UMass Lowell--Boathouse

Tips for Birding

The University of Massachusetts Lowell Boathouse can be birded throughout the year, offering clear views of the Merrimack River in both directions. It is an easy place to stop briefly and scan for birds. Parking is available at the parking lot in front of the boathouse. If the lot is full, you can park on the shoulder of the road that is parallel to the river. During the winter this is an excellent location to find gulls. When the river is frozen over, 200-300 gulls concentrate on the ice. Uncommon gulls for the county frequent this location, including Glaucous, Iceland, and Lesser Black-backed. Winter ducks such as Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes, and Buffleheads are common.

During migration or any type of severe weather, this location is known to attract lost or ocean-favoring species such as Red-necked Grebe, Brant, Tufted Duck, or Great Cormorant. Bald Eagles, Red-tail and Cooper’s Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, and Merlins are typical here throughout the year.

I would suggest bringing a scope since you have a great view up and down the river from the parking lot. If the weather is nice, walk the path along the river looking for passerine species. Also, stop at the thicket area just beyond the Rourke Bridge, an ideal place to see various sparrow species.

About this Location

The University of Massachusetts Lowell Bellegarde Boathouse, which sits on the north bank of the Merrimack River adjacent to Pawtucket Boulevard (MA-113), provides one of the region’s most spectacular views of the waterfront and sunsets. Having recently undergone more than $1 million in renovations, this facility, with its 2,000-square-foot tented deck, is ideal for catering family gatherings, small wedding parties, rehearsal dinners, showers, corporate outings, or group retreats.

About Merrimack River

See all hotspots at Merrimack River

The Merrimack River is a 117-mile-long river in the northeastern United States. It rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows southward into Massachusetts, and then flows northeast until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport. From the point where the Merrimack turns northeast in Lowell, Massachusetts onward, the Massachusetts–New Hampshire border is roughly calculated as the line three miles north of the river.


  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Roadside viewing

  • Restrooms on site

  • Entrance fee

Content from University of Massachusetts Lowell Boathouse webpage and Daniel McDermott

Last updated January 9, 2024