Birding

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve has been a hot spot among birders in Bucks County for many years. The reason is simple. There is an abundance of birds here.

More than 110 species can be seen over the course of a year, including 31 species of warblers during peak spring and fall migration.

Birds will concentrate where there are resources available to them for food, shelter and nest sites. With about 800 native plant species on 134 acres of undisturbed land, many birds find the Preserve an oasis amidst over-development or unsuitable habitat.

Check our Calendar of Events for Spring Bird Walk dates and details.

On The Move

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve is home to an amazing diversity of birds. During spring and fall, the number species of birds that can be observed at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve increases dramatically.

This is in part due to the geographic location of the Preserve. BHWP sits on the Atlantic flyway; mid way between the northern territory of arctic birds and the southern territory of the neo-tropical migrants.

Large tracts of undisturbed forest, like the Preserve can serve as resting places for the birds as well as seasonal refuges.
 

A Special Place

As humans change the landscape to meet their growing needs, native plant, animal and insect populations are often adversely affected.

Bird populations rely heavily on insects to feed their young and themselves. Insects also pollinate native plant species that birds use for food and shelter.

As development continues to encroach on suitable bird habitat, places like Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve which offer native foods, shelter, and clean water become even more critical.
 

Bird Observatory

Inside the Auditorium of the Visitor Center, there is an enormous bank of windows that overlook the forest canopy and Bowman's Hill beyond.  The Bird Observatory offers an unrestricted view of several feeders, where birds can be observed feeding on seeds, suet and sugar water, with the Pidcock Creek valley serving as a back-drop.

Depending on the season, you might see hummingbirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, house finches, goldfinches, grosbeaks, cardinals, juncos, sparrows, doves, thrushes or woodpeckers. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a hawk, a turkey, or a pileated woodpecker, the largest North American woodpecker.

Platt Collection

After observing birds at the feeders and in the trees, go downstairs to the lower level of the Visitor Center, where you can enjoy the highly unusual Platt Collection of birds, eggs and nests.

Donated in 1972 by local ornithologist Charles Platt, the collection is a perennial favorite of young and old. It includes nearly 100 mounted bird specimens and over 200 nests and 600 eggs.

With its impressive scope, you will find the nests and eggs of nearly all birds in the Delaware Valley region. Arranged by plant community, the exhibit serves as a reminder of the importance of native plants to birds.

Birds of Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

To learn more about which bird species you may find here at the Preserve and surrounding areas, please download our Bird Checklist for your reference and use. 

Happy birding!

Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count Event
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 10 - 11 a.m.

Join Michael O’Shea from Wild Birds Unlimited for a Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) event at the Preserve. It's FREE, fun, and easy - and it helps the birds! The GBBC is an annual four-day event (February 15-18, 2013) that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. The event will take place at the Bird Observatory in the Preserve Auditorium. Binoculars aren’t necessary, but would be helpful.

The GBBC is a joint project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Bird Studies, Canada.

Click image to enlarge
American Holly with ripened fruit

Native Plants for Birds

If you want to bring birds to your own backyard, planting native species is the way to go! Birds have evolved alongside native plants, and have adapted to use them for their berries, as cover and nesting sites, and as hotspots to forage for the insects which also rely on native species. Below you will find our top ten list of native plants that are great for birds. Many of these species are available for purchase at our spring and fall plant sales.

  1. Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
         - A shrub that reaches 10 feet in height and spread
         - Flowers are inconspicuous and bloom in the spring
         - Fruits are grey to white in color and appear late in the summer,
           persisting through winter
         - Attracts over 85 species of birds, including tree swallows,
           chickadees, and warblers
  2. Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
         - A shrub that grows up to 6 feet in height and spread
         - Showy white flowers in the spring
         - Dark purple fruits appear in early fall
         - Attracts over 21 species of birds, inlcuding chickadees, thrashers, and meadowlarks
  3. Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
         - A shrub that grows up to 12 feet in height and spread
         - Blooms in clusters of small, white or pink-tinged flowers in the spring
         - Blueberries ripen in the summer
         - Attracts over 30 species of birds, including eastern bluebirds, scarlet tanagers, northern cardinals, and
           American robins
  4. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
         - A tree that grows up to 30 feet in height and spread
         - Showy white flowers bloom during the spring
         - Bright red fruits appear in the fall and persist until winter
         - Attracts over 40 species of birds, including cedar waxwings, northern cardinals, mockingbirds, and
           woodpeckers.
  5. Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
         - A shrub that reaches 10 feet in height and spread
         - White flowers are showy and bloom from mid-spring to early summer
         - Dark blue fruits occur in the fall
         - Attracts over 35 species of birds, including flycatchers, eastern bluebirds, and flickers
  6. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
         - A shrub that grows up to 12 feet in height and spread
         - Yellow flowers bloom during the spring
         - Fruits are bright red and occur in the fall
         - Attracts over 24 species of birds, including eastern kingbirds, great-crested flycatchers, and ruffed grouse
  7. American Holly (Ilex opaca)
         - A tree that reaches up to 30 feet in height and 20 feet in spread
         - Inconspicuous white flowers bloom in the spring
         - Showy red berries ripen in the fall and persist through winter
         - Attracts over 18 species of birds, including mourning doves, northern bobwhites,    and wild turkeys
  8. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
         - A shrub that reaches 12 feet in height and 8 feet in spread
         - White flowers are showy and bloom in late spring through summer
         - Ball-like fruits are showy and persist through winter
         - Attracts over 25 species of birds, including towhees, robins, and kingbirds
  9. Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
         - A shrub that reaches up to 9 feet in height and 12 feet in spread
         - Showy white flowers bloom from spring to early summer
         - White fruits are showy and appear in late summer
         - Attracts over 98 species of birds, including tangers, catbirds and woodpeckers

10.   Allegheny Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)
            - A shrub that grows to 6 feet in height and 12 feet in spread
            - Flowers are white and showy, and bloom from spring to early summer
            - Blackberries ripen during the fall
            - Attracts over 145 species of birds, including white-throated sparrows, woodpeckers, and catbirds