Best Places for Bird Watching in Kentucky

Trees River Arial view
Given that Kentucky is the birthplace of renowned artist and naturalist John J. Audubon, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of amazing hotspots for bird watchers throughout Kentucky.  Depending on what time of year you come, you can see a variety of nesting birds, waterfowl, raptors, and more.  Kentucky is also home to the John James Audubon State Park, located on the Ohio River in Henderson, itself a spectacular destination for bird watching.  Beyond this park, there are recreational areas all across the state, from the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in the west, to the Appalachians in the east, that provide a variety of excellent bird watching habitats.  Start planning your bird watching adventure in Kentucky this spring or summer, and make sure to include one of Kentucky's finest Bed and Breakfasts in those plans. We'll start your day off with a dose of southern hospitality and a filling breakfast, and end it with a comfortable home away from home. Find a Bed and Breakfast, and book your vacation today!

Bird Watching Destinations

In a state as vast and diverse as Kentucky, you'll find that there are excellent bird watching destinations in every major region of the state.   John James Audubon State Park in Henderson is one of the most obvious places to enjoy some casual birding. There are several hiking trails throughout the park There's also a museum on-site, featuring the lives and work of John James Audubon and his family. There are three galleries that chronicle the Audubon story. The galleries also feature over 200 objects on display, which include artifacts from Audubon's Kentucky years, a complete set of his masterwork, The Birds of America, and many original artworks. Other great places for bird watching in Kentucky include:

  • Sloughs Wildlife Management Area, Sauerheber Unit. This is one of the most popular bird watching destinations in all of Kentucky, and is located on the Ohio River just west of Henderson. The site's bird list of around 250 includes many species of geese, ducks, wading birds, and shorebirds. A visit during the winter might even reward you with a glimpse of the Greater White-fronted Goose and Tundra Swan. Bald Eagles are around all year long, and during the spring you can find species such as American Bittern, Least Bittern, King Rail, Virginia Rail, and Sora, as well as 20 or more kinds of shorebirds. Wildlife-viewing platforms are placed along Highway 268, and there's an observation tower at Anderson Pond.
  • Falls of the Ohio State Park. During the drier summer months, you can easily find shorebirds here, including American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, and many varieties of Sandpipers. Many visitors have also been lucky enough to see Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon here during the summer months near the falls. While you're there, don't miss the spectacular show of Devonian-age fossils exposed on the rocky river bottom, best seen from June to November when water levels are low.
  • Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. This is one of the biggest tracts of undeveloped land in the state of Kentucky, and according home to a great variety of birds and waterfowl. The huge lakes provide excellent habitat for waterfowl and gulls, and Osprey and Bald Eagle nest in the area. In late winter, flocks of Sandhill Cranes pass through, and American White Pelican is common in spring and fall. The surrounding forests and grasslands are also the perfect habitat for a variety of songbirds.
  • Red River Gorge Geological Area. This area is well-known for its beautiful rock formations, but it's hardwood forests are also filled with nesting birds, making it the perfect place for a quiet day of bird watching.In the Rock Bridge area, you'll find Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wood Thrush, a variety of warblers, and Scarlet Tanager.
  • Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest. This beautiful 14,000 acre forest is home to around 180 different species of birds, and accordingly is a popular bird watching spot just outside of Louisville. Some of the forest's more famous inhabitants are Blue-winged Warbler, Henslow's Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Cooper's Hawk, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Orchard Oriole, and Baltimore Oriole.
It's also worth noting that Kentucky has a birding trail; the Kentucky Audubon Birding Trail, which includes 3 major stops for the avid bird watcher.  After a day of enjoying nature, come back to the restful accommodations provided by our member Bed and Breakfasts.  No where else will you enjoy the attentive, personal service of our Innkeepers.  Find your room with us today.