The city of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties have a wonderful diversity of birds and wildlife. Given that this is America’s Garden Capital, here are the best bird watching places near Philadelphia that any bird lover must include in their bucket list.
Every spring, over 30 warbler species pass through Pennsylvania while migrating from Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. A variety of birds, including shorebirds, flycatchers, finches, and woodpeckers, visit the Tri-state area suburbs during this season. They stay here, breed here, and move on to the north.
Given the city’s location on two major rivers and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, we receive both migratory and some coastal species. If you go birding, you’re likely to find a new species.
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
The John James Audubon Center is open every day from dawn to dusk every day. Here, you can watch birds in their natural habitat, eating harmful insects, learning field marks, and playing at their feeders.
For birders, this site has special significance. It was here than famed naturalist and ornithologist John James Audubon lived when he came to America. He watched birds on this farm and developed his technique of drawing birds. The original farmhouse from 1762 still stands.
Bird Species: Bald Eagle, Canadian Goose, American Goldfinch, Chimney Swift, Tufted Titmouse, Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Wren, Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Merganser, Orchard Oriole, Purple Finch, American Kestrel, Indigo Bunting, Field Sparrow, Killdeer, Eastern Towhee, and many others. Located at 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon, PA 19403.
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
This is a hotspot for birdwatchers, as the area offers key resources for birds, including clean water, native foods, nesting sites, and shelter. Insects loved by birds also pollinate native plants here. So, what else do birds want? Featuring a spacious Bird Observatory at the Visitor Center, you can also take guided bird walks through the 4.5 miles long trails.
Bird Species: 31 warbler species, 36 regular bird species, and 46 nester and summer resident species, including robins, Cedar Waxwings, Northern Cardinals, Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers, Bluebirds, and many others. Located at 1635 River Rd, New Hope, PA 18938.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Located in the Atlantic Flyway under one mile from the Philadelphia airport, the plentiful vegetation and diverse habitat of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge offer a perfect resting place for migratory birds. Bird identification walks are conducted frequently under the guidance of refuge staff and volunteers. Binoculars are available to borrow for free at the Visitor Center.
Bird Species: Bald Eagle, Tree Swallow, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Wilson’s Snipe, Laughing Gull, Rusty Blackbird, and many others. Located at 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19153.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
More than 225 bird species can be observed in Valley Forge park, particularly from Mount Joy, adjacent to the Schuylkill River, along the Valley Creek, and in the park meadows. Bird walks are around 2 hours long and cover 1.5 miles of walking.
Bird Species: Mute Swan, Snow Goose, American Goldfinch, Canadian Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Tundra Swan, Wild Turkey, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Great Horned Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, American Coot, and many others. Located at 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406.
Tulpehaking Nature Center at the Abbott Marshlands
When you enter the Abbott Marshlands, you come across a variety of wildlife and botanical delights, including a tidal march and a beautiful lake known to be a famous stop-over for migratory birds, which is a great spot for fishing too. You may also bring a kayak to paddle through the waters. Take a leisurely stroll on the paths and take your binoculars to notice the birds in their activity.
Bird Species: Harrier Hawks, American Goldfinch, Rusty Blackbirds, grebe, wood ducks, woodpeckers, and many more. Located at 157 Westcott Ave, Trenton, NJ 08610.
Wissahickon Valley Park
One of the biggest urban parks in the US, this one is a significant birding area as well. An excellent space for novice bird watchers, the park association offers classes to identify birds. Once you learn, go and test your skills in the park. Whether walking along Forbidden Drive or along one of the more rugged trails, you’ll see a tremendous number of species.
Bird Species: Pileated Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, Great Blue Heron, Indigo Bunting, Wood duck, Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrushes, Rough-winged Swallows, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, cardinals, Mourning Doves, and many others. Located at Valley Green Road, Philadelphia, PA.
Tyler State Park
Located 6 miles northeast of Tyler, this is a 985 acrepark surrounding a spring lake. Featuring 11 miles of multiple-use biking/hiking trails, two interpretative trails, and a 2-mile trail surrounding the lake, it takes you to a variety of habitats.
Bird Species: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Gadwall, Hooded Merganser, Eared Grebe, Chimney Swift, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wood Stork, American Goldfinch, Tricolored Heron, Mississippi Kite, Willow Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Tennessee Warbler, Dickcissel, and many others. Located at 101 Swamp Road, Newtown, PA 18940.
Bartram’s Garden is a national historic landmark spread across 45 acres of land along the Schuylkill River. This was the first botanical garden in America. Some of its major highlights include Bartram house, historic garden, ginkgo tree, Bartram barn, and coach house. Most of the common birds in Philadelphia can be observed here.
Bird Species: Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Cooper’s Hawk, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Fish Crow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Osprey, Mute Swan, Rock Pigeon, Brown Creeper, Hooded Merganser, Pine Siskin, Gray Catbird, and many more. Located at 5400 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19143.
Palmyra Cove Nature Park
The Palmyra Cove Nature Park is spread 250 acres and is situated adjacent to the Delaware River. Managed by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, it is a preserved area open for recreational opportunities, environmental education, and natural resources preservation. This is one of the best places for bird watching near Philadelphia, as there is a bird blind setup from where you can view and click photographs of birds in their natural habitat.
Bird Species: Canada Geese, Mallard, American Goldfinch, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Mourning Dove, Ring-billed Gull, Razorbill, Pacific Loon, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-throated Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, Virginia Rail, and many others. Located at 1335 NJ-73, Palmyra, NJ 08065.
Pennypack Environmental Center
This is a municipal park in Northeast Philadelphia. Spread across 1600 acres, it features meadows, wetlands, and woodlands. There are playgrounds, bridle paths, bike and hiking trails, and a bird blind set up to view and click bird photos from a hideout.
Bird Species: Over 150 species of migrating and nesting birds, including Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, warblers, Great Blue Heron, American Goldfinch, Pileated Woodpecker, and different kinds of geese, ducks, hawks, seabirds, owls, and even Bald Eagles. Located at 8600 Verree Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19115.
Ridley Creek State Park/Tyler Arboretum
While there are opportunities to spot a new bird in all of the state parks near Philadelphia, one stands out among the rest: Ridley Creek State Park. This park has a number of areas from where you can see birds, such as the Park Office Area, Sycamore Mills Area, and Hidden Valley Farm & Stables. The adjacent Tyler Arboretum is another place where you can discover active birds. Together, this area has an abundance of habitat for the birds, featuring meadows, streams, ponds, fields, trails, and hills.
Bird Species: Carolina Chickadee, Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Purple Finch, Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbird, Indigo Bunting, Louisiana Waterthrush, White-crowned Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles, and many more. Both parks are located adjacent to each other. Ridley Creek State Park: 1023 Sycamore Mills Rd, Media, PA 19063. Tyler Arboretum: 515 Painter Rd, Media, PA 19063.
Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area
This collectively designated area has federal protection and includes six state parks, all equipped with extensive woodland, bird habitats, and trails. The entire heritage area provides excellent opportunities for bird watching. The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the Blue Mountain Wildlife Refuge, the Black Rock Wildlife Sanctuary, along with the John James Audubon Center and Valley Forge (both mentioned above) are some of the key areas for watching birds in their natural habitat.
Bird Species: Barn Swallow,Gadwall,Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Brown-headed Cowbird, Mississippi Kite, Willow Flycatcher, Lincoln’s Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Cooper’s Hawk, Philadelphia Vireo, Chimney Swift, Wood Stork, and many others. Located at 140 College Drive, Pottstown, PA 19464.
Gwynedd Preserve is an area featuring meadows, wetlands, and woodlands in Montgomery County, PA spread across 279-acres of land. Open to the public from dawn to dusk, it remains closed on Tuesdays. Situated among the suburbs of North Wales and Blue Bell, this preserve has walking trails through which you come across wildflowers, grasses, and a wide range of native and migratory birds.
Bird Species: Sedge Wren, Peregrine, Chough, Osprey, American Woodcock, Cedar Waxwing, Barn Swallow, Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Dotterel, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, Blue Jay, buzzard, raven, and many others. Located at 547 South Swedesford Rd, North Wales, PA 19454.
Morris Arboretum has a wide range of natural areas along the Wissahickon Creek favorable for birds, including woodlands, meadows, and wetlands. These natural areas prove to be great habitat for birds year-round looking for a place to rest and stay. You will find resident birds, migrating warblers, and raptors in the area. Out on a Limb is a great place to watch birds at the treetop level.
Bird Species: American Robin, Belted Kingfisher, Red-winged Blackbird, Rock Pigeon, Cedar Waxwing, Palm Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler, White-winged Crossbill, Baltimore Oriole, Carolina Wren, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Brown-headed Cowbird, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Herring Gull, and many more. Located at 100 E Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118.
So, these are the top 14 places for bird watching in and near Philadelphia. If you are a bird lover and wish to watch different species of birds in their natural habitat, visit any of these places to have a memorable experience. Just don’t forget to carry your binoculars to get up close to the birdies.
If you have a favorite place for birding in Philadelphia, let us know in the comments below.