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Winter Bird Watching on Cape Ann is an Off-Season Delight

Cape Ann Bird Watching -- A flock of Razorbills. Photo: Pixabay
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Things to Do on Cape Ann

Did you know that Cape Ann is a bird watching paradise, especially in the off-season? Even the middle of winter is a wonderful time to catch sight of the wide variety of migrating waterfowl and coastline birds that visit our rugged shores each year.

What Birds You Might See

In addition to a variety of gulls, avid birders keep their eyes open for such species as Harlequin Duck, King Eider, Pacific Loon, Northern Gannet, Horned Grebe, Great Cormorant, Common Eider, Common and Red-throated Loons. As the seasons turn, as many as 27 species of shorebirds come through Cape Ann, either as their final destination or as a pit stop on their migratory paths north and then south again.  


A Horned Grebe. Photo: Pixabay
A Horned Grebe. Photo: Pixabay

There are many beaches, parks and reservation lands along the North Shore that are considered "hot spots" for bird watching:  

  • Rockport, MA: Halibut Point State Park has 2.5 miles of trails around the former Babson Farm Quarry and down to the rocky shore.
  • Gloucester, MA: Ravenswood Park has 10 miles of nature trails, criscrossing 600 acres.
  • Gloucester, MA: Jodrey Fish Pier is a natural magnet for all types of shore birds, particularly gulls.
  • Gloucester, MA: The Bass Rocks area of the Back Shore is a good birding spot.
  • Newburyport, MA: Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center offers a variety of birding programs, including the "Superbowl of Birding" and a "Birder's Certificate" course. 
  • Plum Island, MA: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge offers a checklist of refuge birds to find on your self-guided tour.
  • Ipswich, MA: Crane Beach has a nationally recognized shorebird protection program and is one of the world's most important nesting sites for piping plovers.
An adult Northern Gannet at rest on the water. Photo: 7 Seas Whale Watch
An adult Northern Gannet at rest on the water. Photo: 7 Seas Whale Watch

The Winter Birding Boat Trip

In late winter each year, 7 Seas Whale Watch and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce co-host a Winter Birding Boat Trip. This four-hour excursion aboard 7 Seas' flagship vessel, the Privateer IV, along with expert guides who will help identify the winter sea birds you will observe.

For information on the most recent bird activity in the area, the American Birding Association maintains a very active list of reported Bird Sightings in Massachusetts.

Where to Stay For Your Cape Ann Winter Birding Vacation

Atlantic Vacation Homes offers a wide variety of vacation rental homes across Cape Ann that would be perfect for your Cape Ann birdwatching getaway. To book your accommodations, simply view available rentals and enter your desired dates to get a quote. You can also call toll-free at (855) 853-9143 to speak with a Guest Experience Specialist.

Atlantic Vacation Homes (AVH) is the premier vacation home rental & real estate company on Boston's North Shore, with over 30 years of creating dream vacations for our guests. Situated a little more than a half-hour’s drive from downtown Boston, the North Shore is the ideal spot for an east coast vacation. We specialize in coastal vacation rentals for families, large groups, and anyone else who wants a beach vacation in Massachusetts.