With its vast stretches of protected dunes, stands of dense trees, and habitats ranging from marshes to grasslands, Cape Cod becomes a haven for winter activities, attracting a stunning variety of birds. The outer Cape, especially the Cape Cod National Seashore, is a stop-over point for birds migrating south during the fall and north during the spring. The autumn months are a prime time to catch rare birds like the American golden plover as they touch down briefly on our shores before continuing their impressive 10,000-mile journey to the southern hemisphere. But an impressively long list of birds make their home here year-round, undeterred by the chillier winter months, offering fantastic birdwatching adventures just a short drive or walk from downtown. Please take advantage of our lower off-season rates, pack your binoculars, and make our Provincetown bed and breakfast your home base for a wintertime birding adventure on our local trails.

Eastern Towhee, North TruroExperience Winter Activities: Birdwatching Delights from Forests to Dunes in Cape Cod

There’s no better place to kick off your birdwatching near Provincetown than at Beech Forest, just a mile from our location off Race Point Rd and a legendary spot among birders. The old-growth trees and ponds along the 1.1-mile Beech Forest trail loop are a gathering place for birds of all types  – you’re as likely to see a Canadian goose or mallard (the most common type of duck in North America) as you are different species of woodpeckers and the tufted titmouse, tiny and grey with intense black eyes. Wood warblers love to take a break in Beech Forest during their late winter migration north, so look out for their vibrant yellow plumage starting in March and into early spring. And keep your eye out for the black-capped chickadee, the Massachusetts state bird whose black head sticks out amongst a snowy landscape.

After your serene stroll through Beech Forest, head two miles down Province Lands Rd to the Hatches Harbor trailhead, where a 3-mile out-and-back trail traverses some of the most pristine coastline on the outer Cape. As you make your way along the dunes, you’ll likely see several types of shorebirds, including the great black-backed gull and herring gull, impressive with a wingspan of over 5 feet, allowing for effortless sailing on the sea breeze. Other commonly seen birds along this stretch of trail during winter are American robins and American goldfinches, whose vibrant canary-yellow coat turns gray-brown throughout the colder months. 

As you get closer to Race Point Light – at over two centuries old, it’s one of Cape Cod’s most well-preserved and often-photographed lighthouses – look out on the sloping dunes for piping plovers, which return to this area in late winter to breed. Protected by the Endangered Species Act, park rangers rope off parts of the dunes to allow the piping plovers to nest in pairs, leading to a successful rebound of their population. Once on the verge of disappearing, it’s heartening to catch sight of these adorable and delicate plovers tending to their offspring, who can’t take flight until 30 days after birth.

Wild turkey, Provincetown

Winter Activities in Wildlife Conservation: Embark on World-Class Birding in Wellfleet

On a different day, start the morning with our continental breakfast (served on Sat and Sun during the winter) before taking a scenic drive 30 minutes south to the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Known within the birding community as an IBA, or “important bird area,” the non-profit and nature-driven sanctuary is a verdant oasis with every type of habitat imaginable, from shaded forests of pine, oak, and hickory to bumbling brooks and marshland where saltwater and freshwater merge. 

Five miles of trails, easily accessible for all ages and physical abilities, provide up-close access to numerous species of birds ranging from the common (long-tailed duck) to the rare (Western tanager). Start your visit with a stop at the Visitor Center (open every day except Monday), where their knowledgeable staff and updated list of recent bird sightings will guide you toward the best spots for bird-viewing. The Boardwalk and Goose Pond trails are great places to start – in addition to birds, keep your eyes peeled for marine wildlife like Atlantic horseshoe crabs and diamondback terrapin turtles, both protected within the sanctuary. Admission to enter the Audubon center is required, with adults priced at $8.00, seniors at $5.00, and children at $3.00; members enjoy free entry.

For a distinctive touch to your winter activities, make plans to join one of their upcoming 2024 nighttime guided outings, such as the Full Moon Exploration on Feb 23rd, spotlighting nocturnal birds and animals, or the Owl Prowl on

Feb 17th and March 8th. Here, a naturalist will guide your group after dark, aiming to spot great horned owls and Eastern screech owls. In a world where habitats are rapidly vanishing, this Wellfleet wildlife sanctuary serves as a vital reminder of the significance of conservation—one bird, one turtle, and one crab at a time. Additionally, please note that these nighttime guided outings have an admission fee; for members, the charge is $14, while non-members are required to pay $18. Registration is necessary to participate in these unique experiences.

MacMillan Pier – Just Minutes Away and Where the Seabirds Gather

It’s hiding in plain sight, but one of the best spots for birdwatching is at the MacMillan Pier, just a few blocks from our location. Plan to grab coffee one morning at Kohi Coffee Company and stroll back along Commercial St to the marina, where you’ll see ducks and gulls amongst the fishing boats – floating, swimming, basking under the bright winter sun, and hunting around for their next meal. Common loons are frequently seen near the pier, hard to miss with their large size and long, pointy bill. Horned grebes are another distinctive bird you’ll likely see – their blazingly bright plumage goes grey in wintertime, but their fierce red eyes are unmistakable. From the nearby dunes and wooded acres to marshland and along the marina, magnificent birds and natural beauty abound in Provincetown.

Stay with us and discover the magic of wintertime trail adventures and birdwatching in Provincetown!