Jim Wright, who maintains this blog, write a twice-monthly nature column for The South Bergenite. Here's his latest:
After a long, wet and brutal winter, now’s a good time to get outdoors and look for an uncommon bird with a deceptive name – the so-called common raven.
The best place to see these huge black birds in the Meadowlands is in Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus, not far from the Secaucus Junction Train Station. A pair has been nesting there each spring for several years.
When I did a scouting trip last week for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s free nature walk at Laurel Hill this Sunday, I saw one of the ravens perched next to the nest — a very encouraging sign.
Typically, common ravens in the Northeast lay several eggs in late March and early April, with an incubation of 20 to 25 days. After the young ravens are a few weeks old, you might see a little head peering out from the nest if you are lucky.
The young typically leave the nest five to seven weeks after they hatch, but they often stay close to the nest, so the raven show at Laurel Hill should be good for the next three months at least.
Sunday’s walk, co-sponsored by the Bergen County Audubon Society, will include some high-powered telescopes known as spotting scopes so that walk participants can get some excellent looks at the ravens.
The ravens also can be seen sometimes flying near DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst and other Meadowlands locales.
The change of the season will bring other changes to the bird population as well. The great cormorants that have been perching on the nearby Hackensack River Swing Bridge are moving on, and the slightly smaller double-crested cormorants will be arriving in large numbers.
Other popular Meadowlands birds — including the red-winged blackbird and the killdeer, have arrived already this spring. Ospreys, great egrets and tree swallows should start arriving any day now. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see some of these wonderful birds on our walk this Sunday.
The special two-hour walk begins at 10 a.m. in the big parking lot by the Laurel Hill ball fields, which provides nice views of the ravens’ nest. If you are unsure of how to get to Laurel Hill, you can meet up with one of the walk’s leaders at the first parking lot in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst at 9:20 a.m. and follow them.
The walk is run by the N.J. Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release for this event. To rsvp, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-636-4022.
Want to improve your birding skills? The NJMC and the BCAS are offering free two-hour “Birding for Beginners” classes on Sundays April 3, April 10 and April 17 at 1 p.m. in the Meadowlands Environment Center. Check meadowblog.net for details.