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Wildlife Watching at Tobyhanna State Park

Tobyhanna State Park is in the Pocono Plateau, a rugged highland with:

  • Rocky soil
  • Nutrient-poor bogs
  • Dark evergreen forests
  • Diversity of animals and plants

About 20,000 years ago, a giant sheet of ice at least one mile thick covered the area. Evidence of the glacier is the very rocky soil that is called glacial till and the abundance of bogs.

Much of the park is characterized by sphagnum moss bogs, evergreen trees, and thin, moist, rocky soil. During the spring, spotted and Jefferson salamanders and wood frogs flock to the bogs to breed. Common birds in this habitat are:

  • Blackburnian warbler
  • Red-breasted nuthatch
  • Northern waterthrush

Interesting plants like the carnivorous pitcher plant, cotton grass, and many sedges inhabit the bogs. The carnivorous plant yellow bladderwort lives in some of the bogs and in Tobyhanna Lake. In the underwater portion of the plant, small sacks trap tiny aquatic animals.

Due to the logging of the forests, large portions have regrown with a mix of deciduous trees like American beech, many species of oak, and red maple trees. Common birds in this forest are:

  • American redstart
  • Red-eyed vireo
  • Louisiana waterthrush

During early May, before any trees have leaves, serviceberry trees flower.

During mid-June, the plentiful mountain laurel blooms, followed in late-June to early-July by rhododendron.

During mid-July, highbush blueberries bear fruit, providing a feast for bears and birds.

A Word on Black Bears

Black bear are common in the park. This omnivore eats plants, grasses, berries, and occasionally meat. Unfortunately, bear find human food to be nearly irresistible. Please observe wildlife from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.

Keep your food in the trunk of a car or in a camper.

Black bear normally avoid people, but bear dependent on eating human food can become slightly aggressive when people get between them and food. If you come in contact with a black bear, try chasing it away by making loud noises like:

  • Yelling
  • Honking a car horn
  • Banging a pot

Notify a park employee if you have difficulties with a bear. Never approach a bear and be especially wary of mother bears and cubs.

Do Not Feed Wildlife

Feeding wildlife is prohibited. Feeding raccoons, squirrels, or chipmunks may expose you to the threat of rabies. Feeding Canada geese at the swimming areas results in large quantities of fecal droppings, which is offensive to park visitors.

Bender/Black Bear Swamps Natural Area

The Black Bear and Bender Swamps Natural Area is made up of acidic shrub swamps totaling 1,600 acres. Openings through the trees contain sphagnum moss and rare plants and animals. Black Bear and Bender Swamps will be maintained in a natural condition by allowing physical and biological processes to operate, usually without direct human intervention.