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Birdwatching at Bald Eagle State Park
Actually named after a Native American chieftain, Bald Eagle State Park is, as the name suggests, an excellent spot for bird watching and catching sight of our rare national bird. This state park is located in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania, at the cusp of two extraordinary geological provinces. To the north, the Allegheny Plateau holds its smooth, undulating uplands while the Ridge and Valley region to the south and east contains narrow mountain passes between numerous valleys. With excellent flyways from the mountains and a 1,700-acre reservoir, Bald Eagle State Park attracts waterfowl such as great blue herons, gulls, geese, bald eagles, and osprey. Also pot mergansers, cormorants, and buffleheads. Walk quietly through the park’s 15 miles of trails that offer scenic views and you may catch sight of the bald eagle or a great horned owl. For more information on Bald Eagle State Park, click here.
Fort Washington State Park, north of Philadelphia, is home to the Hawk Watch Observation Deck, an ADA accessible deck that provides a scenic overlook year-round of the Wissahickon Valley, a National Natural Landmark. All sixteen species of raptors that migrate on the East Coast can be seen here for the annual Hawk Watch. The Hawk Watch starts September 1st and lasts through October 31st. Every day, from 9AM to 5PM, volunteer compilers stand watch to count each of the raptors that migrate past the deck. For more information, click here.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, near Reading, also holds its own Autumn Hawk Watch at the sanctuary’s famed North Lookout through December 15th. An average of 18,000 bird of prey will soar over the North Lookout, a 1,500 foot outcropping on Kittatinny Ridge. Mark your calendar for Eagle Day on November 3rd! At 12PM and 2PM, the Carbon County Environmental Education Center is bringing a Golden and Bald Eagle for you to see up close; it’s the only day you’ll be 100% guaranteed to see these eagles up close! For more information on Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, click here.
Susquehannock State Park, located in southern Lancaster County, is an excellent location for bird watching as well as seasonal leaf peeping, with its panoramic views of the scenic landscape from overlooks such as Hawk Point Overlook. You can also see Mount Johnson Island from here, the world’s first bald eagle sanctuary. Regularly, turkey, black vultures, bald eagles, and osprey can be seen patrolling the sky. Conejohela Flats, an internationally recognized migratory shorebird resting area, provides a much-needed rest for more than 38 species of migrating birds before they continue their monumental journeys to their wintering grounds. Click here for more information on bird watching Susquehannock State Park.
Ohiopyle State Park, east of Pittsburgh, derived from a Native American word “ohiopehhla” meaning frothy water, is paradise for any water-loving bird. Its cascading waterfalls and deep gorge of the Youghiogheny River provides a unique habitat that has encouraged biodiversity as well as some of the best whitewater boating in the Eastern United States. Hiking opportunities include trails along the 135-mile Great Allegheny Passage and rock climbing is available for the more adventurous. Catch sight of osprey, mergansers, kingfishers, and occasional bald eagles. For more information, click here.
Presque Isle State Park’s location on the Atlantic Flyway makes it a favorite spot for birds to stop to feed and rest on their migration across Lake Erie. Catch sight of shorebirds, warblers, and waterfowl through December. Famous for its ecological diversity divided into six distinct zones, Presque Isle State Park is a haven for bird life. More than 339 species of birds have been recorded on Presque Isle, including 47 species of special concern and BirdWatching magazine names it one of the top birding spots in the country. Jutting out into Lake Erie, Gull Point offers a safe haven for migrating birds needing rest. The natural area is closed to all public use through November 30th, but visitors can view this area from an observation platform reached via Gull Point Hiking Trail. Click here for more information on bird watching at Presque Isle State Park.