After an unseasonably mild winter, spring has sprung early in the Blue Hills, and as a result bird-watching has begun earlier than anticipated.  Spring is one of the best times to catch sight of some of the great species the Blue Hills have to offer, as birds are establishing their territories, however once they make their nests they tend to become more secretive.  Whether you’re an avid birder, or just interested in trying out a fun, slightly unusual hobby look no further than the Blue Hills Reservation.

You’ll find some of the best bird-watching in the Boston area in the westernmost portion of the Reservation along Burma Road in an area called Fowl Meadow.  This hike is a great jumping off point for birders of all levels as the 2.5 mile path takes you through remarkably varied habitats.  Keep an eye out for the beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the wetlands of Fowl Meadow, as well as dozens of warbler species including the Pine Warbler, which makes its nest in the many white pines in the area.   You’ll find parking at the lot near Paul’s Bridge at the intersection of Brush Hill Rd and Neponset Valley Parkway in Milton.

Another great birding spot is along Ponkapoag Pond trail in the south of the reservation where a wide variety of water birds make their nests.  Look for large shrubby trees to spot the Willow Fly Catcher, or just listen for its easily recognized, and enticing two-note call that sounds an awful lot like “free-beer”.    The best place to park is at the lot at 1060 Randolph Street in Canton.

Finally, some of the best birding trails in the reservation are atop Tucker and Buck Hills in the Houghton Pond section of the park, easily accessible by the Skyline trail which goes directly across both peaks.  Here you’ll find a variety of woodpeckers, warblers and the beautiful Indigo Bunting, easily distinguished by its iridescent light blue feathers.  You can park on the lots at either end of the Skyline trail between Hillside St. and Rt. 28 in Quincy,

If you’d like other ideas for exploring the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation, visit the Friends of the Blue Hills suggested trails page.

Photo Credit for yellow warbler:  Robert Mussey, Milton