Osprey in flight - Ron Holmes.

See Heinz Refuge -  Recent Bird Sightings

Binoculars are available to borrow at the visitor center front desk. This is free of charge. Rentals must be returned to the visitor center by 3:30pm

The refuge protects a variety of habitats for birds in the highly urbanized landscape of greater Philadelphia. It has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. While most of the 300 plus avian species identified at the refuge utilize it as a migratory stopover, more than 80 species have been recorded nesting on the refuge over the years. Several species are also state listed as either threatened or endangered species or species of state or national management concern.

The periodic drawing down of the impoundment and the presence of tidal mud flats provide some of the best stopover habitat for migrating shorebirds in Pennsylvania. In addition, many types of waterfowl, wading birds, waterbirds, and landbirds utilize the impoundment. The area serves as a wintering ground for over 20 species of waterfowl with 1,100 to 1,400 individuals observed per day between September and March.

State endangered species such as the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) are known to breed at the refuge. Other Pennsylvania endangered species that have been observed at the site during migration, but are considered occasional or rare in abundance, include: yellow-crowned night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea), common tern (Sterna hirundo), black tern (Chlidonias niger), king rail (Rallus elegans), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) and loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). The king rail historically nested at the site (prior to 2000). The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) listed as extirpated in Pennsylvania, is an occasional “accidental” occurrence during migration.

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), a former federally listed endangered species that has recovered and been delisted, have historically utilized the refuge for hunting and roosting. The first known bald eagle nest on the refuge was built in 2009 with the first two refuge eaglets successfully hatched in 2010. The pair has returned to breed on the refuge every year since.