The NJMC's Jim Wright wrote this column for The South Bergenite. It appears in today's editions.
New to bird-watching and want to learn about the abundant wonders in our own backyard?
The N.J. Meadowlands Commission is hosting the seventh annual Meadowlands Festival of Birding, a great way for beginners and experts alike to see a variety of great birds and butterflies.
The two-day event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12, this year. Saturday’s programs, headquartered at the Environment Center in DeKorte Park, feature such p
opular events as pontoon-boat birding cruises on the Hackensack River, a bird-banding demonstration, a butterfly session, plenty of bird walks and a keynote address by Richard Crossley, a co-author of “The Shorebird Guide.”
This is one of the best times to go birding in the Meadowlands, and BirdFest is a great way to participate.
One of my favorite events is the bird-banding demonstration at Harrier Meadow, just down Disposal Road a bit from DeKorte Park. It’s also popular with BirdFest-goers. Last year, 125 people – roughly half the attendees — watched NJMC Naturalist Mike Newhouse as he banded, measured and weighed birds.
What’s the big attraction at the event, which runs from 7 to 9:30 a.m.?
“The banding program gives people a chance too see birds up-close,” says Newhouse. “And sometimes we get some unusual birds – like blue grosbeaks, indigo buntings and even a sharp-shinned hawk.”
As a bonus, Newhouse will place the bird in the hand of festival-goer and allow the person to hold the bird until it flies away.
Newhouse loves bird-banding for two reasons.
“It allows us to collect important data so we can help future bird populations,” Newhouse says “I also enjoy the chance to give people an opportunity to learn more about birds and bird biology. You never know, someone that comes to one of our programs or assists with the banding project could find themselves becoming a bird enthusiast or even start a career in avian ecology.”
The BirdFest is a great place for budding ornithologists to start. Not only are loaner binoculars available, but the festival’s nature and birding store offers field guides,
binoculars and expert advice. There’s also plenty of helpful birders leading the nature walks.
The Seventh Annual Meadowlands Festival of Birding is on Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12. Tickets are $40; children ages 10 to 17 are admitted free. Admission allows you to participate in as many field trips and programs as you can squeeze in, as well as breakfast and lunch Saturday. To register or get more information, log on to www.HackensackRiverkeeper.org
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.
Photo: A yellowlegs looks for lunch at DeKorte Park.
Credit: Jim Wright/NJMC