May 4, 2022

Spot Several Species of Birds As They Make Their Way North

LOOK AND LISTEN: Early May is prime birdwatching season, and there are several opportunities to see and hear them on walks led by experts. The redstart warbler is among the species likely to make an appearance.

By Anne Levin

Looking out her window this past Monday morning, Barbara Dawson was thrilled to spy a redstart warbler in her hemlock tree. Black with orange trim, the eye-catching bird was a welcome visitor, “a wonderful way to start the day,” said Dawson, who lives in New Brunswick with her husband and fellow birding enthusiast. “It was beautiful, just beautiful.”

The Dawsons will lead a bird walk along the D&R Canal in Franklin Township this Sunday morning. The trek is one of several being held this month, locally and in neighboring regions. Each is focused on spotting birds and listening to their songs as they stop on their way to migrate north.

Local events include a bird walk at the Institute Woods, and a bilingual introduction to birdwatching at Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, held in English and Mandarin. Across the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pa., there are events at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and the grounds of the Bucks County Audubon Society, among other locations.

“It’s addicting and it’s pleasurable,” said Dawson. “There is the beauty of being out in nature, particularly in early May when nature is revealing its wonders. There is the thrill of seeing birds that we don’t often see — warblers and vireos — as they come through, most on their way to New England and Canada.”

Following is a sampling of birdwatching events taking place in Princeton and beyond over the next few weeks:

Bird Walk at the Institute Woods, Saturday, May 7 at 8 a.m.: Join Winnie Spar, David Padulo, and Brad Merritt of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society to observe the spring migration of warblers and other songbirds.

Bird Walk at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, 1635 River Road, New Hope, Pa., Saturday, May 7 from 8-9:30 a.m. (also held May 14 and 21): For ages 10 and up. Leave from the Visitors’ Center and bring binoculars if you have them. Register by Friday, April 6 by emailing

Bird Walk at 2877 Creamery Road, New Hope, Pa., Saturday, May 7 from 8-10 a.m.: A naturalist from the Bucks County Audubon Society leads bird walks around the property every first and third Saturday of the month, for all ages and levels of experience. Bring binoculars or borrow from them. (215) 297-5880.

Bird Walk along the D&R Canal in Franklin Township, Sunday, May 8 at 8 a.m.: Barbara and George Dawson lead the walk, which starts at the historic Van Wickle House off Easton Avenue at the foot of DeMott Lane (for GPS: 1289 Easton Avenue, Somerset). Free, no registration necessary. Email for more information.

Bilingual Introduction to Birdwatching, Saturday, May 21 from 8:30-10:30 a.m.: In English and Mandarin, led by Princeton University Professor David Wilcove and Mandarin-speaking biologists, at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve. Sponsored by Friends of Princeton Open Space. Free. Register at

Whitesbog and Environs, Saturday, May 21 at 8:15 a.m.: A free public birding trip with the Washington Crossing Audubon Society led by Mark Manning and Brad Merritt at Whitesbog, an Audubon-designed important bird area in the Pinelands. Registration information at

Delaware Water Gap public birding trip, Saturday, May 28 at 9 a.m.: A free field trip with the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, led by Brad Merritt, to numerous sites at the Delaware Water Gap area where you might see cerulean, blackburnian, and yellow-throated warblers among other species. Registration information at