Jim W’s latest ‘Nature Next Door’ Column


    The NJMC's Jim Wright writes the "Nature Next Door"  column for The South Bergenite."  His latest column, on shorebirds, follows.

    If you think midsummer is a slow time for bird-watching in the Meadowlands, guess again. As New Jersey Meadowlands Commission naturalists can attest, this time of year is prime time for many migratory shorebirds traveling through the region – and for many remarkable birds that spend much of the year here.

  “Many shorebirds migrate much earlier than most people would think, and DeKorte Park and other sites in the Meadowlands are major rest stops for these birds on their journeys,” says Mike Newhouse.

   The reason is simple.  “The tidal mudflats found in the Meadowlands are rich in food resources that may provide the shorebirds the crucial energy they need to continue their migration south,”  he says. 

   Last week, birder Chris Takacs of Lyndhurst kept a list  of the amazing variety of birds he saw at DeKorte Park, and other local avian hot spots — and then alerted top bird-watchers statewide with an e-mail to JerseyBirds.com.

    I was so impressed with the numbers and variety of birds on Chris’ list that I am pointing them out here: peregrine falcon, American kestrel, northern harrier, osprey, two blue grosbeaks, a ring-necked pheasant, 1 least tern, 18-20 Forster’s terns, laughing gull, clapper rail, yellow-crowned night heron, black-crowned night heron, 10-20 greater and lesser yellowlegs, 200-plus semi-palmated and least sandpipers, 2-4 short-billed dowitchers, spotted sandpipers, western sandpiper, 100+ barn swallows, 3-4 bank swallows, numerous indigo buntings and marsh wrens, and Eastern kingbirds still tending to young.

  Noted Chris in a classic understatement, “Seeing 1000+ shorebirds this afternoon in the Meadowlands has to mean the migration has begun.”

   What’s impressed me was the number of birds on Chris’ list that are considered endangered, threatened or of special concern in by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

   The peregrine falcon, the northern harrier, and the least tern are on the endangered list,

   The black-crowned and yellow-crowned night herons, the osprey and the black skimmer are on the threatened list.

  The semi-palmated and spotted sandpipers are on the special-concern list.  So are two other species so commonplace that Chris didn’t bother to mention them – the great blue heron and snowy egret.

  Later, when I talked to Chris about his list, he apologized for forgetting to common nighthawks as well – yet another bird on the state list of birds of special concern.

  That’s a dozen of the 58 species that the state considers to be in peril to some degree – and the Meadowlands is an important place for many of the other species on the list.

   All of which is a nice reminder that not only is the Meadowlands a great bed-and-breakfast for migratory birds, but it is also a place that lots of rare birds call home.

  And it’s all in your own backyard.


NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright maintains the Commission’s daily nature blog, meadowblog.net – featuring beautiful photography and the latest info on the region’s abundant natural wonders.

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