Our city of Philadelphia isn’t exactly known for its wildlife — and why would it be? We’re one of our country’s largest and oldest cities and we’ve been digging, building, paving and polluting for centuries! Besides feral cats and the animals at our wonderful zoo, it sometimes feel like humans are alone in the City of Brotherly Love. Actually, we have plenty of company!
Many Philadelphians are unaware of the natural treasures in our own neighborhoods. Combine the beauty of Tacony Creek Park with its highly resilient bird population and we possess a true sanctuary for both birds and residents.
On a chilly Saturday in December, TTF partnered with the Audubon Society to present a bird walk through the park. Keith Russell, an expert urban birder from Germantown, led 25 residents through the park, pointing out different species and their interesting habits
The focus of the bird walk was to introduce people of all ages to birding: how to identify birds and take a bird count. The Audubon Society holds periodic bird censuses, one of which is the December census known as the “Christmas Bird Count”. We are improving our birding skills to take part in future annual counts.
Did you know that a House Wren can feed its young over 500 spiders in a single afternoon? We spotted 4 Wrens on the bird walk, along with 31 other species of birds. By the time the group returned to the gateway at I and Ramona Streets, we had seen a total of 32 species and 438 birds!
Bird inventory for Tacony Creek Park: West Ramona Ave. to Whitaker Ave:
Canada Goose (200), Mallard (8), Turkey Vulture (1), Cooper’s Hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (1), Ring-billed Gull (12), Rock Pigeon (30), Mourning Dove (25), Red-bellied Woodpecker (5), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1), Downy Woodpecker (4), Hairy Woodpecker (1), Northern Flicker (3), Blue Jay (6), American Crow (3), Carolina Chickadee (6), Tufted Titmouse (2), White-breasted Nuthatch (4), Brown Creeper (1), Carolina Wren (4), Golden-crowned Kinglet (1), American Robin (25), Northern Mockingbird (2), European Starling (25), Field Sparrow (1), White-throated Sparrow (20), Dark-eyed Junco (15), Northern Cardinal (6), House Finch (10), American Goldfinch (3), House Sparrow (8)
Residents from across our region — Juniata Park, Frankford, Port Richmond, Center City and Cheltenham — were eager to ask about the birds, the park, and the next walk. Now that these new birders have learned a bit about how to identify birds, they want to take the next step by participating in a bird census in the park. “I didn’t realize we have so many birds here in the winter,” said Brannon Reed, a grade school student from Port Richmond.
The typical Saturday morning stroll through Juniata Park usually consists of views of rowhomes, shopping plazas and warehouses. But neighbors are beginning to discover Tacony Creek Park as a refuge from this urban setting. “I never realized I had this treasure in my back yard” said resident Elizabeth Fuentes. “I can’t wait for the next bird walk. I plan on bringing some family and friends.”
Elizabeth and others sipped cocoa and snacked while TTF staff updated them on ways to get involved in their park. The Student Conservation Assocation (SCA) birders were especially enthusiastic participants. These high-school conservationists have planted trees, promoted events, and demonstrated interest in activities like the bird census. “This is our last day as SCA members, so we get to have some fun on the trail,” said Ashley Rivera, a local high school student. Ashley and the rest of the group were eager to learn when the next walk would take place!
On Saturday, February 15 at 10:00 am, TTF will be back on the trail to spot birds and enjoy the park. We’ll meet at the Tacony Creek Park gateway at I and Ramona Streets. All are welcome! Contact Alex Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.744.1853.