In conjunction with our latest South Bergenite column, which follows, we are asking members of the Meadowblog community to vote for their favorite Meadowlands bird of 2014. So read the column by the NJMC’s Jim Wright — and then vote!
For local nature lovers, this past year will be remembered as a year of rare and unexpected birds — so many, in fact that we at the N.J. Meadowlands Commission would like you to vote for the 2014 Meadowlands Bird of the Year.
You can credit NJMC Naturalist Mike Newhouse for the idea. “We have seen so many amazing birds this year,” he said recently. “Why don’t we have local nature lovers vote for their favorite?”
When Mike speaks, I listen.
We started going over a list of cool birds that had been seen in the past 12 months — in addition to our usual array of terrific birds – and soon realized we had our work cut out for us.
In January we had several snowy owls, a rough-legged hawk, and a Lapland longspur.
In February we had four snowy owls in DeKorte at once. March brought a yellow-headed blackbird to DeKorte.
In April, we had a yellow-throated warbler. May brought a prothonotary warbler, a cinnamon teal, a whimbrel and a ruddy turnstone.
On a DeKorte bird walk in early July, we spotted an American white pelican — that stayed into October. August brought a black-billed cuckoo, a least bittern and an American avocet to DeKorte. September brought a glossy ibis to Mill Creek Marsh.
In October, a lark sparrow hung out for several days along Disposal Road, and a brant and a marbled godwit stopped by DeKorte.
A marbled godwit and the lark sparrow were seen in November as well, and we had a another rough-legged hawk in December, too.
From those possibilities, we asked Mike Newhouse to pick a list of the top half-dozen best birds for you to choose from:
* Snowy owl: “No, these owls are not the most rare birds seen here in 2014 or any other year. What’s amazing about the Snowy Owl in 2014 was the sheer number of the birds seen.”
* Yellow-headed blackbird: “This is also rare for Bergen County and all of New Jersey.
* Yellow-throated warbler: “This rare warbler is the first known record for the Meadowlands.”
* Cinnamon teal: “An amazing record for here. It was far from its usual range, basically west of the Rockies.”
* Lark sparrow: “Another great bird for here. This rare sparrow is one of the most colorful and beautiful birds in the sparrow family.”
* Marbled godwit: “I have to throw in a shorebird here. This is only the second record in the seven years I have worked here.”
What’s your choice for bird of the year? E-mail your vote to me at Jim.email@example.com by Monday, Jan. 5 to be included in the tally. The winning bird will be announced in the South Bergenite and online on Thursday, Jan. 15.