Green Pond, Bethlehem, PA:
An Important Bird Area
The flooded fields (Green Pond Marsh) located on Green Pond Road in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County is one of the best areas for wetland birds in the Lehigh Valley and perhaps, eastern Pennsylvania. This area has been attracting unusual birds since the 1970’s and hopefully will continue to do so. There is virtually no place of its kind in the Lehigh Valley. Wet areas such as this may not seem like much to the average eye, but they provide important resting and feeding stops for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other species.

In spring, especially after heavy rains, the water levels in many of our lakes and ponds become too high to provide habitat for migratory shorebirds. However, flooded fields are often utilized by shorebirds before they dry up. The benefit of Green Pond Marsh is that it does not dry up like an ordinary temporary puddle. It often stays wet for extended periods of time providing a muddy shoreline where shorebirds and waterfowl can feed. Many of these birds remain for days and sometimes a week or more feeding on organisms in the soft mud. It is especially important to the shorebirds since it provides an area where they can refuel and build up body fat they need to complete their long journey to their Arctic and sub-Arctic nesting grounds.

Over the years, the wet fields at Green Pond have attracted over 160 species of birds and at least 20 different species of shorebirds, including such rarities as American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Red-necked Phalarope. Sometimes flocks of Least Sandpipers reach 100+ individuals. On one occasion, a flock of 11 Glossy Ibis were seen here, the largest flock ever recorded in the Lehigh Valley. Once a Sandhill Crane spent an entire winter in the fields around Green Pond, which at the time was the longest stay of a Sandhill Crane in Pennsylvania during the winter months. Green Pond Marsh has also attracted over 20 species of migratory waterfowl. Over 100 Northern Pintails have been seen here at one time and large numbers of Green-winged Teal have also been seen here. The first county record of the rare Ross’s Goose came from Green Pond and the only record of Barnacle Goose was recorded here. In addition, the Greater White-fronted Goose has also been recorded here several times.

It is presently one of the largest staging areas of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in North America, with counts of 200+ individuals. Other gulls seen here have included Iceland, Glaucous, Bonaparte’s and Laughing. Occasionally terns are seen after storms. Once a Royal Tern was seen, the only record for Northampton County and one of only a few records for Pennsylvania.

The area is also a great spot for Neotropical birds including breeders like Eastern Kingbird, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and Orchard Oriole and migrants like Blackpoll Warbler and Northern Waterthrush. During migration, one can see five different species of swallows feeding on insect life over the water. In addition, the agricultural fields around the Marsh flooded area could be planted in native grasses and wildflowers providing habitat for grassland birds and butterflies, which really need our help.

Most importantly, Green Pond Marsh could be used as an educational site for schools and colleges. It would be an excellent location for teaching students about the importance of wetlands and preserving habitat. The students could be involved in management projects such as planting native wetland plants, erecting and placing nesting boxes, and collecting data on the bird life. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsors a “Shorebirds Sister Cities Program” where cities are nominated as a “Shorebird Sister City” if they have demonstrated their commitment to shorebird conservation through good city planning. Also, Audubon International has a program that promotes “environmentally friendly golf courses.” Green Pond Marsh would be an ideal model for both of these programs.

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 Snow Geese Spectacle at Green Pond Marsh

The list of birds found at Green Pond Marsh now stands at 182.

This list was compiled with the input of the many expert local birders from our area.

1) Greater White-fronted Goose
2) Snow Goose
3) Ross's Goose
4) Barnacle Goose
5) Cackling Goose
6) Canada Goose
7) Brant
8) Tundra Swan
9) Mute Swan
10) Wood Duck
11) Mallard
12) American Black Duck
13) Gadwall
14) Green-winged Teal
15) American Wigeon
16) Northern Pintail
17) Northern Shoveler
18) Blue-winged Teal
19) Ring-necked Duck
20) Bufflehead
21) Common Merganser*
22) Hooded Merganser
23) Ruddy Duck
24) Wild Turkey
25) Common Loon
26) Pied-billed Grebe
27) Horned Grebe*
28) Double-crested Cormorant
29) American Bittern
30) Black-crowned Night-Heron
31) Green Heron
32) Little Blue Heron
33) Cattle Egret
34) Snowy Egret*
35) Great Egret
36) Great Blue Heron
37) Glossy Ibis
38) White Ibis
39) Turkey Vulture
40) Black Vulture
41) Osprey
42) Mississippi Kite
43) Northern Harrier
44) Bald Eagle
45) Sharp-shinned Hawk
46) Cooper's Hawk
47) Broad-winged Hawk
48) Red-shouldered Hawk
49) Red-tailed Hawk
50) American Kestrel*
51) Merlin
52) Peregrine Falcon
53) Common Moorhen
54) American Coot
55) Sandhill Crane
56) Black-bellied Plover
57) Semipalmated Plover
58) Killdeer
59) American Avocet
60) Lesser Yellowlegs
61) Greater Yellowlegs
62) Solitary Sandpiper
63) Spotted Sandpiper
64) Sanderling
65) Dunlin
66) Semipalmated Sandpiper
67) Western Sandpiper
68) Least Sandpiper
69) White-rumped Sandpiper
70) Baird's Sandpiper
71) Pectoral Sandpiper
72) Short-billed Dowitcher
73) Stilt Sandpiper
74) Wilson's Snipe
75) Wilson's Phalarope
76) Red-necked Phalarope
77) Bonaparte's Gull
78) Ring-billed Gull
79) California Gull
80) Herring Gull
81) Glaucous Gull
82) Iceland Gull
83) Lesser Black-backed Gull
84) Great Black-backed Gull
85) Royal Tern
86) Caspian Tern*
87) Forster's Tern
88) Common Tern
89) Black Tern
90) Rock Pigeon
91) Mourning Dove
92) Great Horned Owl
93) Common Nighthawk
94) Chimney Swift
95) Ruby-throated Hummingbird
96) Belted Kingfisher
97) Red-bellied Woodpecker
98) Northern Flicker
99) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker*
100) Downy Woodpecker
101) Hairy Woodpecker*
102) Eastern Wood-Pewee
103) Willow Flycatcher*
104) Least Flycatcher
105) Eastern Phoebe
106) Great Crested Flycatcher
107) Eastern Kingbird
108) Red-eyed Vireo
109) Warbling Vireo
110) Blue Jay
111) American Crow
112) Fish Crow
113) Horned Lark
114) Tree Swallow
115) Bank Swallow
116) Cliff Swallow
117) Northern Rough-winged Swallow
118) Barn Swallow
119) Tufted Titmouse
120) Black-capped Chickadee
121) Carolina Chickadee
122) Brown Creeper*
123) White-breasted Nuthatch
124) Red-breasted Nuthatch*
125) House Wren
126) Carolina Wren
127) Golden-crowned Kinglet*
128) Ruby-crowned Kinglet
129) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
130) Eastern Bluebird
131) Hermit Thrush*
132) American Robin
133) Gray Catbird
134) Northern Mockingbird
135) Brown Thrasher
136) European Starling
137) American Pipit
138) Cedar Waxwing
139) Prothonotary Warbler
140) Tennessee Warbler*
141) Nashville Warbler
142) Northern Parula*
143) Magnolia Warbler
144) Yellow-rumped Warbler
145) Black-and-white Warbler
146) Black-throated Green Warbler
147) Yellow-throated Warbler
148) Blackpoll Warbler
149) Pine Warbler*
150) Palm Warbler
151) Yellow Warbler
152) Canada Warbler*
153) Wilson's Warbler
154) Louisiana Waterthrush
155) Northern Waterthrush
156) Common Yellowthroat
157) American Redstart
158) Scarlet Tanager*
159) Eastern Towhee
160) Field Sparrow
161) Chipping Sparrow
162) Savannah Sparrow
163) Song Sparrow
164) Swamp Sparrow
165) White-throated Sparrow
166) Dark-eyed Junco
167) Rose-breasted Grosbeak
168) Northern Cardinal
169) Indigo Bunting
170) Bobolink
171) Eastern Meadowlark*
172) Red-winged Blackbird
173) Common Grackle
174) Rusty Blackbird
175) Brown-headed Cowbird
176) Orchard Oriole
177) Baltimore Oriole
178) Purple Finch*
179) House Finch
180) Pine Siskin*
181) American Goldfinch
182) House Sparrow

Credit to Dave DeReamus

* Added to the list in March 2015.

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