Delaware’s 5 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: October 7, 2022
© iStock.com/Trevor_Jones_Photo
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Are you a bird watching enthusiast planning a trip to Delaware this summer? Or are you a beginner bird watcher living in Delaware but unsure where you can find some of Delaware’s best bird watching spots? Then, this guide is for you. It’s no secret that Delaware has an impressive variety of ecosystems. As such, it is home to various species of birds, many of whom stop in the parks and refuges in the state during their annual migration or nest permanently in the area. This article contains useful information on some of the hottest bird-watching spots in Delaware. You can visit them to get an up-close look at the stunning bird species in the state.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re looking for an unforgettable bird-watching experience, this 10,000-acre refuge beside Delaware Bay is undoubtedly your best bet. This is particularly true for birding enthusiasts interested in catching a view of shorebirds, gulls, terns, wading birds, and a great variety of marsh birds. Located at Turkle Pond Road, this national wildlife refuge is free and accessible to all. And it’s not just birds that are available at this location. You can also find other types of wildlife. There are so many opportunities for other activities like fishing, hiking, canoeing, and environmental education lectures. 

Prime Hook is open from sunrise to half an hour before sunset. For avid birdwatchers, there are more than 308 birding species you can find in the area. As a first-time visitor, we recommend you visit the refuge visitor center upon arrival to request a map and directions on exploring the area. Prime Hook doesn’t have a designated auto tour route, so seeing the best parts of it requires taking a series of unconnected roads.

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White-eyed vireo on a branch with food in its beak
Adult white-eyed vireos have white irises.

©Christopher Unsworth/Shutterstock.com

Common Bird Species at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Little Creek Wildlife Area

Along the Bayside Drive Road in the Delaware bay area lies one of Delaware’s best bird watching spots you should check out this summer. Little Creek Wildlife Area is a bird-watching spot with so much to offer visitors. Besides bird watching, you can also go hunting and fishing in this area. Little Creek Wildlife area is open seven days a week from dusk until dawn all year round.

 If you are visiting during the summer, you should carry mosquito repellents along. Little Creek is a lovely forested area with several trails and walking paths, many of which are nameless except the David S. Small Wildlife Trail. This trail is really short and takes you to a secluded area that gives you panoramic views of Delaware.

Short-eared Owl
Short Eared Owls are one of the few owls that hunt during the day.

©iStock.com/Harry Collins

Common Birds at the Little Creek Wildlife Area 

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

This list would be incomplete without the mention of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Many view this wildlife refuge as one of the most famous locations for birding in the eastern part of the United States. The American Bird Conservancy named this location as one of the nation’s top 100 most important birding areas. Bombay Hook sits on an impressive sixteen thousand acres of marshland habitats. It has about 320 distinctive varieties of birds to watch out for. Most of the birds here are attracted by the freshwater ponds, woodlands, and grassy fields that Bombay Hook offers.

Seasonally, it is home to flocks of geese, wading birds, ducks, and shorebirds. If you’re a bird enthusiast, you can probably spend the whole day at Bombay Hook without exhausting the list of birds to see. However, you should note that natural factors such as tide levels and light direction often affect viewing experiences at different hours. Bombay Hook has several wonderful trails from where you can explore the refuge. 

Snow geese taking off at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Around 200,000 Snow Geese come to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge during the winter.

©iStock.com/bilbowden

Common Birds Found at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

  • King Rail
  • Saltmarsh Sparrow
  • Tricoloured Heron
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Bald Eagle
  • Snow geese
  • Mute Swan
  • Tundra Swan
  • Clapper Rail
  • Marsh Wren
  • Black Necked Stilt
  • American Bittern
  • Sora
  • American Avocet
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Wintering snow geese

Cape Henlopen State Park

The Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay at Cape Henlopen Drive. This is why nature lovers consider it one of the most scenic places to go for bird watching, especially if you are particularly interested in waterbirds. There’s a lot to do at Cape Henlopen if you’re heading there for the summer. The historic Fort Miles is open for touring. There’s also a park and the seaside to explore. 

Hikers and mountain climbers will find many things to do at Cape Henlopen too. The pristine location offers many great hiking trails that vary in length and distance, from 25 minutes to 2 hours. They even have a “borrow a bike” program specifically for hikers who aren’t interested in walking. 

A seascape view at Cape Henlopen, Delaware in Lewes.
There are many things to do at Cape Henlopen, from going to the beach to birding and hiking.

©iStock.com/ymn

Common Birds at Cape Henlopen State Park

Middle Run Natural Area

On Possum Hollow Road, in Newark, you’ll find the 860-acre park, a long-standing favorite of nature enthusiasts in Delaware. The Delaware Nature Society made it a big part of their Middle Run Valley reforestation project. Beginning in 1991, they started a planting project that culminated in 50,000 trees and shrubs. 

Avid bird watchers typically enjoy spending time in this location. It’s got scenic views of rolling hills and vast fields that can be viewed from the trails. Middle Run is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is one of the best bird migration sites and hosts over 200 bird species. Summer mornings are beautiful at Middle Run because you can catch a glimpse of a beautiful variety of birds flying across the sunrise.

Most Expensive Birds-Scarlet Tanager
The song of the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) has been compared to that of a “robin with a sore throat.”

©Stubblefield Photography/Shutterstock.com

Common Birds found at Middle Run Natural Area 

Brandywine Creek State Park

Brandywine is located north of Wilmington and is an active hotspot for birding activities during migration. The park is built around the Brandywine River. The river, along with the diverse habitats of forests, thickets, meadows, and fields, is excellent for hiking and for bird watching all year round. The park is best known as a hotspot for migratory birds such as eastern thrushes, warblers, and songbirds. 

The Brandywine Creek State Park is particularly great for family outings. Most birding fans target the Highway 92 bridge located on the east side of the creek as it is the hub of bird activities in the park. There are accessible trails to get you there. Tulip Tree Woods, an old-growth forest site, is another great location to explore if you’re looking for forest birds. 

Baltimore oriole
The Baltimore oriole is common in North America.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com

Common Birds at Brandywine Creek State Park 

Conclusion

Whether you are a total newbie to the birding world or an avid birder, you’ll find the locations listed here to be some of Delaware’s best bird watching spots. They’re indeed the best places to get a pleasant bird watching experience in the Blue Hen State. 

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The Featured Image

scarlet tanager high in a tree
Part of the scarlet tanager's scientific name means olive green.
© iStock.com/Trevor_Jones_Photo

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.

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Sources
  1. Audubon, Available here: https://www.audubon.org/news/birding-delaware
  2. Delaware Birding Trail, Available here: http://www.delawarebirdingtrail.com/dbt.html
  3. Visit Delaware, Available here: https://www.visitdelaware.com/things-to-do/outdoors/birding