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John Heinz Refuge: Valentine's delight for birds of a feather

A male cardinal perches along the impoundment area.
A male cardinal perches along the impoundment area.
Kathy Martin (

Couples who enjoy birding, or simply find common delight in nature’s inspiration, might consider John Heinz National Refuge for a special time together this Valentine’s weekend. With Valentine’s Day on a Friday, couples have the opportunity to plan multiple days to enjoy each other’s company.

Snow birds and fresh air

Regardless of the weather or frozen aspect of John Heinz’ 145-acre impoundment, a managed pond aligned in balance to the tidal marsh and Darby Creek , there are many birds and wildlife that consider the refuge a year round haven, even in the snow. Brochures are available that define which of the 300 bird species recorded in the area are abundant, common or occasional during the winter. Their songs may provide a refreshing background for your Valentine weekend wandering.

Couples may equally respect the serene setting and space for a relaxing stroll or more energized jog or run together. There are ten miles of trails that can accommodate a variety of recreation choices including woodland trails for those prepared for nature at its simplest and wide paved multi-use trails for running and jogging. The trails and two observatory bridges offer couples fresh air and great variety of birds to observe along the marshes and woodlands. During this special weekend, common delight in the visual simplicity and subtle sounds of the winter birds may inspire your own personal prose. Perhaps even rival that of Victor Hugo who is quoted: “How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.”

The trails of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge are open from sunrise to sunset and The Cusano Environmental Education Center, from 8:30am until 4 pm. Couples desiring to know more of the birds of winter at John Heinz may join winter nature programs that are offered throughout the season.