Where to Watch the Birds
The Erie area has a number of great birding spots. Here are some of our favorite birding locations.
Presque Isle State Park
One of the best birding hotspots in Pennsylvania, Presque Isle offers unique bird sightings all year long. It is especially popular in the spring and fall, acting as a migrant trap for birds resting and fueling up before they cross the lake in spring or after they have made the crossing in fall. Birding is great all along the all-purpose trail, the Sidewalk Trail that runs from the bay to the Lighthouse, and Graveyard Pond Trail. The pines along the B Trail are a good spot to look for owls, and the beaches in the early morning are ideal for passing shorebirds. Waterfowl can be seen during their migrations in the bay and along the lakeside. The lagoons are another good spot for waterfowl along with herons and egrets, marsh wrens, moorhens, rails, kingfishers, Common Yellowthroats, Bald Eagles, and more.
Tom Ridge Environmental Center
The TREC parking lot at the head of Presque Isle, with its natural landscaping, plays host to a number of bird species. Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and Eastern Bluebirds have nested there. Warblers, tanagers, flycatchers, and vireos can be spotted along the edge of the ravine around the center. In early spring, the parking lot is a great place to observe migrating raptors. The best raptor migrations can be seen from late March to early May on days when the wind is coming out of the south.
This little park on West 8th St. near Presque Isle has a nice exercise trail that is perfect for spring warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and thrushes.
Asbury Woods Nature Center
Located in Millcreek Township in Erie County, PA, Asbury Woods is a 200-acre tract of wetlands, trails, forests, streams, fields and historic properties. With five distinct natural and recreational areas – Asbury Woods Nature Center, Asbury Community Park, Brown's Farm, Greenway Trail, and James Wildlife Preserve – Asbury Woods has a diversity of good birding habitats.
Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area
Perfect for waterfowl and raptor watching, especially Bald Eagles. The trails around the park office are a good place to start. Bald Eagles nest at the resevoir most years - watch the skies for soaring eagles.
Erie National Wildlife Refuge
A variety of habitats make this a prime spot for warblers, vireos, waterfowl, shorebirds, and more. Some parts may be closed off during different times of the year, so be sure to check for posted signs.
Oil Creek State Park
Plenty of good birding can be found around this park. The bike trail that runs along Oil Creek is an especially good spot. Warblers, gnatcatchers, flycatchers, vireos, sparrows, and finches can be found here. Southern species like Carolina Wrens and White-eyed Vireos can be spotted here sometimes. Ravens can be heard calling up on the hill tops and various raptors will ride the thermals in sky overhead.
Ashtabula County, OH
Just across the state line is a wonderful spot for watching migrating shorebirds, especially in the fall. The beaches along the marina and west of the marina have hosted sandpipers, plovers, godwits, dowitchers, and more over the years. Early mornings and week days are best for spotting the birds, when there are fewer beachgoers to scare the birds away. Take Route 20 west to Conneaut. Turn North on Broad Street and follow it to the lakeshore.
Hawk Mountain, PA
Located along the Appalachian Flyway in east-central Pennsylvania, scenic Hawk Mountain Sanctuary offers visitors an outstanding, year-round nature experience with its mountaintop vistas, 8 miles of hiking trails, and thrilling autumnal raptor migration. http://www.hawkmountain.org/