Pennsylvania's Warblers & More: from Cerulean Warbler to Henslow's Sparrow 2017
For our tour description, itinerary, past triplists, dates, fees, and more, please VISIT OUR TOUR PAGE.
See this triplist in printable PDF format with media only on page 1.
We spent an afternoon in Clarion County watching Henslow's Sparrow (and Ruffed Grouse, Upland Sandpiper, and Pileated Woodpeckers). Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
I was fortunate to grow up in Pennsylvania, a bird-rich state that is frequently overlooked as a birding destination. When John Rowlett decided to retire and Field Guides stopped offering the "Virginia's Warblers" tour, I was excited to try a similar itinerary on my familiar home turf. May 2017 was the first running of our new tour, and I think that it went really well. We found 29 species of warblers and a wonderful suite of other species, even with a rainy day that posed some temporary meteorological challenges.
The tour kicked off in the lowlands of the Susquehanna River valley south of Harrisburg, where we sought and found Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Heading to the forested ridge-and-valley ripples north of Harrisburg, Acadian Flycatcher and Cerulean Warbler were the next hits to show up. As we cruised toward State College, we made a few riverside stops and found Warbling Vireo, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, and a soaring Broad-winged Hawk. A post-dinner nightbirding outing near State College led us to find Eastern Whip-poor-will and an uncommon Northern Saw-whet Owl.
The morning of our second full day was nearly a washout as the central portion of Pennsylvania was covered by a large, wet low pressure system spinning across the state. We managed to eventually get into the field at the Scotia Barrens and found Black-billed Cuckoo, Golden-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and more. In the afternoon, the rain abated and we drove west to Clarion County where we found plenty of Henslow's Sparrows at The Piney Tract. Other highlights included Upland Sandpiper, Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker, Grasshopper Sparrow, and more!
The next day, we ate breakfast at Bear Meadows, accompanied by a wonderful dawn chorus that included Northern Waterthrush, Canada Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker, Pine Siskin, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and more. The scope views of the Louisiana Waterthrush were simply unreal! From Bear Meadows, we stopped at Bald Eagle State Park and found Blue-winged Warbler, nesting Cliff Swallows, and late migrants in the form of Red-breasted Merganser and Common Loon. Lunch was a picnic at Hyner Run State Park with Red-breasted Nuthatches, Blackburnian Warblers, and a singing Winter Wren. After checking in to our hotel in Mansfield and enjoying dinner, we closed the evening with a long watch of a beautiful marsh called "The Muck," finding Wood Ducks, Virginia Rails, Marsh Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, Common Gallinule, and an unseasonable Canvasback.
The morning of our fourth day found us eating breakfast in the undisturbed mature forest of Colton Point State Park along the Pine Creek Gorge (also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania). A Porcupine joined us for breakfast (see the video below) and we found a wonderful set of forest birds including Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, Least Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, and much more. Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers were in a small migrant flock along an overlook of the gorge, too! Returning south to finish the tour, we stopped to enjoy an urban colony of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons in an old Harrisburg neighborhood. After dinner, we stopped at a favorite spot near Hershey and found a splendid red morph Eastern Screech-Owl before heading to bed.
Prior to heading to the Harrisburg airport to finish the tour, we had one final morning to seek out some species that eluded us earlier in the trip. A spin through Fort Indiantown Gap and Second Mountain was a great way to find Prairie Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Field Sparrow, and Yellow-throated Vireo - a great way to finish things off.
Doug and I want to thank everyone for joining us on our very first Pennsylvania Field Guides tour - it sure was a wonderful week full of excellent birds and a lovely group of birders.
We'll see you next time! Good birding,
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
Charles Flachs took this photo of the spectacular red morph Eastern Screech Owl that we found near Harrisburg on the final night of our tour.
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)
REDHEAD (Aythya americana)
HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus)
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RUFFED GROUSE (Bonasa umbellus)
John Hammerstad recorded this video of the awesome porcupine that trundled through our breakfast spot along the Pine Creek Gorge!
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus)
This olive-faced Henslow's Sparrow was one of several that we found at the Piney Tract. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda)
AMERICAN WOODCOCK (Scolopax minor)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
Broad-winged Hawks thrive in the forest-rich landscape of Pennsylvania. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
EASTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops asio)
NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL (Aegolius acadicus)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus vociferus)
CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)
This male Prothonotary Warbler sang sweetly from the banks of the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius)
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus)
NORTHERN FLICKER (YELLOW-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus auratus)
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)
Mourning Warbler was a big target bird for several in our group - the pair that we found near Colton Point SP performed wonderfully at close range! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
ALDER FLYCATCHER (Empidonax alnorum)
WILLOW FLYCATCHER (Empidonax traillii)
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus)
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)
This Upland Sandpiper gave us a close pass overhead in the grasslands of Clarion County. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)
We saw this male Cerulean Warbler while standing on the Appalchian Trail! Photo by participant Charles Flachs.
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)
TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
WINTER WREN (Troglodytes hiemalis)
MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)
CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)
A male Canvasback was an odd species to find in PA in late May! This one was paddling around The Muck in Tioga County. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
VEERY (Catharus fuscescens)
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)
BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera)
The flame-colored throat of this male Blackburnian Warbler sure made us happy at Hyner Run SP after we enjoyed a picnic lunch. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina)
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
Doug Gochfeld put together this great compilation of video clips from the tour.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)
BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens cairnsi)
PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (ALBILORA) (Setophaga dominica albilora)
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens)
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)
A male Wilson's Warbler was a migrant that we lucked into at the edge of a beaver meadow in Tioga County. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens)
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)
HENSLOW'S SPARROW (Ammodramus henslowii)
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
FIELD SPARROW (Spizella pusilla)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis carolinensis)
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
Baltimore Orioles posed nicely along the edge of the Juniata River at Millerstown. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)
EASTERN TOWHEE (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)
COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater)
A roadside stop near Mansfield let us enjoy the bizarre song of this male Bobolink. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
VIRGINIA OPOSSUM (Didelphis virginianus)
EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)
PLAIN EASTERN CHIPMUNK (Tamias striatus)
WOODCHUCK (Marmota monax)
EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)
RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
MUSKRAT (Ondatra zibethica)
This handsome male Northern Parula sang just down the trail from a Prothonotary Warbler along the Susquehanna River. Photo by participant Charles Flachs.
NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE (Erethizon dorsatum)
RED FOX (Vulpes vulpes)
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)
Totals for the tour: 143 bird taxa and 10 mammal taxa