If spotting or photographing birds and wildlife is your thing, the Berkshires more than fit the bill. Whitetail deer, Black Bear, foxes and coyotes, possums and porcupines, and yes, even the occasional moose, all call the Berkshire hills home. Add the almost un-ending assortment of songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors, (like this one here, photgraphed at Jiminy) and you would be hard-pressed to match the Berkshires in terms of volume or variety.
Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is located just one mile from the center of Pittsfield and attracts a variety of birds such as bobolinks, ospreys, and great blue herons at different times of the year. Three miles of trails wind through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River. Keep your eyes open for signs of beavers, otters, and wild turkeys while exploring Canoe Meadows. Canoe Meadows is an unstaffed sanctuary with no public facilities but the trails are open to the public with an admission fee of $3.00 for non-member adults, $2.00 for non-member children and free to all members.
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
Pleasant Valley’s thriving beaver population is one of the many fascinating features of this sanctuary. When you walk along Yokun Brook, take note of the “lodges” of tree branches and mud, where these nocturnal creatures spend their days. Salamander migrations are a major spring event along West Mountain Road. Seven miles of trails that wind through hardwood forest, meadows, wetlands, and along the slopes of Lenox Mountain make this site an excellent location for hiking. If you’re interested in canoeing, guided trips are offered weekly on the Housatonic and area lakes from mid-May through early October (equipment is provided).
One of the smallest states in the nation, Massachusetts has one of the largest state park systems. Our state forests and parks offer recreation opportunities for all interests and abilities. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Managment oversees 25 State Parks in Berkshire County alone, many of which may provide ample wildlife viewing opportunities.
MassWildlife Wildlife Management Areas
MassWildlife oversees several Wildlife Management Areas in Berkshire county that are great for wildlife viewing. Please be aware that these are wildlife management areas, not parks, and do not have marked trails. These areas should only be entered by experienced outdoorsmen.
The mountains of Berkshire County have the highest elevation in the state, and are home to a number of northern breeding species, such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blackpoll and Mourning warblers. There are many fine locations in the Berkshires to watch migrating hawks in autumn, and irruptive northern finches are more likely to be found in Berkshire County than in any other part of the state.
The Massachusetts Audubon Society is the largest conservation organization in New England, concentrating its efforts on protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. Mass Audubon also maintains a listing of recent bird sightings in Berkshire County and statewide, including the species sighted and the location of the sighting.