When heading out for a morning, day, or extended wildlife or birdwatching tour, be prepared with the proper gear and information.
Finding Your Way - Maps and GPS
This website utilizes the "Get Directions" feature in Google Maps, however, it is often advantageous to verify the location of your destination with a current transportation (road) map in addition to using the directions provided by Google. When visiting birding and wildlife watching sites, always carry a current trail map if available.
Global Positioning System (GPS) users can utilize the latitude and longitude data provided in the site descriptions. These data were obtained from Google Earth. The internal coordinate system of Google Earth is geographic coordinates (latitude/longitude) on the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84) datum.
Notebook and pencil
For jotting down field marks, sightings, and habitat notes.
These help you to identify the birds, wildlife, and plants that you encounter. Many good wildlife and bird guides are available depending on your level of experience. Study at home as well as using them in the field.
Consider listening to birdcalls and songs using audio field guides or an audio device, such as an iPod, with a bird song application installed. They offer useful tips on how to remember calls and songs. A few hours of studying can enrich your birding experience.
Use a Pennsylvania Bird and Mammal Checklist to keep track of your sightings.
Dress appropriately for both the weather and the conditions at your destination.
- Remember that Pennsylvania is home to ticks that carry Lyme disease. Long pants and long sleeves in light colors will help discourage ticks and enable you to spot them more easily. Inspect yourself frequently.
- Wearing earth-tone colors with a design or pattern will break up your outline. Remember to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest, and back when visiting State Gamelands or other areas open to hunting during fall, winter, and spring hunting seasons.
- The weather conditions at many of the hawk-watching locations tend to be ten or more degrees cooler and often windier than the valley conditions.
- Wear appropriate footwear. For instance, hawk-watching sites are often rough and rocky.
Water and snacks
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration during your outing, even during the winter months. Some of the locations included in this guide are far removed from public services, so always plan ahead.
Optics come in many sizes and shapes, from pocket-sized binoculars to high-powered scopes. When purchasing binoculars, consider how you will use them, where you will use them, and the amount of weight you wish to carry.
The natural areas of Pennsylvania and the species of wildlife they support provide ample opportunity for nature photography.