Wildlife Watching at Kinzua Bridge State Park
Extensive logging from 1890 to 1930 led to the Allegheny hardwood forest that now covers most of the region. The forest in and around the park consists mainly of black cherry, sugar maple, white ash, American beech, as well as other trees and shrubs. These northern hardwoods attract thousands of visitors every fall to the skywalk to view the changing of the leaves. Conifers, including the eastern hemlock (our state tree) and eastern white pine, are also found throughout the region.
Areas where swaths of mature trees were blown down during the tornado now contain small trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, providing for a greater diversity of wildlife habitat.
Adding to the park’s beauty, wildflowers can be found throughout the seasons. Look for painted trilliums, spring beauties, and trout lilies in the spring, or jack-in-the-pulpits, Indian pipes, and asters during the summer.
Local wildlife includes:
From the skywalk and other park overlooks, turkey vultures are often seen circling on the summer air currents. In winter, red-tailed hawks can be seen doing the same. Occasionally, a bald eagle is observed flying over the valley.
Wildlife Watching Tips
When watching wildlife, keep in mind the following tips to enhance the quality of your viewing experience.
- Fade into the woodwork:
- Wear dull colors that will not contrast with your surroundings.
- Walk softly and crouch behind trees or rocks to blend in and break up your outline.
Think like an animal:
- Imagine how the animal you are seeking spends its day. Check field guides to find out about preferred habitats.
- As a rule, the border between two habitats is a good place to see residents from both places.
- Dusk and dawn are usually the best times of day for viewing.
- Consider the weather. For instance, after a rain, many animals emerge to feed.
- Let animals be themselves:
- Resist the temptation to ‘save’ young animals. The mother is usually watching from a safe distance.
- Give nests a wide berth. Your visit may lead predators to the nest.
- Let animals eat their natural foods. Sharing your sandwich may harm the digestive systems of wild animals and get animals hooked on handouts.
- Leave pets at home.
- Observe from a distance.
- Film and photograph wildlife responsibly.
- If an animal shows stress, move away.
- Stay on trails to lessen impact.
- Treat others courteously.
- Report inappropriate behavior to the authorities.