American White Avocet In Our Midst!

The American Avocet made a rare appearance in the Meadowlands yesterday. The wader usually doesn’t journey to New Jersey often, and when it does, the Avocet primarily stops in the southern portion of the State. Michael Britt first spotted this great looking bird Saturday in the Hudson County section of the Saw Mill Mudflats. It eventually flew to the Marsh Discovery Trail in DeKorte Park, where numerous birders reported it in the neighborhood of the Common Gallinule. In the afternoon the Avocet could be seen from the Transco Trail by the boat launch and the weather station. Chris Takacs’ photos are taken from the boat launch.

Enjoy Some Music By The Riverside!


Friday, Aug. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm
River Barge Park, Carlstadt

Relax beside the Hackensack River at our beautiful River Barge Park in Carlstadt. Watch the sun set while you listen to the sweet sounds of guitar and flute waft on the breeze. Jazz guitarist Rick Pressler and multi-instrumentalist Ken Lipman will improvise under the park’s pavilion while guests enjoy the music and stroll the park. Register here.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Marsh Wren Returns

Marsh wren 3By Don Torino
Guest Columnist

Whether you are wandering the trails of DeKorte Park, or meandering Mill Creek Point you are almost sure to hear bubbling burbles and chatters coming from meadow grasses. This seldom seen but more often heard little bird is the Marsh Wren. A delightful, tiny bird about 5 inches in length that makes up for its small stature with its loud singing voice. The Marsh Wren can be heard filling the meadows air with its gurgling melody in both day and even sometimes at night during breeding season. For me it is a joy to hear its unique happy sounds as I stroll the Marsh Discovery Trail at DeKorte Park. At the same time it is also very challenging to get a glimpse of the little wren unless you are very patient as it quickly maneuvers thorough the phragmities searching for insects. Occasionally if you are very lucky one will pop to the top of the grasses and give you a quick peak before it disappears once again.

It seems to me that the Marsh Wren was not always as common as it is today in the Meadowlands.   I can’t recall seeing or hearing this charming little bird in my more youthful years. Just as the Eagle and the osprey have returned maybe it was also the case for the little Marsh Wren? So, since birders’ memories can be a bit subjective (especially mine) I thought I would ask Rick Wright , author of “Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey.”

“Marsh wrens are exceptionally sensitive to habitat changes” Rick told me , “and when marshes degrade or are destroyed, the marsh wrens go with them. They’ve increased in the Meadowlands with the increase in marsh quality — but may decline again if, for example, certain new non-native invasive plants such as Arundo colonize.” Rick also said they are susceptible to pollutants. “Marsh Wrens are also known to carry high levels of heavy metals in southwest Arizona, but I don’t know whether that’s the case here,” he said.

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Nature Walk At River Barge Park This Sunday

joThe First-Sunday-of-the-Month Nature Walk with the BCAS and NJSEA is this Sunday, Aug. 2, from 10 am to 3 pm at River Barge Park in Carlstadt. We’ll stroll this beautiful park along the Hackensack River and look for ospreys, herons, egrets, butterflies, and more while taking in the scenic views. To register for this free event click here. For more information call 201-230-4983.

Sora Photographed at DeKorte Park

Sora Rich BrownRichard Brown sent this photo of the Sora that has been sighted numerous times at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst over the past week. The bird is not uncommon to the region, but is a rare sight. According to, the Sora is a small, secretive bird of freshwater marshes and the  most common and widely distributed rail in North America. Its distinctive descending whinny call can be easily heard, but actually seeing the little marsh-walker is much more difficult.

(Not So) Stealthy Least Bittern and Sora

Soras and Least Bitterns are usually quite stealthy, but the small, secretive birds have been making themselves known at DeKorte Park over the past week. There have been multiple, near daily reports of a Sora; if anyone has photos, please send to me at and I’ll post. Dennis Cheeseman caught the Least Bittern in the sequence above.


Butterfly Day Kids

DSC_0996Judging by these photos, the kids had a great time at Butterfly Day while learning about the importance of environmental conservation and stewardship. Getting youngsters out into our parks and natural areas is crucial in inspiring the next generation of naturalists, biologists, scientists and all matter of champions of the envirnoment.



Butterfly Day Species

Red Admiral pineconeAt least 14 butterfly species were observed in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst during Butterfly Day on Sunday, July 26, They are:


Red Admiral (photo by Maggie Sojkowski)

Broad-Winged Skipper

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Peck’s Skipper

Clouded Skipper

Least Skipper

Fiery Skipper

Zabulon Skipper

Eastern Comma

Easter Tiger Swallowtail


Pearl Crescent

Eastern-tailed Blue

Cabbage White






Butterfly Day Was Spectacular!

Our Sixth Annual Butterfly Day held yesterday proved to be the best-attended yet, with some 1,000 people, mostly families, visiting DeKorte Park throughout the day. There were at least 14 species identified, which we will list in a post to follow.

Visitors enjoyed butterfly walks and talks and, of course, viewing the winged marvels. Hundreds of kids painted bird boxes to take home and participated in butterfly crafts, coloring and face-painting.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our co-sponsors, the Bergen County Audubon Society and the North Jersey Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.  Thanks also to the Monarch Teachers Network.

We hope to post multiple photos throughout the day. To start, here are (above, left to right), an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red Admiral and Silver Spotted Skipper, courtesy of Jim Wright.