SJ Attr: Palmyra Cove Nature Park

by R. Cohen | Sep 2, 2003
SJ Attr: Palmyra Cove Nature Park The Palmyra Cove Nature Park (PCNP) is 350 acres of green in a highly developed area on the Delaware River just south of the Tacony Palmyra Bridge. With its woodlands, wetlands, tidal cove and wild river shore line, PCNP serves as an important feeding site for migratory birds, and a beautiful and exciting place to visit.

A Habitat for Birds
NJ Audubon Society has identified over 250 different species of birds in the Park. Most of them are migratory, so spring and fall are very busy seasons in the Park:
Spring - Returning from their long journeys, sometimes thousands of miles, the birds stake out their territory, a spot where they will find shelter, water and food.
Fall - Birds are busy "fattening up" and preparing to travel to their wintering spots.

There are nesting birds as well - one of these is the saw whet owl. The PCNP and the Pine Barrens are the only two confirmed nesting sites in NJ for the saw whet. This special bird is a small owl only about 7 inches tall and is completely nocturnal. In our park, it nests under a canopy of honeysuckle vines. These vines grow up tree trunks, attaching themselves to the branches, and creates a protective canopy which the saw whet nestles under to protect itself from predators. The saw whets summer in Canada and hopefully will be back in the park in December.

These very important habitats are quickly disappearing in our state and in others, as development moves forward. Therefore, the wetlands are important sites for preservation. Among the wetland sites in the park there is a 1.6 mile shoreline, along the Delaware River, from the Interpretive Center to the point of the Tidal Cove. There is also a tidal marsh, tidal creeks and a pond.

These wetlands provide habitat for a variety of water birds such as loons, grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, geese, swans, egrets, and many more, including the American white pelican, which can be seen in the fall. The wetlands also provide habitat for plants, snakes, fish, turtles and frogs in various stages of development. The water level in the wetlands will determine which among the many living things will actually be present at any given time. Each also has a different place on the food chain. Part of the beauty of nature is to be found in its interconnectedness.

There is a variety of trees, plants, berry bushes, climbing vines and wild flowers. Some are native and some are non-native, some are fast growing and invasive species and some are slow growing and non-invasive. A special attraction of the woodlands is the succession forest; you can see early reforestation (low growth and seedling trees) to older growth (trees are taller with less light filtering down to the ground and, consequently, less underbrush) all the way to the mature, or climax forest where trees are thirty feet high, the canopy is broad and the forest floor is dark. These trees ultimately compete for water, begin to die, fall to the ground, and the entire process begins again.

Park Trails
The Park has an extensive trail system which begins at the environmental education center and wanders by the ecologically sensitive tidal marsh - a prime bird watching area. It then continues along the Delaware River before going back to the center. As a visitor, you will be impressed by the colorful flora and fauna. With some guidance, you can learn about the importance of the wetlands ecosystem and a variety of other habitats. The Park is large enough, and covered with enough vegetation, that a visit feels like a walk in the country, far from the traffic and congestion of nearby residential and commercial areas. The trails, threaded throughout the Park, make it a pleasant place for walking and jogging.

New Environmental Discovery Center
Last month, the PCNP opened their new Environmental Discovery Center. The Center houses interactive displays that offer opportunities to learn about the wide array of plants, birds, and other wildlife to be found in the Park. Also, the Center has displays and information on the historical importance of Palmyra Cove and the neighboring Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.

Special Events
Bird Walks for beginning birders are scheduled for Saturday, September 13; Sunday, September 28; Saturday, October 4; and Saturday October 18, 2003. All walks will leave from the Environmental Discovery Center at 8am.

Volunteers Needed
Is it the solitude of a walk in the park that appeals to you, or is it the excitement of learning new things in a beautiful environment? Either way, join the Friends of Palmyra Cove Nature Park and be part of a new adventure. Friends of Palmyra Cove, Inc. (FPC) is a volunteer, non-profit organization established in 1999 to preserve natural habitats and to provide environmental education and passive recreational opportunities for all who visit the Park. Become a member today. Volunteers are needed for receptionist, exhibit guides and trail guides. Please contact us by filling out their online contact form here or by calling (856) 829-1900 (x261).

Palmyra Cove Nature Park is located just south of the Tacony Palmyra Bridge on the Delaware River in Palmyra. For more information and directions, call (856) 829-1900 or visit their website at

For an extensive list of South Jersey Attractions, with links to websites and other information, check out our Attractions page.

Information provided courtesy of Palmyra Cove Nature Park.

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