Winter Bird-watching at Newton’s Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers

Many waterbirds that breed in Canada or northern New England fly south for the winter.  Until they freeze, Newton’s ponds and lakes, and the Charles River, provide attractive habitats for these birds. (Read a Boston Globe article about birds that visit the Boston area in winter.)

Hooded Merganser couple in the Charles

Hammond Pond, the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and the Charles River along Quinobequin Road are great places to look for these birds.  But if you’d like some guidance about what birds can currently be found where, a free smartphone app called the Audubon Bird Guide can be of great help.

The app, published by the National Audubon Society, can show you a map of birding “hotspots” in Newton and vicinity:

click to see a larger image

If you tap on a hotspot, you’ll see a page showing recent bird sightings at the location.  The app shows that on a single day, January 8, 2023, birders reported seeing 28 different species at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, including the Great Black-backed Gull, Common Merganser, American Coot, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ruddy Duck, and Greater Scaup.  The previous day, lucky bird-watchers saw a Bald Eagle and a Peregrine Falcon.

Data shown in the app comes from, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Info about a hotspot can also be viewed on the EBird website.  Here’s the page for Hammond Pond.

If you’d like some help identifying a bird you’ve seen or heard, a good resource is the Cornell lab’s smartphone app, Merlin Bird ID.  The Bird ID feature goes through a list of questions about the bird (location, size, color, etc.) to help identify it.  The Sound ID feature listens to the bird’s call and matches it to a database of bird recordings.


Image gallery

Click on any image to see a slide show

Learn more about some of these birds…

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

American Coot



Other birding resources

iNaturalist (California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society)

David Sibley Guides