Habitat Monitoring

Help us gather data about the park!



Who’s living in Wissahickon Valley Park? We partnered with scientists from Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences to find out, developing the comprehensive Ecological Land Management (ELM) Plan in spring 2020. Now, we need help from volunteer scientists like you to track habitat changes in across the park and fill data gaps in the plan, which will inform the priority and type of future habitat restoration projects we do in future. It’s easy to become a habitat monitor – just take your smartphone along with you on a hike and document flora and fauna you see! 


  1. Fill out our online Volunteer Agreement & Release form.
  2. Download the iNaturalist and/or eBird apps to your smart phone.
  3. Take a hike! While in the park, use the apps mentioned above to identify and log flora and fauna encountered on your hike. (Note – please follow Leave No Trace principles, and don’t approach habitat boxes or handle wildlife.) While we need plant and wildlife data park-wide, there are specific areas and species which we especially need data for. See below for more information!
  4. Report your volunteer hours here.

How to use iNaturalist

How to use eBird

You can download the eBird app here. Create a profile and start working on your checklist! (Tip: when prompted for a bird database, pick the Pennsylvania birds one to save the most likely birds you’ll find in the Wissahickon for easy identification.)

What to look for!

We’ve picked four areas to watch during each season, so if you’re on a hike there, it’s a great place to start looking around. Don’t worry if you make an observation outside the monitoring zone! We still want to know what you’re seeing, no matter where you are in the Wissahickon.

January, February & March:

Location: Valley Green area

What to look for:

Using iNaturalist:

  • Trees, tree shapes and tree bark, (leaf buds on twigs are a great way to learn what species of tree you are looking at, that’s how you do ID them actually!)
  • Evergreens: pine, hemlock, spruce, holly, fern
  • Late falling nuts or fruit on shrubs
  • Lichen on rocks, trees and fallen logs
  • Early spring sprouts of anything green in March

Using eBird:

  • Waterfowl
  • Winter birds

April, May & June

Location: Andorra Meadow and Houston Meadow

What to look for:

Using iNaturalist:

  • Flowering trees and shrubs, flowers, grasses, emerging ferns
  • Early insects (bees, caterpillars, butterflies, spiders, ants)

Using eBird :

  • Breeding Birds

July & August & September

Location: Northwestern Avenue (northern section of park)

What to look for:

Using iNaturalist:

  • Animals – reptiles along the creek, fish, snakes, mammals, salamanders, etc. under rocks
  • Caterpillars, butterflies, moths and spiders
  • Mushrooms

Using eBird:

  • Inhabitants

October, November & December 

Location: Valley Green to Lincoln Drive (forest floor in lower half of the park)

What to look for:

Using iNaturalist :

  • Leaves (so easy to learn your trees if you know your leaves),
  • Nuts, cones, seeds, and berries
  • Lichens, mosses, mushrooms, explore rotting logs
  • Late flying butterflies and moths

Using eBird :

  • Migrants

Safety Tips

  • We highly recommend not going out alone. Recruit folks that you know and are comfortable volunteering with: someone from your household or “quaranteam” to join you. Send them the online volunteer agreement & release form.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Look out for other park users, insects like yellow jackets, poison ivy, tripping hazards, and hanging tree branches.
  • Perform a tick check when you return home.


If you’re not able to get out into the park and volunteer, consider donating or becoming a member to support our stewardship mission.