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American Birding Expo Hits Pennsylvania, September 29 – October 1

By dgross September 21, 2017

American Bird Expo at Philadelphia

Philadelphia can claim to be the birthplace not only of the nation but also of American ornithology and the birding tradition. This is where Alexander Wilson, the first American ornithologist, lived and worked on his seminal “American Ornithology.”  Anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors watching birds and spending time indoors learning more about them and meeting others with the same interest will feel welcome at the American Birding Expo.  For an abundance of information about this event, please see its website:  There will be an exciting offering of speakers and presentations touching on many aspects of birding ranging from the backyard to the tropics.  There also will be many opportunities to meet other birders of all levels of experience and interest and visit many interesting birding equipment and art venders.  The event will be staged at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania, from September 29 to October 1, but includes events elsewhere in the Greater Philadelphia area.  Pennsylvanians like George Armistead, Scott Weidensaul, Carrie Barron of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove are featured at this exciting event.

The featured presentations offer a wide variety of subjects and authors with diverse geographical focus as well. The keynote presentation on Friday evening will be given by author and artist Julie Zickefoose who will talk about “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest” an adorable subject that Julie has rendered into lovely portrayals.

Author and artist Julie Zickefoose will be making a presentation at the Expo.

On Saturday evening, Scott Weidensaul presents “Project SNOWstorm” about the Snowy Owl project based in Pennsylvania that continues today as a study of the poorly understood, nomadic white invaders from the North.  And, on Sunday, the Assistant Director of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Carrie Barron, will present a program about “Birds of Prey” that includes live owls,

Scott Weidensaul, a nature author from Schuylkill County, handles a barred owl at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Albany Township. 2/11/03 Photo by Bill Uhrich

The event gives birders an opportunity to meet the authors of recently published bird books. On Friday evening, things start off in the tropics with a book signing by Jesse Fagan of the new “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America.”  This is a book that I personally found to be very well executed and useful in a recent trip to Honduras.  Since birding is a fast-growing part of the tourism industry in Central America, birders have the potential to advance their interests by paying more attention to the birds and people of that region.  This book makes it much easier.  Steve Shunk will be signing copies of the “Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America” on Saturday at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s booth after his workshop.  These are familiar but amazingly well-adapted birds that range from the ubiquitous Flicker and Downy to the rare and mysterious Ivory-billed and Imperial Woodpeckers.  A very attractive Pennsylvania resident, the Red-headed Woodpecker reportedly inspired birding pioneer Alexander Wilson to take up birds as a pursuit as soon as he “got off the boat” and landed in Philadelphia.  Perhaps birds seen at the Expo will inspire you and other participants into committing more time to the fascinating hobby.  Also on Saturday, J. R. Ripley will present a reading from his Bird Lover’s Mystery Series called “Die, Die, Birdie.”  Birds and birding do appear in fiction!

American Birding Expo banner.

This event also includes free bird walks between 7:00 and 10:00 each morning. There is a lot of local support for the event with several bird clubs with members of these several bird clubs volunteering as Expo birding guides: The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, Valley Forge Audubon, Wyncote Audubon, Bucks County Birders, the Bird Club of Delaware County, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Lancaster County Bird Club.

There also will be workshops on several subjects including: bird feeding basics, the joy of bird feeding, bird watching basics, birding skills, buying new binoculars, introduction to international birding. Presenters of these workshops will be given by professionals in the birding industry including John Schaust, Dawn Hewitt, Kyle Carlsen, Jim Carpenter, Steve Shunk, and Alvaro Jarmillo

In addition to the Expo Center, the sites of the birding expo include:

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Philadelphia

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Militia Hill Hawk Watch

Andorra Meadow in Wissahickon Valley Park

Birders at the American Birding Expo

All are welcome from beginners and casual birders to any level of birding interest or expertise that you may possess.