Hidden Philly: The Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary


As a parent, what's more exciting than uncovering a fantastic, previously unknown place to take the kids, right in your own backyard? MomSpeaker Sandra Telep recently came across a true West Philly hidden treasure — and spills the beans about it here.

I do love discovering a hidden treasure tucked away in our neighborhood, and today some friends introduced us to a new favorite. The Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary is a slice of urban forrest concealed in the interior of a block we've walked by hundreds of times.

The entrance is on Melville near the corner of Locust. A narrow walkway between a garage with a white door and 233 S. Melville leads back into a small grove populated with native plants that attract birds. There are paths weaving throughout the plot of woodland with a clearing in the center. Benches made from logs sprinkle the area creating many places to sit quietly and birdwatch. I can't believe I had no idea this sanctuary was here! 

Initially it does feel like you are walking into someone's backyard (and yards do line the sanctuary), but the sign above greets you are the end of the walkway, so you know you are in the right place. You'd never know it was there — we certainly didn't.  And to think, it's been right there in our (well, our neighbors') backyard all this time.

Bird feeders hang from branches and poles, and there's even a mister to attract hummingbirds. Volunteers restock the feeders, water the plants and maintain the landscape.

The bird food is kept locked up to protect it from squirrels. You can donate to the bird food fund by sending a check to:

257 S. 45th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Attn: Anne Froehling

We only spotted pigeons today, but I imagine if you are quieter and calmer than a 2 and 4-year-old you could spot many more species.

I would recommend packing some bug spray because the mosquitos were out in full force. Still, it was lovely to sit on a bench in the shade while the kids "hiked" the paths and looked for birds. I bet it would be a great spot to read if you are sans children.

Are there more of these kinds of serene spots hidden away just blocks from where we live and play? This and the BioPond are so fantastic — I don't want to be missing out on any other hidden oases.

Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.


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