Butler County, Pennsylvania is full of feathered friends. Here are some of the best birding spots and what you might find there. Information from Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's Western Pennsylvania Birding Trail Guide.
Buffalo Creek Valley and Butler-Freeport Community Trail
The Butler-Freeport Trail is located in the southern portion of the 60,000-acre Buffalo Creek Valley. The valley consist of deciduous, mixed, and early successional forests, as well as grassland/savanna and stream areas. Of special conservation interest is the unfragmented forest and riparian habitat. Much of the Butler-Freeport Trail meanders through a steep-walled valley dominated by eastern hemlock and birch. The trail side also boasts a high diversity of wildflowers in spring and late summer. Buffalo Creek Valley has been designated as Important Bird Area #22.
Key Birds and Wildlife: Breeding birds include Common Merganser, Wood Duck, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher. Spring and fall migration can be dramatic at this site with 20 species of warblers expected. Reports of Bald Eagle are becoming common.
Jennings Environmental Education Center
The 300-acre Jennings Environmental Center is home to deciduous and early successional forests, shrub/scrub, grassland/savanna, marsh, and stream areas. The site boasts a 20-acre relict prairie, which is in full bloom in late July and early August. It provides a habitat for plants that are unique to a prairie. Shelf fungi and morels also can be found here. Jennings Environmental Center is part of Important Bird Area #12.
Key Birds and Wildlife: Barred Owl, Indigo Bunting, Hooded Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Ovenbird, Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Field Sparrow. The endangered massasauga rattlesnake is a prairie inhabitant. Bog lemming, least weasel, red eft, and viceroy butterfly may be seen along a trail.
Moraine State Park
Moraine State Park contains deciduous and early successional forests, shrub/scrub, swamp, grassland/savanna, marsh, the 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, and stream areas. Moraine State Park is part of Important Bird Area #12.
Key Birds and Wildlife:
Route 528 Boat Launch (and vicinity) - Hooded Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, American Woodcock, Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Northern Flicker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Prairie Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Swamp Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole. A Cliff Swallow colony is visible at the boat launch under the PA-528 bridge. The park is a popular stop-off for migrating ducks and geese. Osprey and Bald Eagle nest here, and occasionally rails and American Bitterns may be seen.
South Shore - Bald Eagle, Osprey, Hooded Merganser, Common Loon, Snow Goose, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Virginia Rail, Sora, Ring-billed Gull, Great Horned Owl, Alder Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Tree Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Swamp Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole. This is an excellent area for fall waterfowl migration. On occasion, Northern Shrike, Snow Bunting, Purple Finch, or American Pipit may be found. Rarities such as Black-headed gull, Red-throated Loon, White-winged Scoter, and Red Phalarope have been found within the park.
State Game Lands 095
The area of State Game Lands 095 contains several large ponds, marsh, dead-tree swamp, and abandoned field areas. The surrounding acreage contains deciduous and early successional forests, marsh, shrub/scrub, hemlock stands, and stream areas. This area has been designated as Important Bird Area #11.
Key Birds and Wildlife: Wood Duck, Green Heron, Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Veery, Cedar Waxwing, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rusty Blackbird, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Meadowlark. During the 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas project, 86 species were recorded here.
Todd Nature Reserve
The 220-acre Todd Nature Reserve contains deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests, a pond, and rocky and pristine streams. The reserve is wooded, with a significant area comprised of hemlock forest. Todd Nature Reserve is part of the Buffalo Creek Valley Important Bird Area #22.
Key Birds and Wildlife: Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Barred Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, American Redstart, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting. Black bear, white-tailed deer, and coyote may be seen. The reserve’s streams support a wide variety of salamanders.
Wolf Creek Narrows
The 100-acre Wolf Creek Narrows is home to mixed forest and stream areas. This site contains Wolf Creek, a beautiful stream surrounded by a forest of hardwoods and hemlocks. It is known for its spring wildflowers, and there are also several uncommon plants that grown in this area.
Key Birds and Wildlife: Wild Turkey, Ruffed Grouse, Spotted Sandpiper, and Cerulean Warbler are seen regularly here. The 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas lists 99 species of birds at this site, including 14 species of warblers.