Tiadaghton Audubon Society members Gary Tyson and Rich Faber led the second Saturday morning birding walk at Hills Creek State Park at 111 Spillway Road in Charleston Township, about seven miles northeast of Wellsboro.
The walks are free and open to the public. They provide an opportunity to see the water and woodland birds that live in or migrate through the park. Coming up this Saturday, April 20 is the third bird walk.
“We expect to see warblers arrive in full force, including new species we haven’t seen yet this year,” said Sean Minnick.
“Saturday, April 13 was an even nicer day than April 6,” Minnick added. “It was warm and sunny at 8 a.m. and throughout the walk. Four of us were Tiadaghton Audubon Society members and four were from the public. One of the women was a Wellsboro schoolteacher, another was from Troy and the third woman had not been on a bird walk in several years.”
“The osprey is continuing to build its nest. We also saw a female northern cardinal sitting on her nest and a pair of black-capped chickadees making a nest in a hole in a dead tree,” said Minnick.
“In total, we saw 34 bird species during the April 13 walk, nine of them for the first time this year,” Minnick said. “The nine included the double-crested cormorant, broad-winged hawk, yellow-bellied sapsucker, northern flicker, northern rough-winged swallow, ruby-crowned kinglet, brown-headed cowbird and our first warblers of the season – the pine warbler and yellow-rumped warbler. The other 25 bird species were identified on both the April 6 and 13 walks. All 34 species were also reported in 2018.”
Those on the April 13 walk saw three migratory bird species that had stopped in the park on their way from wintering in the Southeastern United States to their summer locations. They were: the double-crested cormorant, which summers in the Great Lakes Region of the U.S.A. and Canada; and the ring-necked duck and ruby-crowned kinglet, which summer in Canada.
“We also saw 20 bird species that live at Hills Creek year-round,” Minnick said. They included the American crow, American goldfinch, American robin, bald eagle, black-capped chickadee, brown creeper, brown-headed cowbird, Canada goose, common merganser, dark-eyed junco, downy woodpecker, eastern bluebird, great blue heron, mallard, northern cardinal, northern flicker, red-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch and wood duck.
Also identified on April 13 were 11 bird species that are spring, summer and/or fall residents at Hills Creek, including the broad-winged hawk, eastern phoebe, northern rough-winged swallow, osprey, pied-billed grebe, pine warbler, red-winged blackbird, song sparrow, tree swallow, yellow-bellied sapsucker and yellow-rumped warbler.
For the Saturday, April 20 bird walk, meet at the park office at 111 Spillway Rd. in Wellsboro. The walk will begin promptly at 8 a.m. Registration is not required. Everyone is invited to participate, including first timers to experienced birders. Bring binoculars and cameras and wear weather-appropriate, subdued clothing and sturdy walking shoes. For those who do not own binoculars, the Tiadaghton Audubon Society has 20 pairs available for adults and children, ages seven and up.
The walks are slow-paced and cover a limited distance. “They can last two hours depending on how many birds we are seeing,” said Minnick. Upcoming walks will be on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4, 11, 18 and 25.
For information about Hills Creek State Park, call the park office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at (570) 724-4246.