By Tony Croasdale, Environmental Educator at Parks & Rec’s Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center
May is prime songbird migration time. Each night, thousands, if not millions, of birds are migrating to our area. These birds are flying here from their winter homes in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Philadelphians are lucky to have many places to see these birds. From our largest parks to your backyard, and many spots in-between.
For some bird lovers, the most sought after of these migrants are wood warblers. These birds are tiny and usually brightly colored.
So where does a bird flying over a large city like Philadelphia decide to land? And where can you find these birds?
Your first thought might be our large watershed parks like Pennypack Park and Wissahickon Valley Park. These parks are attractive options to the birds. You can find concentrations of migrating songbirds in these parks. But you might also walk for miles without finding any.
Thankfully, birds landing in Philly have plenty of options and the ability to spread out. If birds are not close to a big park when they land for the day, they will make do in smaller spaces. Sometimes, species that like to live high in the tree canopy will settle on a short tree or even a shrub. Birds are easy to see when they concentrate in any available vegetation. This is called a “migrant trap.”
Migrant traps are all around us. Examples include:
plantings around businesses or schools.
Here are some smaller green spaces where I’ve enjoyed great May birding:
Other migrant traps you can visit:
The grounds of City Hall
The grove of birches across from the student center on Temple’s campus
University of Pennsylvania’s “bio pond” garden near 38th and Spruce.