Accessible birding area beckons nature lovers to Happy Valley, PA during fall migration

– by Lesley Kistner

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New signage highlights some of the bird species that call the wetland home.

A tranquil spot along Route 220 near the village of Julian, PA provides the perfect spot for bird watchers and nature lovers to appreciate the beauty of the Bald Eagle Valley, and observe the abundant varieties of birds that pass through or call the wetland home throughout the year.

ADA-compliant site enables all to enjoy nature

What makes the Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Birding Area even more special is that it is completely accessible to people regardless of physical ability. A Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation project, the birding area is the first phase of an ADA-compliant project that also includes the nearby Soaring Eagle Wetland.

bird viewing area sign

The birding area sits just off of Route 220 on Miles Hollow Road.

A brightly colored, landscaped sign on Miles Hollow Road directs visitors to the birding area, which features two shelters overlooking a wild wetland. In addition to accessible blinds, the grounds include a linear trail and ADA-compliant parking. The viewing area is peaceful place to connect with nature, spot new bird species, listen to the harmonious sounds of birds and frogs, or just watch the colors change across the wetland as the sun sets over the ridge.

An interpretive panel shows some of the more popular species that can be found in the wetlands. However, during spring and fall migration, any number of species might be spotted.

Migration brings more birds to the wetland

According to Cornell University’s eBird, 195 species of birds have been documented at the viewing area, with well more than half seen only during migrations. Local photographer and avid birder Mark Nale has captured numerous birds with his lens, including those shown in his photos above.

The fall migration period spans mid-September through mid-November. Any number of species might be spotted there. In 2020, the wetland was dry due to the drought, but it is brim-full right now, setting up potentially good conditions for migrating waterfowl.

Weather conditions also dictate whether migrating birds stop at the viewing area. A frost will knock down vegetation, making the area more attractive to waterfowl.

Songbirds that can be found in the birding area include assorted warblers including Wilson’s Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Blackpoll Warbler and other have been observed there. Also Philadelphia Vireos, Lincoln Sparrows and Blue-headed Vireos.

Waterfowl that can be seen include Long-tailed Ducks, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Pintails, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Canada Geese, Common Goldeneyes, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, and more.

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Lush vegetation fills the wetland in the fall.

Regardless of what time of year you visit, the birding area is a happy place in the Bald Eagle Valley that puts nature and a diverse collection of feathered friends in the spotlight -- a special site that all are able to enjoy!

Visit the nearby Soaring Eagle Wetland

A half-mile away from the Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Birding Area on Route 220 is the companion Soaring Eagle Wetland. Currently, grass trails provide access to fishing on the Bald Eagle Creek, as well as a chance observe nature. When completed, the wetland will include an accessible trail and fishing platform over the creek, ADA-compliant observation blinds, a pavilion, restroom, parking lot and educational signage – full accessibility from the parking lot to the creek!

Soaring Eagle Wetland sign 9927 ps NALE

Interested in more reasons to spend a day in the Bald Eagle Valley? Learn more.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau cannot stress enough that we believe in responsible and safe travel. We do encourage visitors planning business or leisure travel to Happy Valley to refer to the following resources for reliable information and updates regarding COVID-19. Please keep in mind that some articles on this blog were written in a different age pre-virus. Please refer to the individual business websites for current status and hours available. HVAB links to business and other appropriate pages at every opportunity.