Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Time for Birding New Year Resolutions 2016


Having failed miserably in my past efforts at New Year’s Resolutions such as attempting to keep my car cleaner and get my birding books more organized, I hesitate to try to come up with any other attempts to change any of my old habits or ideas in 2016.

After all when you reach my age you are pretty much set in your ways. My car, which is really my BCAS mobile office, just seems to get more cluttered with binoculars, field guides, old coffee cups, garden tools and unidentified food wrappers of various kinds. My trunk is so deep in strange artifacts that only Indiana Jones would be brave enough to venture too far into it at this point.

Even an attempt in years past by a well-meaning and brave volunteer group of friends at organizing the disaster area in my trunk was doomed to failure. Never the less this is the time of year that society has decided for one reason or another that all of us force ourselves to commit to some kind of self-improvement agreement. So far be it from me to stray from tradition but this time I thought I would ask some friends for their Birding resolutions for the New Year and see if they will be more successful than me.

Jill Benetta from Flat Rock Brook Nature Center had a great idea for the New Year: “Stop being so lazy, and get out and bird!!” Well said, Jill. People often ask me how they can see owls in the wild. I have one sure way not to see owls. It’s called sitting on your couch!

Michael Limatola, Fyke President and Celery Farm Marsh Warden, told me: “I will not buy any more optics in 2016!!!” Sorry to tell you Mike, that one is doomed to failure. Take it from me.

Good friend Regina Coyle had an idea that we should be contemplating through the winter Months: “Update my garden plants to be more bird friendly for food and shelter.”

And continuing that same idea, friend Sheryle Robert told me: “I would like to get my backyard certified as a wildlife habitat! I am hoping to make that happen this year!” John Mitchell was a little simpler but no less challenging: “Figuring out how best to attract birds to my terrace birdhouse.”

Some birders have those special birds they would love to add to their life lists in 2016. Jill Homcy had only three simple words in her New Year’s Resolution: “Gyrfalcon, gyrfalcon, gyrfalcon.” I am glad she is not obsessed in any way.

Other birders want to top their own past records, like Ivan Kossak: “I am currently at 127 species for Lincoln Park in 2015. I hope to exceed that for 2016 (maybe 140?) but, most importantly, to start a town wide effort to find as many birds as possible. I hope this will increase awareness of local birdlife and will also increase desire to preserve open spaces.” Sounds like a noble idea to me.

Other birders want to widen their birding horizons. Bergen Audubon Field work Chairperson David H. Hall: “Add a new continent to my list of birding hotspots.” Go for it Dave! Leslie Kruegel told me: “My resolution (for a few years now, haven’t made it yet) is to go see the crane migration in Nebraska! Maybe this year I’ll make it!” I say Go for it!

Alexa Marques Executive director at Teaneck Creek Conservancy would like to remember to appreciate the common birds a little more: “I get caught up in seeing new birds and ones I don’t often see that I forget how wonderful it can be to see a starling shimmer in the light or how red a cardinal can actually be!” Very nice Alexa.

Beth Goldberg has a wonderful resolution for the New Year: “Slowly but surely I have been introducing family to the joy of birding. Hope to move on to the youngest generation in 2016.” We should all be making that commitment for this coming year, and Randal Sokolik has a simple yet beautiful idea for 2016: “Feed birds out of my hand like chickadee or hummer.” Very nice. A little patience and it will happen.

I do have some other more thoughtful resolutions that I try to remember each and every year that truly will make me a better birder.

I will always try to remember to thank my good friends that take the time to go out birding with me, letting the people know that work so hard to protect our environment every day how much I appreciate all their hard work, and to never to let a bird go by me without appreciating their beauty at least for a second.

As we begin the New Year, it is my hope that we can find some way to use our love of birding and nature to bring a little gentleness and peace to our community and the people around us in 2016. I guess that always will be my real resolution for all the new years to come.

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