Opening Day for Trails: A win for birds in Tacony Creek Park

Julie Slavet
Apr 14, 2015

By Ricky Vereneck, TTF Intern

On the last Saturday of March, fifteen people joined us for our special “Opening Day for Trails” bird walk at Tacony Creek Park!  Community Watershed Leader Doryán De Angel and I welcomed a group of enthusiastic participants at the I Street and Ramona Avenue gateway. It was good that the group came prepared for the windy day.

We were graciously assisted by Wyncote Audubon Society experts Martin Selzer and Jane Henderson who helped us locate and identify the bird species we saw. We were so grateful for the binoculars that Wyncote Audubon donated to TTF for these walks. For some time, we have used cardboard binoculars which, of course, are not sufficient for observing the beautiful birds of Tacony Creek Park up close.  These state of the art binoculars really enhanced our experience!  We were able to see the birds’ wings, beaks, and wonderful, displayed colors.

16525001534_4e67f569b6_oWe also inaugurated our new Tacony Creek Park Bird Guide!  This pamphlet includes a checklist of the birds that live in or migrate through the park. Early in our walk,  we spotted a hawk soaring in the sky, and we were able to correctly identify it thanks to our binoculars and bird guide. By observing the colors, we were able to conclude that it was a red-tailed hawk!

Martin identified an Eastern Phoebe and a Fox Sparrow, two rarer birds. He also pointed out male mallard ducks with a green sheen on their heads, who were swimming in Tacony Creek a week before trout season. An amazing moment was when we hiked up from the path to a grassland meadow, and saw one of two Great Blue Herons we had seen soaring earlier, perched on a branch in a tree about 100 yards in the distance.

We also spotted a cat sitting as sentinel far off in the thicket, and some Northern Flickers fluttering about in search of a meal. After returning to the path, we walked by Fisher’s Lane Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Philadelphia, dating to 1759!


Our “Opening Day for Trails” bird walk was exciting…and windy. This walk was part of the special Rails to Trails Conservancy effort to encourage everyone to get outdoors and experience trails.

We can’t wait to see you at our next program, Nature’s Hidden Surprises, on Wednesday, May 6 from 9:30 to 11:30. Questions? Contact Doryan at

Here’s the list of birds:

Canada Goose                                               Northern Flicker
Wood Duck                                                    Eastern Phoebe
Mallard                                                      Carolina Chickadee
Great Blue Heron                                              Carolina Wren
Sharp-shinned Hawk                                      American Robin
Res-tailed Hawk                                          European Starling
Mourning Dove                                          Savannah Sparrow
Red-bellied Woodpecker                                     Fox Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker                                          Song Sparrow
Hairy Woodpecker                                        Dark-eyed Junco
White-breasted Nuthatch                   White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal                               Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird                                  Common Grackle
House Sparrow

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