The Girl Who Gets Gifts From Birds

gabiwithbirds624 by Lisa Mann“Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.”

Read the full article here.

Meadowlands Archive at Fairleigh Dickinson

State_of_New_JerseyA digitized archive of documents about the Meadowlands District is available for free online from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Maps, such as the one shown, date back to at least 1888. You can browse the archive by clicking here.

The collection includes geographical maps, geological maps, historic land use maps as well as reports and other resources important to the history of the Meadowlands District. The collection includes early annual reports from the Meadowlands Commission. The documents are in the public domain and are available for download or printing.

A New Weekly Post: From the Eagle’s Perch

duke eagles-2015-02-16-at-5-28-55-pmLast week this blog’s founder Jim Wright launched a new weekly series for Duke Farms and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation. He will be reporting on the progress of the Bald Eagle nest at Duke Farms throughout the nesting season. His posts will appear each Wednesday afternoon and are meant to supplement a live web cam feed set up in the fall of 2013.

Click here for the first article in the series; navigate from there to read the second; then wait with bated breath for the next installment.

First Sunday Bird Walk Recap

About twenty-five people came to DeKorte Park for our First Sunday bird walk yesterday. The temperature was colder than expected – about 26 degrees, but the snow held off until about an hour after we finished.

013b B Merganser Hooded 006bf RchrdDKorte Park Mdwlnds NJ 030115 OK FLICKRWe walked as a group from the EC parking lot to the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve, scouting the evergreens for a glimpse of a long-eared owl, to no avail. We saw a group of Hooded Mergansers in one of only a few open patches of water near the Saw Mill Creek Trail. Thanks to Mickey Raine for the photos here.

We decided to venture down to Disposal Road. (No construction work on Sunday – please remember the road is officially closed to traffic.)  We were rewarded with a long look at a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk, who hovered stock still for what seemed like 20 minutes over the Erie landfill, looking for prey.

Earlier we watched the same bird chase a Red-tailed Hawk from its perch on a lonely ailanthus, only to be harassed by some crows in turn. The Rough-leg flew off for a while before returning for its hovering performance.

Another Rough-leg, a light morph this time, glided over the Kingsland landfill, giving us a nice view, then perched where Don Torino was able to get his scope on it for a while. Rich Santangello of Bergen County Audubon was also there working the crowd.

There was also a small flock of Goldfinches, together with a couple of types of Sparrows, in the brush who kept a splinter group of birders occupied for a while.


What We Might See in March

Red-tail vs possum

To see what we might see in the Meadowlands this month, we thought we’d check what we posted on the blog last March.

Just click on the text to link to the post.

March 6: Red-tail Vs. Opossum on Disposal Road  (above)

March 12: The Killdeer Are Back

March 24: Alice the Eagle Update

March 25: Tiniest Turtle Debate

March 26: American Woodcock @ DeKorte

March 28: Yellow-headed Blackbird @ DeKorte

March 31: Ospreys on Nest.

First Sunday Bird Walk at DeKorte Park

RS Rough-legged Hawk dark morphThe forecast is still around 34 degrees for tomorrow’s First Sunday bird walk, which has been relocated to DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. Snow may be moving in after noon, but the morning should be dry.There have been some great sightings in the area recently, like this Rough-legged Hawk photographed by Ron Shields. Please meet at the Environment Center lobby at 10:00 on Sunday, March 1st.

Ridgefield Park Bald Eagles in the New York Times

duke eagles-2015-02-16-at-5-28-55-pmEarlier this week, the New York Times ran an article about the rise of the Bald Eagle population in the vicinity of New York City. It describes a program by the NYC Parks department:

“The park rangers took part in an eagle “hack” project for five years. It seems that eagles lay four eggs and the first two out of the shell tend to thrive, getting the most to eat. The two that dawdle don’t last long. To bolster the population, scientists have been relocating the runts. In New York, the eaglets were put in an artificial nest on a platform in Inwood Hill Park, near a salt marsh at the north end of Manhattan.”

Over time, twenty eagles were released. And according to author Jim Dwyer, Al and Alice, the Ridgefield Park eagles, are the “pride of the program”, having raised several generations of offspring thus far. And as reported here earlier this week, the pair are currently sitting on at least one egg.

Read the full NYTimes article here.

Read Jim Wright’s recent report here.

Read the original 2010 Meadowblog post that broke the story here.

Maple Syrup is Made in New Jersey Too

NJ sugaring by-001It’s almost that time…that magical time when warming days and still-freezing nights awaken the trees from their winter dormancy. That ‘s when the sap starts to flow. And people all over the northeast make maple syrup, including those right here in New Jersey.

The making of maple syrup and maple sugar, know collectively as sugaring, is a process which dates back hundreds of years. Early myths about maple are widespread among the Eastern Woodland Indians, including the Abenaki, Iroquois, and Micmac, though sugaring’s true origins are not clear.

There are several maple sugaring events taking place in NJ soon, beginning this weekend. Click here for a list of family-friendly events around the state.

Click here for an article from the University of Vermont about the history of sugaring in America.

Or maybe you’d enjoy a short essay I recently  wrote about an unforgettable experience I had sugaring in Vermont many years ago: