Birding Adventure

If you’re an avid birder (or just want to give birding a try), Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is the perfect spot for you. Scientists and amateur bird watchers have cataloged more than 400 species of birds in Delaware, which is right at the center of the Atlantic Flyway.

Start your day to the northwest of Wilmington, at the one site you absolutely can’t miss: the Audubon-designated Red Clay Valley Important Bird Area. At its heart sits the Ashland Nature Center with its 130 acres of woodlands, meadows, marsh, the scenic Red Clay Creek, and four miles of nature trails. It was at Ashland that scientists recorded the first sharp-shinned hawk nest in Delaware. The highest hill at Ashland Nature Center, known as Hawk Watch Hill, is where bird watchers observe raptor migrations each fall.

A great site for beginners is Brandywine Creek State Park, which provides a handy checklist of species that can be spotted in the park. Three miles north of Wilmington, this gem has more than 14 miles of hiking trails. Its meadowland and old-growth forest provide excellent habitat for a great variety of birds. Depending on the season, you might spot herons and egrets, eagles and falcons, wild turkeys, warblers, and even the occasional oriole. 

In this Itinerary

Around lunchtime, return to Wilmington for a stop at the DuPont Environmental Education Center. The center is located along the Christina River and on the edge of the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. Its 212 acres of freshwater tidal marsh serve as home to abundant wildlife, including many bird species. You might spot bald eagles, Virginia rails, belted kingfishers, wood ducks, and other nesting and migrating species.

Its central location also means the center is conveniently close to some great lunch stops at Wilmington’s Riverfront, where you can keep the bird watch going from inside river-view restaurants like Banks Seafood Kitchen and Raw Bar

More to Explore

Caffé Gelato

  • 90 E. Main St.

The restaurant includes a 1,500 bottle wine cellar with over 100 varietals and a vibrant 10-seat…

In the afternoon, head south to continue your adventure in White Clay Creek State Park. The 37 miles of trails at this park near Newark offer a chance to see nesting birds rarely found elsewhere. From April to November, grab your binoculars and look for American redstarts, blue-winged warblers, and veeries. This park is the only known Delaware breeding site for cerulean warblers. 

Depending on the season, you can make one more stop: at the Pea Patch Island Heronry. Pea Patch Island is best known as the home of Fort Delaware, but it’s also a summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets, and ibises. In fact, the island is one of the largest wading-bird nesting areas on the East Coast. An observation tower along the island’s Prison Camp Trail provides the perfect vantage point for bird-spotting.

On the way back, stop for dinner in Newark at Hamilton’s on Main or Caffe Gelato.

Spotlight on Wilmington