Birding Locations
Please send any corrections, updates, or new site descriptions to Frank Haas



Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer page # 27

This site is located on the lake front at the foot of east Avenue on the west side of Erie. To reach this site, drive east on Rt. 5 to the Bayfront Highway. Continue driving east on Bayfront Highway until it comes to a junction (about 1.5 miles east of State Street). This junction is East Avenue. Turn left on East Avenue and drive down the short hill and make a right immediately after crossing over a set of railroad tracks. Continue on this winding road (about 1/4 mile) until it comes to a large parking area at the water.
Description: Looking directly across the inlet you will see the lighthouse at the north pier as well as Gull Point in the distance. Looking a little more to your right and you will be able to view the open water of Lake Erie. This is an excellent place to look for gulls and waterfowl in the spring and in late fall and winter. Some interesting birds seen here in the past have been: Red-throated Loon, Eared Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron, all three scoter species, Long-tailed Duck, Franklin's, Little, Thayer's, Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, and Glaucous Gulls.



Official Name: Sproul State Forest
Local Name: Graham Road
Townships: Colebrook and Gallagher
County: Clinton
Delorme Gazetteer: page 49

Directions: Park at the municipal park just north of the bridge in Farrandsville and walk half a block back towards the bridge to reach the junction of the paved street with Graham Road. Follow Graham road southwest around the shoulder of the mountain and then northwest along the west branch of the Susquehanna. This narrow one-lane dirt road has sharp drop-offs in spots, is unplowed in winter, and is often blocked to vehicle traffic by encroaching brush in summer. All told it is best traveled on foot. Proceed as far as Kingston Road if time and energy permit (approximately 10 miles each way).

Birding: The road alternates between bluff face and floodplain with corresponding variations in birdlife despite the continuous mid-age second growth deciduous forest. Breeding birds are typical of this abundant habitat and include Wood and Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, and at least 10 warblers (Black-throated Green, Cerulean, Black-and-white, Redstart, Worm-eating, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada). The most interesting aspects of this road are the canopy level views and the Cerulean (regular) and Worm-eating (downright abundant, especially after the young have fledged) Warblers. The floodplains and clumps of taller trees produce the best birding.


Official Name: Sproul State Forest
Local Name: Grugan Hollow Road
Townships: Grugan
County: Centre
Delorme Gazetteer: page 48

Directions: Start on PA 120 in either Lock Haven or Renovo and drive towards the other. When you're directly across the west branch of the Susquehanna from Wetham make a thorough search for Grugan Hollow Road. It's pretty well hidden in the hillside undergrowth. Once you find it you're faced with two choices. You can either drive up Grugan Hollow Road for something like a quarter mile to a pull-off on the left or drive north on PA 120 for something over half a mile to a wide parking area between the highway and the river. Parking riverside and walking back to Grugan Hollow Road allows you to see a number of species that don't occur higher up. Watch carefully for traffic, especially as the day wears on. Once you reach Grugan Hollow Road hike along it ascending the bluff face for as far as time and energy permit. It's about 3 miles to the first plateau top overlook.

Birding: The specialty of this route is breeding warblers with a variety of deciduous forest types yielding a large number of species. The riparian forest along the Susquehanna has Hooded and Northern Parula, The tall northern hardwoods in the mile between PA 120 and the first switchback have Cerulean and more Northern Parula. The steep slopes beyond the first switchback are forested in mid-age hardwoods providing canopy level views of Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Black-and-white, Redstart, Worm-eating (abundant), Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat. Gnarled pines, oaks, and hemlocks along the crest add Yellow-rumped to the list. Other breeders include Hermit and Wood thrushes, Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Oriole.



Official Name: Sproul State Forest
Local Name: Keating Mountain Road
Townships: East Keating
County: Clinton
Delorme Gazetteer: page 48

Directions: Start on PA 120 directly across the bridge from Keating. Turn south to cross this bridge over Sinnemahoning Creek and then park almost immediately in one of the pull-offs between the road and the creek. Walk southeast along the road for a block and you'll pass through the tiny town of Keating and start uphill. This wide dirt could be driven all the way to Pottersdale even in a 2WD car but the birding is much better on foot. The best birding is in the first two miles as the road rises from the river valley to the top of the Allegheny plateau.

Birding: The road climbs steeply around the bluff point where Sinnemahoning Creek joins the west branch of the Susquehanna. Despite the varying orientations the forest is mostly oak with a mix of other hardwoods. Stunted pines occur in some areas near the crest. The best feature of this road is the steep drop-off to your left which results in canopy level views. Breeding birds are typical of a deciduous woodland site in central Pennsylvania: Turkey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-pewee, Least and Great Crested Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Red-eyed Vireo, at least 6 warblers (Black-throated Green, Cerulean, Black-and-white, Redstart, Worm-eating, and Ovenbird), Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole. Look for Cerulean Warblers in the floodplain savannah beside Sinnemahoning Creek. The other species are best found in areas of taller oaks, grape vines, or pines along the mountainside.


Official Name: Sproul State Forest
Local Name: Kingston Road
Townships: Gallagher
County: Clinton
Delorme Gazetteer: page 48

Directions: Start on PA 120 in Hyner and drive 1 block southwest to the west branch of the Susquehanna. Turn left and proceed along the riverfront road southeast to the one-house town of Wetham, approximately rocky 8 miles alongside the railroad tracks. This road could well be submersed in spots during floods and suggests a high clearance vehicle at the best of times. Turn northeast, away from the river, at Wetham and drive one half mile to the first road junction. Park at or near the road junction. Kingston Road (one-lane dirt) takes off sharply back to your right (south) at this point. It climbs the river bluff in a semicircle around a west-facing bowl before switch-backing east to join Graham Road for a total distance of about 6 miles (one way). Steep drop-offs, no winter plowing, and encroaching summer brush make this a foot-only road in most seasons.

Birding: The road climbs steadily upwards around a 180 degree curve, going first east, then south and finally west before reaching the Susquehanna bluff face and heading east. As a result the mid-age deciduous forest changes gradually from southern (oak etc.) to northern (beech etc.). Breeding birds are typical of this abundant habitat and include Wood and Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, and at least 7 warblers (Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Redstart, Worm-eating, Ovenbird, Kentucky, and Hooded). Worm-eating, Kentucky, Hooded, occur together in the rhododendrons neat the start of the trail. Further investigation of this remote and varied area may turn up additional species.



Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer page # 27

Presque Isle State Park at Erie is a narrow-necked, low-lying sandspit extending about seven miles northeastward into Lake Erie, anchored to the mainland about four miles west of the center of the city of Erie. It is located at the northern terminus of Route 832 (Peninsula Drive) accessible from Routes 1-90, 20, and 5.

Description: Historically Presque Isle's size has been estimated at 3,200 acres. More recent calculations maintain it to be nearer half that size.

The western half of the Peninsula toward the entrance varies in width from a few hundred yards at the neck to more than a mile in width near the center. This is one of the few places in the East where, within a half-hour walk, one can observe 600 years of plant succession, from lake-side sandy beaches, to dunes with beach grasses and cottonwoods, thickets, mixed sub-climax forest, and finally to the remaining oak-maple climax forest, all interspersed with marshes and lagoons.

The eastern half of the park has been formed by centuries of sand and gravel deposited by prevailing westerly winds and waves. East-west sand ridges mark historical shorelines and former edges of beach lagoons. Sand plains are characterized chiefly by grasses, bayberry, cottonwoods, and willows. The newest section, the eastern tip at Gull Point, is in constant change, sands continually being deposited and washed away. It is precisely this transience and fluidity which sustain the Peninsula's geological character.

When describing Presque Isle in 1930, the late O.E. Jennings, Curator of Plants at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum, wrote, "Nowhere do we know of so complete a series of plant associations within so limited an area...". The Peninsula has long been a living model for study by naturalists and geologists. Since each plant association tends to attract its own related species of birds, Presque Isle's list of 318 species of birds is impressive.

The phenomenon of bird migration is often particularly apparent on peninsulas and other similar geographical features where bird numbers are concentrated during migration seasons.

These natural formations appear not only to act as funnels, but also offer landfall for birds traveling over open water. Point Pelee and Long Point, both along the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, are excellent examples. Although smaller, Presque Isle exhibits these same effects.

Erie Bay extends, north to south, for about two miles. It is relatively shallow, connected to Lake Erie at its eastern end by a deep channel and protected along its north shore by Presque Isle.

The best vantage points on the Peninsula to look for gulls and waterfowl on Erie Bay are from the parking lots near the Park Entrance, from West Fisher Drive and East Fisher Drive, and from the North Pier at the end of Coast Guard Road. Beach 11 offers a good view of Thompson Bay and the lake. The lake itself can be reached at many locations along the lakeside road.

The Nature Center, at Point 1, is about one-half mile from the Park Entrance. Exhibits have been designed and installed by the Presque Isle Audubon Society and the Northwestern Pennsylvania Duck Hunters Association, with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

There is no admission fee to these exhibits which describe and beautifully illustrate Presque Isle's geological history and ecological character. A Park Naturalist is on duty; hours and activities are posted. Trail maps are available. At present the center is open daily from Memorial Day until Labor Day, then, only on weekends, until the first of October.

The interior of Presque Isle has been set aside as an Ecological Reservation. It consists of modified climax and sub-climax forest, marshes and lagoons, and a series of previously described old east-west sand ridges accessible by way of many established hiking trails. A paved all-purpose trail now extends along the bayside from the Park Entrance to Crystal Point.

During times of peak migrational activity any place on the park can be productive. The following additional points (indicated on the Presque Isle map) describe some traditional hotspots:

Point 2, the Old West Boat Livery ("Leo's") affords a view of the bay to the south and a sizable lagoon and cattail-sedge marsh to the north. Common Moorhens, Marsh Wrens, and Common Yellowthroats can be found here in summer, as well as an assortment of land and water birds in spring and fall.

Point 3, the Lily Pond, is located just west of the Park Office.
The area between the Lily Pond and the Niagara Boat Ramp is an excellent spot to find a variety of migrant land birds. A bird banding station has been in operation since 1960. Approximately 2,500 birds are fitted with numbered aluminum bands annually during the months of May, August, September, and October when migration is at its peak. Among the 75 to 100 species banded each year, some of the most common are White-throated Sparrow, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Magnolia and Yellow-rumped Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, Yellow and Tennessee Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Gray Catbird.

The station is operated on weekends, weather permitting. Visitors are welcome. Birds banded at the Presque Isle Station have been recovered as far away as Georgia, both Carolinas, Massachusetts, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. Some banded resident birds are recaptured year after year at the exact location of banding. An adult Warbling Vireo banded on May 12, 1973, returned in 1974, 1978, and 1981. An adult Yellow Warbler banded on the same date returned in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, and finally in 1980. The vireo had, at last encounter, reached the age of at least nine years and the warbler, seven.

The banding station has an added attraction each fall. As thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate through our region bound for wintering areas in southern United States and Mexico, many pause here to rest and feed on goldenrods, asters, and other autumn flowers. These flights, reaching their peak in September, are truly remarkable. The butterflies are captured and wing-tagged with tiny numbered paper markers as a means of tracing migratory movements-an ongoing project by the University of Toronto. Monarchs tagged at Presque Isle have been found in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia. One (the project's record speed flyer) was tagged at the banding station on a warm mid-September day and recovered one day later in Franklin, West Virginia-a distance, as the butterfly flies, of 250 miles!

Point 4, the Sidewalk Trail ("Cement Walk") extends across Presque Isle from East Fisher Drive to the lake, a distance of about a mile. Birders often enter from the bay side to investigate the parallel ponds and ridges for their respective specialties,

Tree Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in dead trees near the start of the walk. Thick underbrush on both sides of the trail is often alive with migrants in May. The low-lying growth not only provides cover for them, but also offers eye-level views for birders. Wood Ducks, Great Blue Herons, and Swamp Sparrows can be seen at the ponds, a pair of Prothonotary Warblers has nested recently within a few feet of the walk, and Great Horned Owls nest along the ridge trail to the west. Several connecting trails lead into other sections of the Ecological Reservation.

Point 5, Fry's Landing. It is a small area extending along the east side of Thompson Drive from Misery Bay to the parking lot behind Beach 11. Birches, pines, cottonwoods, brushy undergrowth, and a couple of small ponds are attractive to migrants -thrushes, vireos, sparrows, and warblers. Among the warblers, Palm, Yellow, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Bay-breasted can be quite common in May, August, and September. Pine Warblers are often found here in mid-April,

Point 6, at Thompson Circle (the "turnaround") marks the beginning of Dead Pond Trail extending along Long Ridge (the eastern shoreline in 1862) into the Ecological Reservation. The ridge is a good spot to watch for migrant raptors in spring. Connecting trails to Niagara Pond may be taken to search for Soras, Virginia Rails, and bitterns (in the large cattail marshes there) as well as a variety of other wading birds and waterfowl. The thicket lying between the marsh and Long Ridge attracts other migrants and nesting birds.

Point 7, the Pines, is just as its name implies, a rather extensive area of pine trees—mostly Scotch—planted in the 1930's. The first section is accessible along Thompson Drive near Beach 10 (Budny Beach) extending northwest to the lake. The second runs almost parallel, but is easiest to enter from Pine Tree Drive. Great Horned, Long-eared, Saw-whet, and Screech Owls have been found here (particularly in winter and early spring) as well as a wide assortment of passerines. A low grassy meadow lies between these plantings. This is the nesting habitat of the Sedge Wren, last seen there in 1981. Eastern Bluebirds nest in this area as it extends south and east into the Ecological Reservation.

Point 8. Gull Point Sanctuary (the "Point") was established as a bird sanctuary in 1927 and re-established as one in 1957. Part of the Ecological Reservation, it is an evershifting sand spit and is the best place in Western Pennsylvania to see a diversity of migrant shore and water birds. Long used by shorebirds as a feeding and resting place during migration, it is notable as such its location at the eastern tip of. the peninsula and its varied habitats make it appealing to passing migrants and nesting birds.

To protect shorebirds and habitat, the 319 acre eastern tip of Gull Point is closed from April 1 to November 30 each year. Viewing is from an observation platform at the end of Gull Point Trail beginning at Beach 10. The entire point is accessible at other times of the year.

Piping Plovers and Common Terns have nested on this beach—the only Pennsylvania locality. Efforts by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Presque isle Audubon Society are being made to encourage their return as breeding birds.

In spring and fall waterfowl, gulls, terns, herons, and egrets, as well as shorebirds, visit the beaches and ponds. Warblers, sparrows, and other land birds gather in the vegetation along the inner paths to the sanctuary.

In spring, hawks pass overhead, especially on days with southwesterly winds.

Least Bitterns are generally seen during both migration seasons and may nest in the Phragmites and cattails surrounding the older ponds. Marsh Wrens, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpipers are among the regular breeding birds. A few vagrant shorebirds usually hang around for the summer; migrants begin to trickle southward in July, but the largest flights often occur with storm fronts in August and early September. On one such rainy August morning in 1979, 20 species among several hundred shorebirds were counted here.

Gull Point's open sandy beaches and grassy sand plains, its dunes, marshes and ponds, bayberry heath, and mature cottonwoods characterize a complex ecosystem which is both dynamic and fragile. It is accessible by foot travel only.

Presque Isle is unique. Registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1969, fifty-five of its more than five-hundred wild plant species on the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory are of special concern. Mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates are also well represented.

In 1984 more than five million people visited the peninsula.

Many come during the summer for boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking; many come to enjoy its year-round natural beauty and wildlife. The steady increase in human use has brought heavy pressures upon this small park. Only our awareness and respect can assure its preservation. It is up to us to find ways to accommodate human demands without destroying those natural features which bring us to Presque Isle in the first place.

Winter birding at the Erie Public Dock (at the northern terminus of State Street in Erie) or any other bayfront or channel access can be fruitful. Scott Park, located on West Sixth Street and Sommerheim Drive (just east of Peninsula Drive), is made up of mixed woodlands, ravines, open fields, bluffs, and trails. It is a good spot to explore at any season, as are the Pennsylvania State Game Lands distributed throughout the county. Game Lands habitats are diverse and, for the most part, undeveloped. Detailed county maps are available at local book stores.


Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer page # 27

Siegel Marsh, in Greene Township, is part of Pennsylvania State Game Lands 218. Developed primarily as a propagation area for Canada Geese, it consists of 1,343 acres of woodland, open rolling fields, ponds, and marshes. It is located between Erie and Wattsburg, five miles south of 1-90 (Exit 8) along Route 8.

Description: Canada Geese are usually common year-round, although winter populations are dependent upon open water and food availability. Waterfowl of a number of species can be seen during migration periods. Snow and White-fronted Geese have been recorded; Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, and Wood Ducks nest at the ponds and impoundments.

Several kinds of raptors can be found in the area including Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Kestrel, and in winter, an occasional Rough-legged Hawk. Woods and fields offer nesting habitat for a variety of birds in summer, and attract others in spring and fall.

The several ponds and marshes are of good size. Siegel is one of the best county locations to see all of the species of swallows that migrate through in spring, and Black Terns are seen regularly each May.

If water levels are low in late summer and early fall, migrating shorebirds find refuge along pond edges and on mudflats. Seventeen species have been recorded including Red-necked Phalarope, Stilt Sandpiper, and Long-billed Dowitcher. Great Egrets are sometimes found here in spring and late summer.


Official Name: State Gameland 60
Local Name: Beccaria Gameland
Townships: Beccaria
County: Clearfield
Delorme Gazetteer: pages 60 - 61

Directions: Start on PA 729 in Janesville and drive 1 mile north to an inconspicuous dirt road leading right (north). If your reach the intersection with SR 2001 you've gone 100 yards or so too far. Turn around and try again. The road you want is easier to see from the west anyway. Proceed north for about a mile through woods and fields passing a few houses along the way. A bend to the right and the appearance (or not as the grass height may dictate) of a state gamelands parking lot sign on your left indicates that you have arrived. If you find yourself surrounded by grass and pines, you've overshot the parking lot and are in the middle of the gameland itself. A gamelands map or a sharp eye for boundary signs will help keep you on the gamelands and off private property as you walk the roads or hike cross-country through this reclaimed stripmine.

Birding: This gamelands has all the habitat types typical of reclaimed stripmines on the Allegheny Plateau: open knee-high grasslands, pine and locust plantings gradually converting grassland to forest, and taller evergreen forests over bare shale. Each of these habitats has its own collection of breeding species including a number that are less abundant in more natural habitats in this part of the state. Common breeders include: Red-tailed Hawk, Kestrel, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Solitary and Red-eyed Vireos. Common breeding warblers include Yellow, Prairie, Ovenbird, and Common-throat. Sparrows hold center stage though with no less than 7 breeding species: Chipping, Field, Vesper, Savannah, Grasshopper, Henslow's, and Song. Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch round out this site's collection of typical stripmine breeders. With all the ground-breeding species at this site it is essential to look where you're putting your feet.


Official Name: State Gamelands 108 and 158
Local Name: Three-dog Gameland
Townships: Reade
County: Cambria
Delorme Gazetteer: pages 60 - 61

Directions: Start on PA 729 in the minute town of Lloydville and drive 1 mile north to a wide but inconspicuous dirt road leading right (northeast). A small pond on your right provides much needed early warning that your road is coming up. If your reach the town of Blandburg you've gone about a half mile too far on PA 179, turn around and try again. Once you've turned northeast on the dirt road you'll have deciduous forest on the right and a mix of grassland and evergreen plantations on the left. Park where convenient (or where the mammoth ruts convince you to stop) and walk this main gamelands road and the smaller (no vehicles allowed) sideroads through the grasslands. Once you've birded this area, return to PA 729 and drive backtowards Lloydville. Alongside PA 729 you'll see a state gamelands parking area on your right. Park and follow the dirt road uphill into open grassland. You can hike this gamelands road along either of two branches both of which extend at least 2 miles southwest through more reclaimed stripmine. This area has more open grasslands that the area north of PA 729. The gameland borders seem to change frequently in this area with new mines appearing and old ones being reclaimed. The good news is that the reclaimed area available for birding keeps expanding.

Birding: These gamelands have habitat types typical of reclaimed stripmines on the Allegheny Plateau: open grasslands, and pine, spruce and locust plantings gradually converting grassland to forest. These manmade habitats have their own collection of breeding species including a number that are less abundant in more natural habitats in this part of the state. Common breeders include: Northern Harrier, Kestrel, Common Nighthawk, Horned Lark, Eastern Kingbird, and Prairie Warblers. All the usual stripmine sparrows occur: Chipping, Field, Vesper, Savannah, Grasshopper, Henslow's, and Song as do the other typical stripmine breeders: Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch. The grassland and plantations here are more varied than in most stripmines so hiking as far as possible on both sides of PA 729 will reward the birder with the most comprehensive list.


Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer page # 27

Union City Dam can be reached from Route 97 four miles east of the intersection of Routes 97 and 19 south of Waterford or two miles west of the intersection of Routes 97 and 8 in Union City. It is located on Middleton Road, a north-south dirt road (currently unmarked) which meets Route 97 just east of French Creek. The dam entrance is approximately one mile north of Route 97 on Middleton.

Description: The Union City Dam was completed in 1971 by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Its 1,430 foot length spans the full width of French Creek and serves to protect areas downstream from excessive flooding during times of heavy melt, runoff, and rainfall.

In summer the spillway channel at the northwest end of the dam supports a breeding colony of about 35 pairs of Rough-winged Swallows. The birds utilize the weep-holes in the channel's steep walls for nesting cavities. Grassy hillsides along the creek and stands of mature mixed and deciduous woods provide a variety of habitats for common breeding birds-Indigo Bunting, Field and Savannah Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Rufous-sided Towhee, Eastern Wood Pewee, and Yellow Warbler.

Upstream from the dam to the north, low-lying farmlands in the French Creek valley are dry for the better part of the year. However, at times of heavy rainfall or runoff, they become giant catch-basins for the waters drained from a 200 square mile area.

These lands are completely submerged for short periods. When high, floodwaters extend upstream for five miles or so to an area southwest of Wattsburg locally called Baldwin Flats. Ideally, flooding coincides with the peak of northern flights of waterfowl in the early spring. Most species which migrate through Erie County can be found on these floodwaters. Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, and several varieties of puddle ducks are often common where they find food plentiful along the flooded cornfields in the valley. Diving ducks, loons, and grebes also use these waters as a stopover, but are generally less abundant.

Waterfowl can best be seen from the dam itself, from the Wattsb urg -Waterford Road, from Baldwin Flats, or from the northeastern section of Middleton Road. Middleton once continued from Route 97 and connected west-east to Kimball Hill Road (see dotted line on map). With the construction of the dam both sections dead-end. They are usually not passable by car.

Baldwin Flats can be observed with a spotting scope from Route 8 and from Arbuckle. Fluctuating water levels at the dam support many species of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.