Wildlife Watching in Pennsylvania

Eyes in the sky–and the brush, trees, and water

Solitude awaits in one of Pennsylvania’s fine forests. But really, are you ever truly alone? Not exactly. Birds, deer, elk, fox, turtles, salamanders, even the fish in the creeks, are out there doing their thing and living their wild lives. Be still. Be quiet. Watch and wait. With a little luck, and if you place yourself in the right place at the right time, you’ll spot elk or the majestic bald eagle, two great conservation pieces for your return.

An elk herd again roams northern Pennsylvania after a century of re-introduction and careful management, and the bald eagle breeding population now numbers about 260 pairs. Their nests are common along the main stem and north branch of the Susquehanna River. The bird-watching thrills continue on Pennsylvania’s ridgetops, perfect for watching hawks ride the winds during their fall migration, and in the pitch-black woods at night, listening for owls. At daybreak, look and listen for some of Pennsylvania’s 375 species of songbirds.

White-tailed deer and black bears abound in the thick forests and are fascinating to watch. Black bears shuffle, flat-footed, but can move when they must. They can sprint at 30 mph, easily climb, and swim well. Most will run away from people – but be wary of a mama with cubs. In the spring, watch carefully for the white-spotted coats of fawns. The protective camouflage of newly born deer look just like the sun hitting the ground after it passes through the treetops. Nature never ceases to amaze.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

The new Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park is perfect for observing wildlife in all seasons: bears, eagles, otters, and a small elk population.

From the 16-room green-certified Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, watch bald eagles nesting across the lake.

The observation deck at Fort Washington State Park is popular for watching the fall migration of 16 raptor species like hawks and eagles.

Deer, wild turkeys, grouse, raccoons, porcupines, black bears, and bobcats roam the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest.

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is known for having tens of thousands of snow geese and hundreds of tundra swans in February and March. You can also view bald eagles, harriers, short-eared owls, and a plethora of migrating ducks.

In the spring, watch warblers at the Tall Timbers Natural Area in Bald Eagle State Forest.

Spot unique birds, such as the piping plovers, purple martins, and snowy owls, as they stop to feed and rest on their migration across Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park, one of the country’s top birding spots due its spot on the Atlantic Flyway.

Nesting bald eagles, songbirds, herons, and otters are the stars at Little Pine State Park, along with migrating loons, snow goose, and raptors during the fall migration.

The fish are so plentiful the “ducks walk” on their backs to snatch food from visitors at Linesville spillway at Pymatuning State Park, also known for diverse fish and waterfowl species including sand hill cranes.

Butterflies flutter at the blooming prairie at Jennings Environmental Education Center, home to 20 acres of prairie plants and the endangered massasauga rattlesnake.

Clear springs and small streams from the surrounding bogs feed the 250-acre lake at Black Moshannon State Park, making this a waterfowl haven.

 

Find places to watch wildlife in Pennsylvania.

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