img_20181128_133452122Cars zip by on Interstate 95 and the control tower at Philadelphia Airport looms in the distance, so it’s hard to believe the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 300 species of birds (including a breeding pair of bald eagles) – plus a variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. But, even on a cold November day, I saw plenty of ducks, geese, woodpeckers, swans and a bald eagle during my 3 mile walk.  Tobey and Erick were taking a birding class, which left me time to explore.  The 1,000 acres of preserved land contains over 10 miles of hiking trails, boardwalks and a visitor center.

The refuge was established in 1972 as America’s First Urban Refuge, with the goal of  preserving what was left of the freshwater tidal marsh that once covered the area. The original plan was for Interstate 95 to be built through the center of the marsh, but establishment of the refuge re-routed the highway around its edge.

Admission to the refuge is free and a variety of free programs are offered throughout the year, including bird watching walks, tree identification classes, archery programs, etc..