Could Bird Watching Be Your New Outdoor Hobby?

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Pine Siskins are seen at Mingo Creek County Park
Pine Siskins are seen at Mingo Creek County Park
Photo credit: DickDaniels via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Bird watching grew in popularity during the pandemic. It’s popular locally as birders can see a variety of birds in natural settings across Washington County, PA.

Robins, sparrows, hummingbirds, cardinals, orioles, woodpeckers, turkey, geese, ducks and bald eagles, to name a few, are seen locally.

  • Nearly 150 species of birds have been recorded at Mingo Creek County Park. The Washington County Department of Parks & Recreation runs programs about birds for children.
  • Canonsburg Lake is popular. 178 species of birds have been reported, including the spotted sandpiper, a bird rarely seen in the area. A confirmed sighting was made in October, 2021 by Fred Kachmarik, according to eBird’s Pennsylvania Rare Bird Alert.
  • Birds are attracted to a stretch of Cross Creek County Park that has wildflowers and clover. Nearly 200 species of birds have been seen.
  • Washington Park is home to 73 species of birds. Look around “the woods down to Clare Drive, and the woods and pond behind the Middle School,” WashPA Outdoors wrote. Rarely seen birds have been sighted.
  • More than 150 species have been observed at the Greencove Wetlands. The Lower Buffalo Creek Watershed is considered an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.
  • Enlow Fork Natural Area is an Important Bird Area. Ninety species of birds have been observed by dozens of people.
  • About 100 different species about birds have been cataloged along the Montour Trail.
  • The most common birds observed at Peters Lake Park are the Canada goose and mallards, followed by the common nighthawk, bufflehead and northern cardinal. 165 species of birds have been reported.
  • 150 species of birds have been seen at Hillman State Park, among them the black-capped chickadee, northern rough-winged swallow and the wood thrush.

Birding can be done with social distancing. It’s not surprising that its popularity grew during the pandemic.

1 in 5 Americans has an affinity for our feathered friends, making birding one of the most popular recreational activities in the nation.

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People can start by watching birds in their backyards. Sales of bird feeders and feed increased during 2020 and 2021.

There are more birds there than you realize … cardinals, blue jays, Carolina chickadees, titmice, Carolina wren, white-breasted nuthatches, starlings, robins, house sparrows, mourning doves, American goldfinches (which will be brownish this time of year). If you live in town, add rock doves (that is, pigeons). And woodpeckers are pretty common: Downy and red-bellied are easily seen.

Sayre, a local birder

Watch the skies. Birds migrate this time of year, especially birds of prey like hawks. Many of them don’t sing so much in the fall, making it difficult to know when they’re overhead. Some will still be migrating into November.

Adding the eBird app to a smartphone makes it easier on beginners. Their local hotspots can help people get to the right locations. People can check off birds they’ve seen. eBird saw tremendous growth in bird sightings submitted by everyday people during the past year and a half.

Sayre recommended that people buy a good pair of 7-power or 8-power binoculars – ones that magnify by 7 or 8 times. “Nikon Monarch 7 is a really good and lightweight binocular, though it is about $500,” Sayre wrote. Buying a copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds can also help people start watching birds.

Birding gets people outside. It’s more popular than ever. And in this area alone, hundreds of species of birds can be seen in their natural habitats.

Places for bird watching in Washington County

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