Great Day With NYC Audubon!

The Bergen County Audubon Society and the NJSEA today welcomed members of the New York City Audubon Society to DeKorte Park and Harrier Meadow. BCAS President Don Torino and NJSEA staffers Gaby Bennett-Meany and Drew McQuade led the group on a three-hour tour during which the group took in Killdeer, Green-winged teal, Black Duck, Gadwalls, a Red-tailed Hawk and more.

“It’s just beautiful here,” said Gabriel Willow of NYC Audubon. “All the waterfowl and wetlands are pretty spectacular. It was really nice to have all these folks from Bergen Audobon and here at the park that know the area really well to guide us.”

“Our Meadowlands were more beautiful than ever this morning in the newly fallen snow,” Don said. “We had the privilege of guiding a great group of folks from New York City Audubon on a field trip to DeKorte Park and Harrier Meadow. There is nothing better than seeing the faces of people that visit the Meadowlands for the very first time. It makes me remember how lucky we are to have this gem in our own backyard.”

DeKorte On A Snowy Friday Morning

 


DeKorte Park conveys a special beauty and sense of tranquility after a snowfall. I took a walk down the Marsh Discovery Trail in the park this morning along with a group from the New York City Audubon Society who are visiting today. Thanks to Bergen County Audubon for leading the walk! We’ll have updates on what we see throughout the day. For now, enjoy these photos, including an untouched portion of the trail and a “Great Blue Heron Was Here” shot.

 

Super Bird Sunday Is Almost Here!

football-egret-right-super-bird-sunday-croppedGet some fresh air before planting yourself on the couch for the big game this coming Sunday by joining the Bergen County Audubon Society’s Super Bird Sunday nature walk! The walk takes place at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus, from 10 am to noon.

While looking for winter birds, the BCAS will award prizes to the first participants who spot a bird that is also an NFL team name: Cardinal, Raven, Falcon, Eagle, Seahawk (osprey), Giant (great) egret  and Giant (great) blue heron.

For more information on this fun and educational walk, email greatauk4@gmail.com or call 201-230-4983.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Native Grasses for the Backyard

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Ornamental grasses are beautiful, add interest and texture to our gardens, and have become a favorite in home landscaping. Unfortunately, many grasses sold at nurseries are non-native and of little value to wildlife. Even worse, they can become invasive. The good news is that with a little searching you can find native grasses at your local nursery that will benefit wildlife and look beautiful in the home landscape.

Here is a partial list of some native grasses, known as the Big Four, and how they can help the habitat in your own backyard.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – This clump forming, warm season grass with open, lacy sprays with small seeds has been restored to many places in the Meadowlands, from DeKorte Park and Mill Creek Marsh to River Barge Park and Laurel Hill Park. Many songbirds, including Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Towhees and numerous native sparrow species, love the seeds produced by this beautiful curly leaf clumping grass. Switchgrass is also a host plant for many species of Skipper butterflies and can easily be found at just about any garden center.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparius) – Little Bluestem is a very ornamental bunchgrass with fine textured foliage that forms very dense mounds. Turkey, Juncos and sparrows love the seeds of bluestem from this 1-to-4-foot yellow tan grass. This beautiful grass is also the host plant for Skipper and Satyr butterflies.

Big Bluestem (Andopogon gerardii) – Fast disappearing from its native range, great for restoration projects on larger properties, but too big for the average backyard. The seeds of this almost 8-foot-tall grass are used by many songbirds such as finches, juncos and sparrows, and is also loved by turkey. If you happened to have a buffalo roaming around your New Jersey home, they would love it too. The Skippers and Satyr butterflies also will use Big Bluestem as a host plant.

Indian grass (Sorgastrum nutans) – A beautiful grass with a somewhat metallic golden sheen, it is a native grass that grows from east of the Rockies all the way to the Atlantic Coast. This tall grass (3-to-8-feet) with its shiny golden brown plumes is loved by many birds, from Cardinals and pipits to our native sparrows, and, of course, it is a host plant for Skipper butterflies. Indian grass makes a beautiful addition to the home wildlife habitat

It is vitally important that we restore the balance to our backyard eco-systems, and introducing our native grasses is one important way we can accomplish this while making our backyards more beautiful and healthy.

Meadowlands Nature Blog Celebrates Black History Month

     We are honoring Black History Month with a weekly post each Monday throughout February on people and places related to the Meadowlands. The posts are taken from our archives and were originally done by former staffer Jim Wright.

Today the focus is Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann, who grew up in Rutherford. Mr. Spann died this past September.

In future weeks we’ll  look at the Underground Railroad in Jersey City, a slave cemetery in Little Ferry, and a famous black actress and civil rights activist who worked in Kearny.

   Calvin J. Spann, who grew up in Rutherford,  served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Spann
From 1943 to 1946, 1st Lt. Spann served in the US Army Air Force, 332nd Fighter Group, 100th Squadron, as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — the first-ever group of black Army pilots. 
Spann was among an elite group of Tuskegee Airmen who escorted B-17 bombers and reconnaissance  planes over Nazi Germany during World War. Spann flew 26 combat missions.

   In a phone interview yesterday from his home in Texas, Spann said: “My growing up in Rutherford inspired me to be a Tuskegee Airman. Planes from Teterboro Airport took off right over my house.

   “I was able to do everything any young man in high school did, and when I got into the Air Corps and they said they didn’t think I could learn to fly, I thought that was preposterous. I’d been doing everything everyone else was doing all my life, and it really stuck with me. That was my experience growing up in Rutherford.”

    Click here for more with Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann.

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Super Bird Sunday Is Coming!

football-egret-right-super-bird-sunday-croppedGet some fresh air before planting yourself on the couch for the big game this coming Sunday by joining the Bergen County Audubon Society’s Super Bird Sunday nature walk! The walk takes place at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus, from 10 am to noon.

While looking for winter birds, the BCAS will award prizes to the first participants who spot a bird that is also an NFL team name: Cardinal, Raven, Falcon, Eagle, Seahawk (osprey), Giant (great) egret  and Giant (great) blue heron.

For more information on this fun and educational walk, email greatauk4@gmail.com or call 201-230-4983.

Peregrine Strikes A Pose

Ron Shields took these photos of a very cooperative Peregrine Falcon perched along Valley Brook Avenue just prior to last weekend’s snowstorm. Perhaps the friendly falcon is looking to jumpstart a modeling career.

New Programs in February at the Meadowlands Environment Center!

Don Smith 2-aWe’re pleased to announce two great programs taking place at the Meadowlands Environment Center next month. On Thursday, Feb. 11, from 2 to 3 pm, join Don Smith for a talk on the “Natural History of the Meadowlands.” A Meadowlands native, Don grew up in Little Ferry exploring the Meadows as a kid in the 1950s. He has an abundance of great stories to share. The program is free and you can register at njsea.eventbrite.com

jessica-verdina1-AThe Meadowlands has always been a place for peaceful relaxation, and now for the first time we’re giving you the chance to further balance tranquility of the mind, body and soul with an “Evening Yoga Class,” on Monday, Feb. 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. The program is open to all levels of students-beginner to advanced, ages 14 and up. Cost is $10. Sign-up at njsea.eventbrite.com.

Hope to see you at the MEC next month!

 

 

 

 

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Plant a Birch, Save a Bird (and some Butterflies and Moths Too)

Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Birches” that “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.” As much value as birch trees might be to your exercise regime, they are one of the most beneficial trees you can plant to help wildlife.

Seeds produced by the “catkins,” or seed clusters, attract many bird species such as our State Bird, the American Goldfinch. In fact, if you were to take a catkin and tap it in the palm of your hand, you would see many tiny seeds very similar to the commercially available thistle or nyger seed used for finch feeders. Besides our goldfinch, irruption birds such as Redpolls, Purple finch and Pine siskins relish the tiny seeds that are important to their survival.

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