Thanks to Leslie Reed Evans, director of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, for this bird watching walk.
Williamstown offers a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy birds and bird-watching. Many of the areas are close to the center of town. The following list gives a general overview of habitat and a list of the most common species seen.
In all of the spots listed, expect to see these common species: White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, Eastern Phoebe, House Wren, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, American Goldfinch, House Finch
For a PDF of all locations, click here.
Williams College Athletic Fields at Cole Field
Check the pond to the south of the parking area for Great Blue and Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, a variety of swallows, Chimney Swifts, and during migration, other dabbling ducks and Osprey.
The trees at the edge of the pond and the oak and sycamore trees opposite along the drive are frequented by Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Kingbird.
The wetlands along the south end of the pond may yield Swamp and Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, and in the woody edge, American Redstart. Listen for Northern Flicker, Pileated, and Red-bellied Woodpecker in the deeper woods above the pond. Songbirds include Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Veery.
On the field itself you may find American Crow and occasional Ring-billed Gulls. Red-tailed and Sharp-shinned Hawk and Turkey and Black Vulture soar overhead.
Walk across the field toward the smaller pond and along the wood edge to add Gray Catbird, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, and Barred Owl. Listen for Willow Flycatcher in the wetland behind the small pond. Black and White Warblers are common in the riparian woods.
There are several paths to the Hoosic River from the field. The most direct is the paved drive which leads to the back of the field. Take a left onto the gravel road and walk along the river. Common Merganser, Spotted Sandpiper, Belted Kingfisher, Kildeer, and Black Duck are common residents. Bald Eagle is often seen along the Hoosic River corridor.
Less common species include: Orchard Oriole, Bohemian Waxwing (winter), many warblers during spring migration, American Bittern in the cattails of the large pond, Greater Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper, and other interesting sandpiper and plover species in late summer on the mud-flats at the river bend.
Linear Park north
The Town of Williamstown owns land in several places along the Green River designated as Linear Park.
Across from the Maple Terrace Motel on Route 2 just before a brick office building, walk down the gravel road and continue to the Town tennis court.
Listen for Carolina Wren, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, and all six woodpecker species in the large trees surrounding this area.
Leave the parking lot and follow the gravel road into the park and along a berm. In spring, look for Wood and other ducks in the stream to the right of the berm and in the tangle to the left of the berm look for Common Yellowthroat and Song Sparrow. During the winter, this is a good place for Tree and White-throated Sparrows.
Continue to the end of the drive. To the right a road leads into cornfields. To the left is a path to the confluence of the Green and Hoosic Rivers. This is a good place for warblers during spring migration.
Heading right to the cornfield, look for resident species including Eastern Bluebird, Song Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, all Woodpecker varieties, Red-tail Hawk and Red-winged Blackbird. During the winter Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, Rough-legged Hawk, and Common Raven are possible.
Head toward the river for woodpeckers, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Brown Creeper. The Hoosic River may yield Great Blue Heron, Common Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, American Crow, Common Grackle, Spotted Sandpiper, and Mallard, Black, and Wood Duck. Osprey (during migration) and Bald Eagle (all year) are fairly common along the river corridor.
Stone Hill/Clark Art
The trail system winds through the woods to the top of the open pasture, with opportunities for woodland, edge and field species. A trail map is available at the museum.
This route begins by walking up the path through the woods. Listen for Wood Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Redstart, woodpeckers and often a Barred Owl. Where the trail follows the woodland edge, listen for Gray Catbird, Indigo Bunting, Cedar Waxwing, and Chestnut-sided Warbler, as well as the more common woodland birds. Take a right at the top to reach a gate into the pasture.
There is good viewing of the trees at the field edge; scan them for Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and Indigo Bunting. Woodpeckers, especially the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, are often seen in the trees in the pasture at the top.
Take a moment to enjoy the view over Williamstown before walking back down the hill through the pasture. Watch for a variety of species flying overhead. Although the pasture isn’t rich enough for their nesting, occasionally a Bobolink can be seen. Check the hedgerows for Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe and Red-winged Blackbird.
Williams College Hopkins Memorial Forest, Northwest Hill Road
Begin birding at the parking area. Listen for Louisiana Waterthrush and Winter Wren in the nearby stream. All 6 woodpecker species, Brown Creeper, House Wren, American Redstart, Least Flycatcher and Veery are all likely here.
Walk up the drive and look for Tree Swallow, eastern Bluebird, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warbler. The apple trees to the left of the drive are a good place to look for other warbler species, such as Magnolia, and Northern Parula, during migration.
Around the Center look for birds associated with mature woodlands perched on snags, including Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Indigo Bunting.
The trails in Hopkins Forest offer opportunity for birding in both mature hardwood forest and conifer plantations. Deep-wood species are abundant in spring; in addition to those already mentioned Red-eyed, Blue-headed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Wood Thrush, Wood Peewee, Barred Owl, Purple Finch, Black-throated Green, Blue, and Black and White Warblers, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawk. Hermit Thrush and Ruffed Grouse are possible at the higher elevations of the forest.
Sheep Hill, Cold Spring Road (Route 7) a conservation property and headquarters of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, a land conservation trust. Its expansive meadow with hedgerows and a small pond yield birds all year round. American Kestrel, Eastern Towhee, Wilson’s Snipe, Field and Savannah Sparrow, and Barn Swallow are some of the less common birds found here. Trails on the hill allow very accessible bird-watching and the view of Mt. Greylock from the top of the hill is stunning.
Field Farm, Sloan Road, a property of The Trustees of Reservations
A wide mix of habitats make this conservation property a great destination for birds and nature viewing. Check the wetlands for Green and Great-blue Heron, Wood Duck and nesting Canada Geese, and during migration Greater Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper.
The hay fields on both sides of Sloan Road will yield Bobolink. Other uncommon species include American Kestrel, Brown Thrasher, and a great variety of warblers including Chestnut-sided. Check the apple trees near the Guest House for Eastern Bluebirds. Unusual winter birds include Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing and winter finches.