A Season for the Birds (and Bird Lovers)

Nature // June 28, 2018

By Ruth Pfeffer

It’s not just people who flock to the Wissahickon this time of year. Birds who reside, nest, or migrate through the natural habitat of the park’s forests and meadows are in abundance. On a recent cool, overcast day in May, 12 hearty bird enthusiasts joined me on Forbidden Drive to observe and hear some avian friends.

A big puddle along the trail turned out to be a perfect surprise place to spot the first bird. A veery (thrush) was foraging for food around the water, carefully watching the visitor traffic passing by. In the background, the group heard the “see me–hear me–find me” song of the red-eyed vireo, which called several times during the half-mile walk to the Red Covered Bridge.

Other highlights included a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds searching for nesting materials at a spiderweb just a couple of feet in front of the group–many birds use the strong, yet soft, spiderwebs for their nests. The hummingbirds nest along Forbidden Drive every year. After a sharp “chipppp” sounded, two male common yellowthroats, one of the species that nests in the park, popped up while they were feeding on insects in the vegetation. How exciting it was when wood ducks were spotted in the canopy–both male and female were on a sycamore limb. They are cavity nesters and are partial to sycamore trees and the bird nest boxes that Friends of the Wissahickon have placed along the creek.

All-told, the sharp-eyed participants on the walk saw/heard 41 species of birds! Below is the list that was documented and reported to the Philadelphia Bird Count.

It certainly was a glorious day for birding. Thank you to the hearty group members who did not let lack of sun dampen what turned out to be what one of them described as a “magical experience.” Happy birding!

Bird list

Acadian Flycatcher (heard)
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Baltimore Oriole
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-billed Cuckoo (heard)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler (heard)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue Jay
Brown-headed Cowbird
Canada Goose
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren (heard)
Chimney Swift
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee (heard)
Eastern Wood Pewee
Gray Catbird
Great-crested Flycatcher
House Wren (heard)
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Parula
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Northern Waterthrush
Ovenbird (heard)
Pine warbler
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-eyed Vireo (heard)
Red-tailed Hawk
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Scarlet Tanager (heard)
Tree Swallow
Turkey Vulture
Wood Duck
Wood Thrush (heard)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow Warbler (heard)

Ruth Pfeffer is owner of Birding with Ruth and creator of the birding program at the Morris Arboretum.

What birds can be seen in the Wissahickon? Find out the Wissahickon Bird Buzz here.