Species
The sought-after boreal “trinity” species - Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee, attract birders to the Adirondacks year-round. The Newcomb-Minerva-North Hudson region is one of the best areas to find these species. It is also one of my favorite areas for bird guiding. On a recent tour with a couple who wanted to see a Black-backed Woodpecker, we found 6 during the morning in Newcomb and Minerva! During an early July tour with a group of women who wanted to see a Boreal Chickadee, we found fledglings just out of the nest along the northern end of the Roosevelt Truck Trail in Minerva! Like most fledglings, they lacked tails and had wavy bills. Not only did we have nice views of the Boreal Chickadees, but we were able to spend a long time watching a stationary fledgling on a branch intermittently being fed.
Each year, I find Black-backed Woodpecker nest sites in this area and last year, many of my clients were thrilled to see a young male being fed at the nest hole by the adult male and female. Once again this year, I found a nest site right along the road, so we’ll be able to observe the young woodpeckers as they grow up.
Other year-round species such as Red and White-winged Crossbills and Evening Grosbeaks can be found, with these species a bit easier to see during winter when the crossbills typically nest and grosbeaks are reliably visiting feeders. This past winter, a couple hundred Evening Grosbeaks could be found in the Newcomb area and Red Crossbills nested throughout this region.
This area also hosts 20 breeding warbler species! Cape May Warblers breed along the southern end of the Roosevelt Truck Trail in mature spruce-fir forest with little understory. It is one of only a few known locations to find this species in the Adirondacks.
With a mix of habitats, including wetlands, in the Newcomb-Minerva-North Hudson region, insect-eating flycatcher species are also abundant. Some of the flycatcher species found include: Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, and Eastern Kingbird.
Forest dwelling raptor species such as Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Northern Goshawk, can also be found. Many rivers (including the Hudson and Boreas Rivers) and lakes are home to Bald Eagles, Common Loons, and waterfowl such as Common and Hooded Mergansers.
The beautiful voices of thrushes can also be heard. Hermit, Swainson’s, and Bicknell’s Thrushes can be found at appropriate elevations.
Some of the Region’s Trails
Roosevelt Truck Trail in Minerva: This 2.5 mile long road-sized trail has fantastic, mature boreal forest. Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, and Boreal Chickadees can be found while hiking the trail. Raptors include Barred Owl, Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Northern Goshawk. Once again, a Sharp-shinned Hawk has taken up residence along the northern end of the trail. Many warbler species can be found including the rare Cape May Warbler. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers can be heard from the mossy-ground boreal forest. The long, loud song of the tiny Winter Wren is a dominant voice heard while hiking. The lovely, flute-like songs of Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes can also be heard.
Railroad Bed South on Route 28N in Minerva: Just a short walk south on the Minerva railroad bed leads to huge wetlands including beaver marshes and ponds on both sides of the tracks. Black-backed Woodpeckers and Boreal Chickadees can be found in the boreal forest surrounding the wetlands. Flycatcher species abound in this location including the sought after Olive-sided Flycatcher. Warblers fill the trees. In the marsh, Common Yellowthroats, Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows, and many flycatcher species are active.
Hewitt Eddy Trail in Minerva: This foot-path leads through boreal forest and links to the scenic Boreas River Trail for a possible loop hike. Black-backed Woodpeckers and Boreal Chickadees can be found, along with many other woodpecker and warbler species.
Vanderwhacker Mountain Trail in Minerva: The first mile of the trail (on relatively level terrain) is wonderful for birding with mixed forest and wetland habitats. Many warbler species can be found including Canada Warblers. After the first half-mile, two large marshes dominate the next half-mile. Olive-sided Flycatchers can be found in these beaver-created wetlands.
Cheney Pond-Lester Flow Trail in Minerva: This is a popular cross-country ski trail in winter, but it can also be hiked in spring, summer, and fall. There are Common Loons on Cheney Pond and Boreal Chickadees along the trail to Lester Flow.
Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) Trails in Newcomb: There is a network of scenic trails at the Newcomb AIC. The trails wind through mixed forest habitat with White Cedars and along lakes. Common Loons and many warbler and sparrow species can be found. Make sure you check the AIC bird feeders too!
These are just a few of the many hiking trails in this region, but you may find a favorite road-side birding location too. (I’ve found many!)
New York State recently purchased the 20,758 acre Boreas Ponds Tract in North Hudson, so stay tuned for lots more birding opportunities in this beautiful region!