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Wildlife Watching

Birding

More than 250 species of birds have been recorded at Nockamixon State Park. The numerous habitats of the park are havens for birds and wildlife. The park has:

  • Grasslands
  • Successional fields
  • Pine plantations
  • Second growth forests
  • Wetlands
  • 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon

The fishing pier in the Day Use Area is a great place to look for migrating waterfowl and raptors in the spring and fall. More than twenty species of waterfowl have been recorded in the park, including:

  • Ducks
  • Grebes
  • Swans
  • Geese
  • Loons

The paved bike trail in the Day Use Area passes through forests, overgrown fields, and picnic groves. Finches and sparrows are year-round residents. Spring and summer visitors to the area include:

  • Baltimore orioles
  • Blue-winged warblers
  • Prairie warblers
  • White-eyed vireos

The forest by the pool in the Day Use Area is a good place to see pileated woodpeckers, which have nested there. Phoebes and eastern wood-pewees are common summer residents of the park. Migratory warblers often visit to rest and refuel in the trees.

The lake by the marina is a great place to look for waterfowl, especially rafts of ducks during migration. During March and April, huge flocks of gulls pass through the area. Vultures roost by the marina year round. Nesting boxes in the grassy areas near the marina host eastern bluebirds and tree swallows. Please do not disturb nest boxes.

The forest around the cabin area comes alive each spring with the songs of wood thrushes, veeries, and ovenbirds. Summer visitors to Mink Trail are:

  • Prairie warblers
  • Baltimore orioles
  • Eastern towhees
  • White-eyed vireos

The varied habitats by the dam support diverse bird species. The hemlock dominated forest is a year-round home to woodpeckers and a summer breeding grounds for thrushes, scarlet tanagers, and warblers.

The spillway of the dam is a favorite spot for:

  • Killdeer
  • Sandpipers
  • Herons
  • Great egrets
  • Kingfishers
  • Osprey

The woodlot above the dam is home to:

  • Wrens
  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks
  • Blue-gray gnatcatchers

Bald eagles and osprey have been spotted around the deep waters above the dam and can be seen anywhere around the lake especially in February, March, and September.

The common birds brochure lists the birds most likely to be seen in the park and in which habitat:

Common Birds of Nockamixon State Park (PDF)

Scenic Vista

A pull off along South Park Road west of the bridge over Tohickon Creek provides a scenic view of the dam spillway. In the winter, the water freezes into a myriad of colors and shapes and creates one of the park’s most spectacular sights.

Sentinel Rock

This unusual rock formation is downstream of the dam and upstream of South Park Road on the east side of the creek. It is accessible via the mountain bike trail.

Native and Warm Season Grass Fields

When the park was created in the 1960s, most of the land had been small farms. Since then, the fields have become overgrown with non-native species like autumn olive and multiflora rose. The park has reclaimed many of these fields and planted them with native warm-season grasses like:

  • Indiangrass
  • Big and little bluestem
  • Switchgrass

These grasslands provide a critical habitat which is rare in Pennsylvania. The fields benefit grassland birds like:

  • Meadowlarks
  • Bobolinks
  • Grasshopper sparrows
  • Wild turkey
  • Rabbits
  • Small mammals

Geology Brochure

Detailed information about the geology of the area is available from the:

Trail of Geology 14 - Nockamixon State Park Guide (PDF)