Free guided bird walks during the Expo!
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the Expo from 7:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Bird walks will begin at each location at 7:00 a.m. sharp. You are responsible for your own transportation to the sites. No signup required; just show up with binoculars!
For the third consecutive year, the American Birding Expo will offer free, guided bird walks at local birding hotspots. With its move east to the Philadelphia metro area, the birding sites have changed to include five fabulous regional hotspots: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Wissahickon Valley Park/Andorra Meadow, John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Valley Forge National Park, and the Militia Hill Hawk Watch. Volunteer guides from Philly-area bird clubs and from among the Expo’s exhibitors will be on hand at each of the designated Expo birding sites to take small groups of interested people out bird watching.
Bird walks will be held between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. each morning of the Expo: Friday, September 29; Saturday, September 30; and Sunday, October 1, 2017. The guided walks are free and open to the public and will begin at a designated and well-marked location in the main parking lot at each of the birding sites. Look for guides with the American Birding Expo dark blue hat and waving an American flag at the birding sites!
The bird clubs with members volunteering as Expo birding guides include: The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, Valley Forge Audubon, Wyncote Audubon, Bucks County Birders, the Bird Club of Delaware County, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Lancaster County Bird Club. Special thanks to George Armistead of Rockjumper Birding Adventures for organizing the volunteer birding guides.
The Philadelphia region has a wonderful diversity of birdlife, world-class sites for watching birds, and more than a dozen active bird-watching clubs. This is unsurprising given the rich history of birding and ornithology in Philly. Here are five Philly-area birding hotspots that Expo attendees should plan to visit before, during, and after the Expo. These walks are free and open to the public and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
1. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
This refuge is easily one of the Keystone State’s best birding sites, providing a variety of habitats for birds in the urbanized setting of Philadelphia. Freshwater tidal marsh, open waters, mudflats, and woodlands attract numerous birds, including thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl in fall. More than 10 miles of trails and several observation platforms make this an accessible site to visit. Meet at large shelter in refuge’s main parking lot. More info>>
2. John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
Mill Grove is the first American home of Audubon, and it remains a great site to look for birds—mostly warblers and other migratory songbirds in fall. The grounds feature meadows, woodlands, and some water, with about five miles of trails. Meet in parking lot near pavilion and barn. More info>>
3. Valley Forge National Historical Park
This site encompasses more than 3,000 acres of land, featuring a variety of habitats: forests, wetlands, and meadows. More than 227 bird species have been recorded here. In fall, look for warblers, kinglets, vireos, and other migrating passerines. The best birding areas are on Mount Joy, along Valley Creek and the Schuylkill River, and in the meadows throughout the park. Meet at Artillery Park. More info>>
4. Militia Hill Hawk Watch
Take a walk through Fort Washington State Park. The walk will begin and end at the Militia Hill hawk watch, located inside Fort Washington State Park, which is a must-see in September and October. Tens of thousands of raptors migrate over this site, including sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, broad-winged hawks, northern harriers, and bald eagles. Visitors are encouraged to join the hawk watch, and a compiler is always present to help identify birds and answer questions. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times of day to see migrating raptors here. Meet at parking lot near hawk watch. More info>>
5. Andorra Meadow in Wissahickon Valley Park
This meadow is the perfect place to enjoy a fall morning. Start at the Wissahickon Environmental Center and take one of the easy trails to the meadow. Watch for woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, robins, catbirds, waxwings, goldfinches, and migrating warblers. The Great Beech—the second largest tree in Philadelphia and the largest European beech in Pennsylvania—is located here. Meet at the parking area at the end of Northwestern Ave. More info>>
Check out these free morning workshops! Join us on Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30 for the following workshops, presented by industry experts.
The Basics of Feeding Birds in Your Backyard
Presented on Friday by John Schaust, Chief Naturalist, Wild Birds Unlimited
Presented on Saturday by Brian Cunningham, Product and Hobby Education Manager, Wild Birds Unlimited
Curious about the hobby of bird feeding? Just getting started and need some expert advice? Then this program is for you! Join the experts from Wild Birds Unlimited as they share their knowledge on how to get the best bird action in your backyard. What foods? What feeders? Where to place them? These questions and many more will be answered with a dash of fun and a sprinkle of uncommon facts about our common backyard birds.
The Joy of Bird Feeding
Presented by Jim Carpenter, founder of Wild Birds Unlimited and author of The Joy of Bird Feeding
Learn about the science and art of feeding wild birds from the true master of the hobby. From the beginner to the experienced hobbyist, everyone will benefit from learning about the 5 steps to bird feeding mastery and the 12 elements that every backyard needs to maximize its variety of feathered visitors. Jim will also review the history of bird feeding though a look at feeding guides published over the past 100 years. Be sure to bring your questions for the master to answer!
Getting Started in Bird Watching Part 1 8:00- 9:15 A.M.
Presented by Dawn Hewitt, birder and managing editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest
Bird watching, or birding, if you prefer, is an easy-to-do activity enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. The benefits of watching birds are many: it’s relaxing, it gets you outside on a regular basis, it’s healthy for your mind and body, it can be done almost anywhere, and getting started doesn’t take much time or money. For the first session, Dawn will share the basic steps to becoming a bird watcher, including choosing and using binoculars and a field guide, where to look for birds, how to connect with a local bird club, how to dress for a birding outing, and more. Beginners and new birders are especially welcome!
Getting Started in Bird Watching Part 2 9:30- 10:45 A.M.
Presented by Kyle Carlsen, birder and social media manager for Bird Watcher’s Digest
For the second session, Kyle will take your farther down the birding path, covering topics such as how to find birds, birding by ear, attending a birding festival, expanding your knowledge about birds, and using apps for birding. Beginners and new birders are especially welcome!
Birder Brains: Why Birding Is the Best
Presented by Alvaro Jaramillo, founder of Alvaro’s Adventures and author of Bird Watcher’s Digest’s Identify Yourself column
The brain of the birder is not normal. It does some amazing things from identifying birds to creating complex emotional responses to birds. Birding may even make your brain better, and your mind healthier! Come learn about how we identify birds, how we can get better at it, and how birding can be a huge enriching experience to your life, maybe more so than you thought.
Buying New Binoculars
9:30-10:45 A.M. FRIDAY ONLY
Presented by Steve Shunk, owner and lead guide, Paradise Birding
It’s time to buy new binoculars, but which brand is right for you? What magnification would be best? How much should you spend? Or, most importantly, why buy new binoculars at all if your current pair work just fine? The right pair of binoculars can boost your confidence and enhance your birding skills, but the wrong pair can prevent you from becoming a better birder. Professional naturalist, Steve Shunk, will help you decide which binoculars are the best for your birding adventures.
Intro to International Birding
9:30-10:45 A.M. SATURDAY ONLY
Presented by Steve Shunk, owner and lead guide, Paradise Birding
Why should you travel outside of North America, when our continent offers so much excellent birding? Expense, safety, and foreign languages are some of the obstacles that prevent us from venturing beyond our borders, but the biggest obstacle is psychological; we like to stay in our comfort zones. International traveler, Steve Shunk, offers some simple advice: Travel now, and travel often. There is a big world of birding out there, and Steve’s introduction to international travel will inspire and entertain.
After Steve’s final workshop, he will be signing copies of his book Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America from 11 A.M. to Noon at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt booth at the Expo Center! This comprehensive and authoritative guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species goes far beyond identification.
Don’t miss the rest of the Expo’s featured presentations »