Meadowlands Birding Festival A Great Success!

We’re thrilled to report that Saturday’s Meadowlands Birding Festival was a huge success!

More than 500 people of all ages visited DeKorte Park throughout the day, participating in bird walks, watching a live raptor demonstration, attending a talk by keynote speaker David Sibley and taking part in kid’s activities.

The birds were out in full force. The very first walk of the day, at Harrier Meadow, yielded 35 species. We’ll have photos from throughout the day later on. Below is a recap of the Harrier Meadow walk and Species Count by the NJSEA’s Drew McQuade.

Harrier Meadow Walk Recap



75F, clear, calm

People began to arrive a few minutes before the scheduled start time of the walk, which was to be the first of the day.  Quickly a group of roughly 30 people assembled as the day’s first bird, a Peregrine Falcon, flew overhead.   Don Torino of Bergan County Audubon made some brief opening remarks, welcoming those assembled to the Meadowlands.  I followed his comments with a very brief history of the site’s enhancement, and then we took off into the site.

The first bird of note within the site was a young Bald Eagle perched in a tree in the first impoundment.  The eagle took off as a Belted Kingfisher hopped into the tree letting loose a series of raucous calls.  This would be the first of many kingfishers seen at the festival.

As we made our way down the first section of trail, the species began to trickle in.  My first Palm Warblers of the fall were seen hopping amongst the shrubs, and some House Finches were chattering in the trees.  At the first corner, where one gets a first good look over the Saw Mill Creek mudflats, a good number of Laughing Gulls were spotted.  A small flock of Semi-palmated Sandpipers were feeding on the recently exposed mud.

We finished the first half of the walk without anything too exciting on the list, but as we turned around and started to make our way out, our luck started to change.

At the end of the trail a Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen flying overhead.  As that was seen, a Northern Waterthrush hopped out of the bushes and gave people brief, but good looks.  A Pied-billed Grebe was spotted by a perplexed rookie birder, who was delighted when a more experienced member made the ID.

The grebe was seen by the whole group, although it rarely stayed above water for more than a few seconds at a time. As the group was watching the grebe, we heard Bobolink calling as they flew overhead.

The group splintered into a few sections as a call came in from a straggler that a White-rumped Sandpiper and a Least Sandpiper had joined group of sandpipers we had seen before. As we were making our way down there, we stopped to check out some warblers popping around a cedar tree.

One of the warblers ended up being the first of three Cape May Warblers for the walk. This was a beautiful adult male, and in my opinion it was the bird of the day.  The group reconvened on the Cape May, and then made our way down and got the White-rumped Sandpiper.  An American Kestrel and a Cooper’s Hawk made appearances to round out the walk.

I ended up with 35 species for the walk on my way to 52 for the day.  Not my most diverse day in the Meadowlands, but a lot of good birds were around.

Species Count
Blue-winged Teal 2
Mallard 4
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Mourning Dove 6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2
Least Sandpiper 1
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 12
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Laughing Gull 12
Ring-billed Gull 2
Herring Gull 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 2
Snowy Egret 6
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Blue Jay 4
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 10
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 2
Swamp Sparrow 1
Bobolink 4
Northern Waterthrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Cape May Warbler 3
Yellow Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 2






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