It’s spring time in Philadelphia, so you should start looking up into the sky as often as possible. If you do, you may see a Black-throated Blue Warbler fly by on its way to New York or a Great Blue Heron on the lookout for a spot to nest over summer. Why is it possible to see so many different bird species in this region? Because Philadelphia is located along the Atlantic Flyway! This is a north-south path that birds follow during their spring and fall migrations. There are four flyways in the Americas – learn more about them here. Great Blue Heron spotted along Grays Ferry Crescent in April, 2013.
The Atlantic Flyway spans over 3,000 miles – so park systems such as Schuylkill Banks, Fairmount Park and John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum create dependable habitats for migratory birds to stop off to rest and refuel (just like we do during our own road trips!). For some migratory birds, Philadelphia is their destination; learn about five of those birds here.
Philadelphia’s migratory bird habitats are not only good for the birds; they are also great for us! Birding novices and experts alike can simply step outside and catch a glimpse of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo or Acadian Flycatcher or Brown Thrasher or Northern Shoveler on its way to its summer nesting grounds. Plus, studies have shown that watching wildlife contributes to our enjoyment of the outdoors and mental health.
Mute Swan spotted along Grays Ferry Crescent in August, 2014.
More birding resources:
BirdPhilly - http://birdphilly.org/about.html
Audubon Pennsylvania - https://pa.audubon.org/
PA Game Commission - https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Birding/Pages/default.aspx
eBird - https://ebird.org/home
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation blog post - https://www.phila.gov/2020-05-06-look-up-may-is-songbird-migration-time/