Monthly Archives: April 2019

Sad News

Sad news to report via Jim Wright’s Celery Farm and Beyond blog. Pete Bacinski, well-known for his work with NJ Audubon for more than  25 years and his incredible inaugural World Series of Birding count, passed away last night. Pete was a Lyndhurst native and long-time Meadowlands birder. Pete’s favorite bird, the Cedar Waxwing, is pictured above. Read more on the Celery Farm and Beyond blog 

The Gatherer

Check out this Tree Swallow gathering material for its nest and a host of other wonderful photos taken at DeKorte this week by Dave McClure. Thanks Dave!

Barn Swallows
Northern Shoveler
Common Grackles
Brown-headed Cowbird

Great Egret
Great Egret

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: My Birding Apologies

A while back  a friend very excitingly sent a photo around of a Meadowlands bird that he later realized he misidentified. He felt very badly about his slipup and saw a need to apologize for it. I explained to him that there was really no need since every birder makes mistakes, only nowadays our blunders make it all over list serves, twitter, websites and Facebook just to name a few.

A wise old birder once told me that the only difference between an experienced birder and a beginner is that the expert has misidentified more birds. But my friend’s apology got me thinking. I often wonder what If I had to apologize for every bird I misidentified? What If I had to make amends for every warbler I spotted darting through the trees I was wrong about? Since I attended Catholic school growing up and got pretty use to making confessions over the years and I also retained my deep sense of guilt I thought I would just say my act of contrition now and say I am sorry for all my past, present and future birding bungles.

American Kestrel

Mourning Dove

First I should say I am sorry for all the Mourning Doves I thought were American Kestrels, in fact I probably will continue to make this mistake because I really enjoy watching Kestrels and I want to make every Dove into a Falcon. A few times I even wrongly ID’d a Kestrel as a Mourning dove. I have not decided if I need to apologize for that one.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Shrike

 I better say I am very sorry for making Northern Mockingbirds I would very much like to make into Northern Shrikes. I know Shrikes are a rarity, especially here in the Meadowlands. But If I keep thinking all the Mockingbirds are Shrikes sooner or later I am bound to be right. And now let’s see, I am not sure how many  Red-tailed hawks I thought were Rough-legged Hawks. I think Red-tails just impersonate them to throw me off, but I guess I am sorry for all those mess-ups too.

I also confess to thinking a floating bleach bottle was a Common Merganser; funny how they look the same, especially in winter. A few weeks ago I thought a stick with white paint stuck in the mud was a Black-crowned Night Heron, but when I looked in the scope it wasn’t to be, so I am sorry about that one too.

A while back we had a group misidentification. Someone looking though a spotting scope swore they had a Great Horned Owl. Two more of us expert birders looked and agreed. Yes!  A Great Horned. But a few hours later when the Owl didn’t move a feather and began to change colors we realized it was just a shadow made by the leaves in the tree. We looked in Sibley’s to see if there was a new species of Leaf Owl but no such luck, so I better say I apologize for that one also.

 I better just send out a blanket apology now for all the shorebirds in the past, present and future I have and will misidentify. They are pretty tough. I better add some of the fall warblers also and for good measure just add the spring ones to my list also. And I will save a lot of time later if I mention the Sparrows. I am sure I will mistake a Song for a Savannah somewhere along the line at the very least.

Birding above all else should be fun. If we can’t make mistakes then how can we learn? Why would they make field guides that only point out more of our mistakes if birders didn’t screw up on a regular basis?

Let’s go out into the fields and woods and enjoy ourselves. We can figure out our mistakes later, and by the way no need to apologize, I am Ok with it.

BCAS Walk at Losen Slote Creek Park on Tuesday (April 16)!

Don’t miss the next Bergen County Audubon Society Meadowlands walk, this coming Tuesday, April 16, from 10 am to noon at Losen Slote Creek Park and the Mehrhof Pond Wildlife Observation Area, both in Little Ferry.

Losen Slote is a rare remaining parcel of woodlands in the Meadowlands and the Observation Area offers great views of Mehrhof Pond. For more information contact Don Torino at or 201-230-4983.

Awesome Harrier Walk!

More than 60 people enjoyed a Bergen County Audubon Society walk through Harrier Meadow on a beautiful spring day yesterday and were treated to Ravens, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Yellow Legs, among other birds.

Don’t miss the next BCAS Meadowlands walk, on Tuesday, April 16 from 10 am to noon at Losen Slote Creek Park and the Mehrhof Pond Wildlife Observation Area, both in Little Ferry.

Losen Slote is a rare remaining parcel of woodlands in the Meadowlands and the Observation Area offers great views of Mehrhof Pond. For more information contact Don Torino at or 201-230-4983.

NJSEA and the Tree Swallows Thank the BCAS!!

A huge thank you to the Bergen County Audubon Society who this morning donated 20 nesting boxes to the NJSEA to be used around the Meadowlands for the spring migrants! Pictured is BCAS President Don Torino and NJSEA Naturalist Aleshanee Mooney. The tree swallows love the boxes so much they don’t even wait for them to be installed before claiming their new homes. Check out the past photo below!

A Great Array!

Greater Yellowlegs

Dave McClure was kind enough to share these awesome photos he took this week. The Greater Yellowlegs was taken at Mill Creek Marsh, the rest at DeKorte Park. Thanks Dave!

Greater Yellowlegs
Black-capped Chickadee
Mourning Dove

Reminder: BCAS Harrier Meadow Walk This Sunday (April 7)!

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society this Sunday, April 7, for a special guided walk of Harrier Meadow, a beautiful natural area usually closed to the public. They’ll be looking for spring migrants, ducks and more.

The walk goes from 10 am to noon and meets at the gate to Harrier Meadow off Disposal Road, North Arlington. For more information, contact Don Torino at or 201-230-4983.