Over 25 years ago, I was a beginning birder and began going to the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Here with the help of knowledgeable guides, I learned about birds. I saw my first Hudsonian Godwit and learned that the refuge is an occasional fall stopover for the long-distance migrant traveling from the Hudson Bay to southern South America.
Because the refuge is a green oasis in an urban landscape and possesses a variety of habitats in close proximity to each other, it hosts a diversity of birds at all times of the year. You can easily forget you’re in a busy metropolitan area. A pair of Bald Eagles nested at the refuge this year, as if to underscore the point.
The refuge originated in the 1950s, when 200 acres of wetlands were preserved. It was the last remnant in Pennsylvania of what was originally 6,000 acres of freshwater tidal marsh. Designated a national wildlife refuge in 1972, Heinz is now known as one of the nation’s finest urban preserves.
— Edie Parnum
Edie Parnum regularly leads bird walks at Heinz NWR and other nearby locations. She is ornithology chair of Valley Forge Audubon Society and a local compiler of the Christmas Bird Count.