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Circleville Park, Centre County, PA

Anna Fasoli|

While driving to Scotia Barrens to look for warblers this September, I repeatedly drove by Circleville Park thinking, “I should really stop there.” The park is between Circleville Road and Valley Vista Drive, and accessed from either road. It park has various sports fields and a playground, and in the warmer months it always seemed to be full of people. The park also consists of paved and mowed walking trails, a disc golf course, and many paths through what appears to be great sparrow habitat. There are also trails that go through wooded areas and connect with nearby housing developments.

Today was a nice and sunny fall day so I took the opportunity to finally explore the park. Here is a quick google map I made of the park. My walk started near the parking lot at the red circle, and the entire loop was about a 1.3 mile walk.

Circleville Park

From the parking lot I followed a row of trees and low bushes mostly along the disc golf course. American Goldfinches were feeding in the fields of thistle, and two Eastern Phoebes were flycatching. A Northern Mockingbird was singing towards the end of the row. Not many sparrows were in this row of trees besides Song Sparrows.

Eastern Phoebe

Song Sparrow

Next I cut across the open field of the park. Most of this is mowed, but there is still a lot of area that is not cut and has created great songbird habitat. Eastern Bluebirds were perched on chain link fences by the sports fields. There is also a network of bluebird boxes at the park. Over the eastern edge of the park, an American Crow was attacking a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk in flight; the sharpie retreated into trees and the crow joined about 6 others that were patrolling the area.

On reaching the far treeline, there is a large brush pile stacked up right before a trail entrance into some conifers (the pile is so large you can see it on the satellite image). Some White-throated, Field, and Song Sparrows flitted about here and on the forest edge with a Northern Mockingbird.

White-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Upon entering the forest here I was descended on by a flock of angry Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, and both species of Kinglets. Eventually both Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers joined in. Meanwhile Morning Doves were frantically trying to find new perches. I noticed a large fenced off area nearby, which is a forest regeneration area, blocked off so that deer cannot destroy the lower layers of the understory. Chipping Sparrows were numerous in this area as were White-breasted Nuthatches. There was another corn field just on the other side of the treeline here, where within just a few minute, a juvenile Red-tailed and an adult Cooper’s Hawk passed, both hunting.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Eventually I followed the edge of the treeline back towards where I started from but instead headed to the corn field/forest edge (marked orange on my map). This treeline was by far the best area for sparrows. I added Field and Lincoln Sparrow to my list, in addition to Dark-eyed Junco. By the time I reached the road, I had accumulated quite the mixed flock of sparrows, since they all were flushing in front of me as I walked. I highly suggest adding Circleville Park to your next day of birding in Centre County, as it seems to be a great hot spot for sparrows! Check out my complete checklist here.

Chipping Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow being highly uncooperative

The always cooperative Song Sparrow will make you feel better about your photography skills…

Chipping Sparrow watching me from the bushes

White-throated Sparrows always seem extra cautious…

About the Author

Anna Fasoli

Anna is a field biologist who has traveled all over the US working on different research projects. She has worked with Whooping Cranes, Northern Saw-whet Owls, Least Terns, Piping Plovers, Wilson's Snipe, Whimbrel, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, migrant eastern raptors, Crested Caracara, Long-billed Curlew, Florida Scrub-Jays and the southeastern subspecies of American Kestrels.