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Greater Philadelphia: For the birds, of summer

A Yellow Warbler in the shade.
A Yellow Warbler in the shade.
Kathy Martin ( Heinz Refuge

Nature lovers, and those who appreciate the sound and sight of birds in summer, will find feathered friends at these three natural settings. You need not be an expert on birds to enjoy, with all of your senses, these three wilder places that encourage both birds and humans to their sites.

Field and meadow feathered friends

Both the Meadow Gardens of Longwood Gardens and Stroud Preserve, in Chester County, take a vast field approach to welcoming their feathered friends of great diversity. Woodlands, meadows, fields and streams help to draw visitors and residents with the addition of an abundance of wildflowers, bird houses and nesting sites. Stroud Preserve additionally has an agricultural flavor with rolling cornfields and hay. Surrounded by private farms and preserves, the 571 acres of Stroud Preserve provides their feathered residents vast acreage from any type of development and a branch of the Brandywine Creek to balance the woodlands and fields. Longwood Gardens has a more organized approach with 180 Bluebird boxes placed throughout their thousand-plus acres. Pavilions have been specifically placed to encourage people to the birds and wildlife in the Meadow Garden which opened earlier this year. Mature forests of sugar maple and beech, lake and wetlands, as well as, rolling fields of meadow grasses total 86 acres of wildlife refuge for this newest Longwood Gardens exhibit. Such vast land settings and well preserved habitats are successful for both the birds and the humans who appreciate the beautifully wild, natural settings. Several bird species are regaining their populations from recent decline due to habitat loss, such as the Bobolink and Bluebird. Stroud Preserve and Longwood Gardens, respectively, are taking an active part in maintaining and preserving the nesting and habitat settings that these two species, and others, may thrive. Both locations can be walked with moderate ease, provided you have worn appropriate shoes and dressed for the weather. Since shade is only within the woodlands areas, don’t forget to bring some cool water and sunblock.

Water and marsh feathered friends

While you will see vast variety of birds across the expansive fields of the Meadow Gardens of Longwood Gardens and rolling hills Stroud Preserve, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, features fresh water creeks, ponds, wetlands and tidal marsh settings, in addition to, the woodland trails. Established to protect the last 205 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge will soon encompass nearly 1200 acres as it preserves the natural habitat of so many types of wildlife. To date more than 300 bird species have been recorded with 80-some species nesting at the refuge including Great blue herons, egrets, and a wide variety of ducks. As with Longwood Gardens, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge has a well-organized layout of observatory areas to place visitors in the perfect viewing location. The observatory bridge allow for exceptional views of heron, ducks, geese and all other water birds that delight in the 145-acre shallow managed pond, referred to as an impoundment. Other decks along the woodland trails lets visitors get closer to the wildlife that fish and live among the water lilies and marsh grass wetlands. Easy walking trails and paths are plentiful to take in the water fowl and ever changing waterscape. Plan ample time to walk, watch and enjoy.

At the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge you feel so far from urban and industrial space, while the airport area is viewable from the observation bridge. While at Longwood Gardens, the meadow space is a refreshingly wild to the immaculate formal gardens we consider of Longwood, and Stroud Preserve is delightfully walkable while capsulated in a view of how it all once was years ago. As the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge works to return its freshwater tidal marsh to the status of centuries ago, Longwood and Stroud are creating new natural settings. These three are surely for the birds, this summer, imagine what a hike or stroll at one or all three locations will do for you.

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