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Spring Migration Bird Watching in PA
With winter finally out the door, spring means more than just warm weather. In the coming weeks, prepare a warm welcome for our flying friends as Pennsylvania’s numerous species of birds flock home for the spring migration. Boasting 17 million acres of forest, it’s only natural that so many birds enjoy calling Pennsylvania home. Plan an adventure into the dense forests of northern Pennsylvania and wild Appalachian foothills for some of the best birding opportunities found anywhere in the country. View some of the state’s most popular bird watching hotspots by clicking here.
Bald Eagle State Park features a 1,700-acre lake and over 14 miles of trails offering the chance for visitors to catch sight of waterfowl, loons, grebes, gulls, and terns. This season, keep your eye peeled for tundra swan, long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser, and red-necked grebe. As the name suggests, you also may see bald eagles year round and osprey beginning this spring. The two-mile Woapalanne Path travels along the shoreline and is a perfect location for views over the water.
Presque Isle State Park, a sandy peninsula located just a few miles from downtown Erie, is a National Natural Landmark famous for its unique wildlife and interesting landscape. With more endangered, threatened, and rare species than any other area in Pennsylvania, Presque Isle is the perfect place to go spring birdwatching. The Presque Isle Audubon hosts a spring festival, the Festival of the Birds, that takes place May 10, 11, and 12. The festival’s opening reception features live music and good food on Friday while Saturday and Sunday are packed with activities like workshops and hikes. Do lagoon birding from a pontoon boat, take a night field trip, or trek to Gull Point, a known sanctuary for migrating shorebirds.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary wasn’t always a protected area for birds of prey, although it would become the world’s first. Hunters used to use the alpine ridge to shoot hawks by the thousands. Today, it’s one of the country’s most popular birding destinations. The best time to see migrants at Hawk Mountain during spring is in late April and early May. On peak days, you can see up to 300 eagles, hawks, and falcons!
The Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail is an extensive trail encompassing more than 200 of the best birdwatching locations in central Pennsylvania and while its focus is on the mighty Susquehanna River, it ultimately explores a total of 39 of Pennsylvania’s counties. With the ridges of the Appalachians and the course of the Susquehanna itself, migratory birds by the thousands can be seen following these seasonal routes. Flights of tundra swans are a major spectacle in early spring as they follow the Susquehanna River from wintering grounds on the Chesapeake Bay.