The Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area (RRMSEA) of the Auburn Trail Extension offers exceptional birding opportunities on an easy, flat trail. Along the short trail section, and adjacent areas, over 130 species (48 of which are documented breeders) have been recorded. Birds are drawn to RRMSEA because of its habitat diversity and geography. The footpath passes through a linear meadow of grasses and wildflowers, beside wetlands of various sorts, as well as woodlands, and shrub thickets.  The “wilderness-like” setting of RRMSEA is in the Upper Irondequoit Creek Valley,  and  is part of a contiguous, several-mile long riparian corridor. In fall there is an abundance of fruiting trees and shrubs: poison ivy, wild grape, dogwoods, and others, as well as an great variety of grass seeds that attract sparrows and other seed eaters.


Nesting birds include mourning, blue-winged (including “Brewster’s),  and chestnut-sided warblers,  alder and willow flycatchers, yellow-throated vireo, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole, indigo bunting, Virginia rail, wood duck, and belted kingfisher.


The trail can be ‘birdy’ at any season, but spring and fall migration are particularly good times to visit.   Several Rochester Birding Association members have enjoyed some of the region’s best fall birding (for landbirds - warblers in particular) along this section of the Auburn Trail. Twenty-six species of warblers, including the locally rare orange-crowned warbler, have been seen during migration.  Other noteworthy species include wild turkey, purple finch, fox sparrow, Northern shrike, five species of vireo (Philadelphia vireo is regular in fall), green heron, scarlet tanager, rusty blackbird, osprey, bald eagle,  pileated woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, winter and Carolina wren, and an excellent variety of sparrows.  Sparrows and other seed eating birds are drawn to the linear meadow.  We have seen up to 8 sparrow species in a single outing (five in one scope view), feeding on the grass seeds in the meadow,  and getting grit in the footpath.  


If the planned trail widening occurs, the linear meadow - and the food and cover it now offers for sparrows and other seed eating birds – will be eliminated.

Fox Sparrow

Photos © Steven Daniel and Chuck Schleigh

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about Birding this area


Blackburnian Warbler

Northern Flicker

Eastern Screech Owl

Baltimore Oriole

Mourning Warbler


Nesting Species

Green Heron

Wood Duck

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail

Belted Kingfisher

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Great Crested Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher

Red-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Blue Jay

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

House Wren

Eastern Bluebird


Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Cedar Waxwing

Blue-winged Warbler

(Including Brewster’s 2005-2008)

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Eastern Towhee

Swamp Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Baltimore Oriole

American Goldfinch

Red-winged Blackbird