Birding

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Birding

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is home to a vast number of bird species, both native and migratory. There are numerous sites and facilities where you can view and learn about birds. The Heritage Area is especially noted for its location along the Kittatiny Flyway, one of the nation’s most significant migratory bird routes. There are numerous wildlife preserves, gamelands, and arboreta that provide important bird habitat and make great birdwatching locations.

WHERE TO SEE BIRDS

Birders of all experience levels and interests will find that there are places throughout the Heritage Area that provide excellent birdwatching opportunities. On the border of Berks and Schuylkill Counties in the Kittatiny Ridge region is Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a key area for viewing birds of prey on their migratory routes. The Blue Mountain Wildlife Refuge outside Hamburg is home to a variety of plants, animals, and birds and provides walking trails. The Black Rock Wildlife Sanctuary and the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove are great viewing locations in the Valley Forge/Phoenixville areas. In Philadelphia, Fairmount Park, Bartram’s Garden, and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum are great locations to view a variety of bird species.

There are 6 State Parks in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, all with trails and extensive woodland and other bird habitat. County and municipal parks also provide great opportunities for birders to enjoy some of the region’s outdoor assets.

There are several PA Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the Heritage Area that provide excellent birding opportunities. These areas include Hawk Mountain, Lake Ontelaunee, Blue Marsh Recreation Area, Unami Creek, Green Lane Park, French Creek State Park, Fairmount Park and John Heinz NWR.

SRHA worked with the Delaware Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center on the Eastern Pennsylvania Birding and Wildlife Guide to provide birders with more information about where to best view birds and other wildlife in the region.

BIRDING ETHICS AND CONSERVATION

  • Observe from a distance, especially around nests. If the birds alter their behavior because of you, you are too close.
  • Stay on trails or roads to avoid damaging habitat or disturbing nests.
  • Stay out of restricted areas and private property
  • Do not use recorded calls to attract birds
  • Take only photos, leave only footprints–carry out what you carried in, dispose of wastes properly, minimize your impact on the site
  • Respect others using the site
  • Spend as much money on conservation as you do on birding, especially support the parks and refuges where you bird
  • Share your experiences–allowing a novice to look through your spotting scope could make a convert for conservation

Birders should also be well prepared for their trip and mindful of their surroundings when in the field.

  • Be sure to bring a map of the area you plan to bird
  • Tell a friend of family member where you plan to go and when you expect to return
  • If birding during the fall or winter, be mindful of hunting seasons, especially in and around State Parks and State Game Lands. Wear blaze orange outerwear if you intend to be outside during these times.
  • Wear proper clothing and footwear
  • Check the weather before leaving

What Kind of Equipment will you need?

Birders will need a good set of binoculars, a field guide, perhaps a camera, and a checklist or notebook to record your findings. The National Audubon Society provides information about how to get started, choose your binoculars, and find the right guide.

Birding Sites on the Trail

Lower Merion Conservancy

The Lower Merion Conservancy was formed in September 1995, when the Lower Merion-Narberth Watershed Association merged into the Lower Merion Preservation Trust, and organizations joined forces as the new...

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Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative

The Schuylkill Highlands is one of seven ‘Conservation Landscape Initiative’ regions in Pennsylvania,and as the name suggests, includes the Schuylkill River Watershed for the most part and the southeastern...

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Green Valleys Association

Green Valleys Association is a watershed conservancy in Northern Chester County devoted to the protection of water quality and quantity. the GVA stewardship area encompasses 155 square miles of...

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John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is located near the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers about 1 mile from the Philadelphia International Airport. Over the...

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Destination Schuylkill River

Destination Schuylkill River celebrates life along the River and seeks to connect our communities to the river through planning, programming and projects. What is there to do? How can...

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Riverbend Environmental Education Center

Dedicated to the principle of inspiring people to care for the Earth, Riverbend’s mission is to stimulate awareness, appreciation and understanding of our total environment, and to preserve a...

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Lorimer Park

This 250 acre oasis of woods and meadows, in the suburbs of eastern Abington Township, attracts visitors to its natural beauty year-round. A bequest from the late George Horace...

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Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve

Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve is a 234-acre oasis of meadows, woodlands and wetlands nestled among the quickly developing suburbs of Blue Bell and North Wales. After more than a century...

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Fort Washington State Park

Rich in modern recreational facilities and historical significance, Fort Washington blossoms with flowering dogwood in the spring. Birders enjoy the seasonal migration of raptors along Militia Hill from the...

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Evansburg State Park

Evansburg State Park is in southcentral Montgomery County between Norristown and Collegeville. Evansburg offers a significant area of green space and relative solitude in an urbanized area. Its main...

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Upper Schuylkill Valley Park

The Schuylkill River in Upper Providence Township forms a natural backdrop to this 15-acre display of wild animals and raptors indigenous to Pennsylvania. Picnicking and fishing are popular along...

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Peter Wentz Farmstead

The Peter Wentz Farmstead was established by Peter and Rosanna Wentz, who began farming here in 1744. By 1758, they had completed the large, Georgian style stone house that...

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Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy

The Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy is a nonprofit organization founded in 1964 by local citizens to combat pollution in the Perkiomen Creek and its tributaries. We provide an integrated approach...

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Pennypacker Mills

Pennypacker Mills offers a unique opportunity to experience the pleasures of country life in the 1900’s when the Governor of Pennsylvania lived across the Perkiomen Creek from the Borough...

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Green Lane Park

Green Lane Park offers fishing, boating, picnicking, horseback riding trails, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, family/organized group camping, equestrian camping, tennis, playgrounds, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing....

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Central Perkiomen Valley Park

Central Perkiomen Valley Park is an 800 acre park that extends over 10 municipalities, offering a wide variety of family activities. Visitors can enjoy a children’s playground as well...

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Welkinweir / Green Valley Association

Welkinweir, the former estate of Everett and Grace Rodebaugh is a 197-acre garden and arboretum that serves as the headquarters and educational center of the Green Valleys Association. For...

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Warwick County Park

Warwick County Park includes numerous trails and meadows that offer bountiful opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding and bird watching. The day use area offers picnic pavilions and numerous...

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Mill at Anselma

Nestled along the Pickering Creek in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, the Mill at Anselma is an extraordinary artifact of 250 years of Chester County’s industrial heritage. Constructed in c. 1747...

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Historic Yellow Springs

The history of Yellow Springs Village spans nearly 300 years. The Native Lenape first attributed the name, “Yellow Springs” because of the natural mineral springs that flow through the...

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French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park is one of 6 State Parks in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, and one of the best places for outdoor recreation, rest, and relaxation in...

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Binky Lee Preserve

Binky Lee Preserve is an 112-acre expanse of former agricultural land that is being converted back to more natural woodlands and meadows. A walk along the trails here provides...

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Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center

The Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center offers environmental education programs. The center covers more than 665 acres of beautiful deciduous woodlands and coniferous plantations. Operated by the Pennsylvania Department...

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Gring’s Mill Recreation Area

The historic buildings at Gring’s Mill Recreation Area house the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department’s administration and maintenance offices. An information center, group meeting facilities, snack bar, and...

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Bear Creek Environmental Area & Dr. James S. Shadle Nature Center

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of PA, the Dr. James S. Shadle Nature Center and the Bear Creek Environmental Area help people to connect with their natural heritage and...

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Tuscarora State Park

When viewed from the lake or the day use area, Locust Mountain seems to drop right into the southern side of Tuscarora Lake. The scenic picnic area plays host...

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Locust Lake State Park

Known for its popular camping area, Locust Lake State Park nestles on the side of Locust Mountain. The 52-acre Locust Lake is located between two campgrounds and is surrounded...

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Daniel Boone Homestead

Daniel Boone is an American legend, and he developed his love of nature, and inquisitive nature on his family’s farm in the Oley Valley. After Daniel’s father, Squire Boone,...

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Wissahickon Valley Park

One of the most heavily industrialized creeks in America, the Wissahickon Creek and its impressive valley were home to dozens of mills and factories throughout the 18th and 19th...

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Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park was officially founded in 1855 when the Lemon Hill estate was dedicated as a public park and renamed Fairmount Park. Support came from 2,400 citizens who signed...

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Perkiomen Trail

The 19-mile Perkiomen Trail runs through the Perkiomen Creek Valley from its junction with the Schuylkill River Trail at Oaks, Upper Providence Township to the largest County Park, Green...

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Berks County Heritage Center

The Heritage Center is located along the Tulpehocken Creek west of Reading and is home to the Gruber Wagon Works, a National Historic Landmark, the C. Howard Hiester Canal...

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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, located along the Appalachian Flyway in east-central Pennsylvania, offers an outstanding, year-round nature experience with educational displays, 8 miles of hiking trails and mountaintop vistas where...

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Black Rock Sanctuary

The Black Rock Sanctuary is located along a bend in the Schuylkill and was used by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a basin for settling coal silt out of...

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Norristown Farm Park

The Norristown Farm Park is a 690 acre Park owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is operated and maintained by Montgomery County. The area that encompasses Norristown Farm...

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Appalachian Trailhead

Port Clinton is a small town with a big story. The town of 300 sits in the gap where the Schuylkill River cuts through the in the Appalachian Mountains,...

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Blue Marsh Lake

Blue Marsh Lake is a man-made lake along the Tulpehocken Creek that features numerous boating, hiking, biking, and birdwatching opportunities. It is maintained by the Philadelphia District, U.S. Army...

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Allegheny Aqueduct Historical Park

The Allegheny Aqueduct was built by the Schuylkill Navigation Company in 1824 under the direction of Engineer Ephriam Beech. This “bridge for boats” was needed because the Allegheny Creek...

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Schuylkill Canal Lock 60

Lock 60 of the Schuylkill Canal is one of only two sections of the Schuylkill Navigation System that are still watered, and the only operating lock remaining on the...

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Lower Perkiomen Valley Park

Lower Perkiomen Valley Park is a sylvan setting of 107 acres at the confluence of the Perkiomen Creek and Schuylkill River. The Perkiomen Trail and Schuylkill River Trails intersect...

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John James Audubon at Mill Grove

Today, 175 acres of Mill Grove’s original estate remains largely as Audubon found it – a haven for birds and wildlife. The property boasts more than seven miles of...

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Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. The park commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation and honors the...

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Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

The Schuylkill Center is the largest tract of privately owned land in the City of Philadelphia. Located on the border of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, SCEE is a wonderful...

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Bartram’s Garden

On this site more than 250 years ago, John Bartram, a Quaker farmer, was stopped in his tracks by a daisy while plowing his fields. The plant’s simplicity and...

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Laurel Hill Cemetery

Established in 1836, Laurel Hill is one of Philadelphia’s premier historic landmarks and one of the only cemeteries in the United States to be honored as a National Historic...

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