Bird Fest and Beyond

Jeff Nicol Avocet-1  

Birding at DeKorte will be showcased this Saturday with the Meadowlands Festival of Birding, but as the NJMC's Jim Wright points out in his latest column for The South Bergenite, the benefits of BirdFest could linger past Saturday.

His column is here.

   This Saturday is the big day for the seventh annual Meadowlands of Birding, headquartered at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst.

  It promises to be a great event, with programs ranging from guided bird walks and bird-banding demonstrations to pontoon-boat cruises and butterfly seminars. (To register or get more information, log on to

   If, heaven forbid, you don’t have enough time to attend the festival or you’re just a very casual birder, I have a bit of advice. DeKorte the-day-or-so-after ain’t chopped liver either.

   You won’t be able to borrow loaner binoculars or get all those great birding tips from experts, but you will be able to take advantage of a bit of their expertise – just a day or two later.

The rest of the column follows.


   The reason is simple, even if it goes by a strange name: the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect.

   Nearly a half-century ago, bird-watchers in Patagonia, Arizona, stopped at a picnic table and saw a pair of rare nesting birds called rose-breasted becards. They reported their discovery, and soon bird-watchers from all over were flocking to the picnic table.

   Not only did they see the becards, but they saw yellow grosbeaks, buff-collared nightjar and other rare birds – in large part because there were so many pairs of eyes on the area.

   That’s what happens at the Meadowlands Festival of Birding. So many experienced bird-watchers and checking DeKorte’s Shorebird Pool and other Meadowlands locales that they see all sorts of birds that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

   Take last month’s Kevin Karlson Shorebird Day at DeKorte. Karlson is one of the nation’s leading experts on shorebirds, so he attracted a crowd of top bird-watchers. We were about halfway into our first morning walk when the word spread: a rare American Avocet had been seen feeding in the Shorebird Pool by the end of the Marsh Discovery Trail.

   Most of the birders present that day got a good look at the avocet, but you know what? Birders for the next three days got to see the avocet as well, plus the other shorebirds that have been feeding on the mudflats – dowitchers, sandpipers and yellowlegs.

   One word of caution: It doesn’t necessarily work out that way. At last September’s festival a few lucky birders were able to see two rare birds fly over the DeKorte impoundments – a  Hudsonian Godwit and a Red-necked Phalarope. Alas, the birds were long gone the next day.



Photo by Jeff Nicol

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