Monthly Archives: October 2020

BCAS Walk at Losen Slote Creek Park Next Tuesday (Oct. 20)

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society next Tuesday (Oct. 20) as they lead a walk through Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry, one of the last lowland forests in the Meadowlands. The walk goes from 9 to 11 a.m.

Check out BCAS President Don Torino’s recent column on the wonders of Losen Slote here

Contact: Don Torino at or 201-230-4983.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Bergen County Audubon – Harold Feinberg Conservation Award Winners 2020

As Bergen County Audubon President I couldn’t be more proud to announce our 2020 Conservation Award winners. These two amazing women have dedicated themselves to protecting and preserving our environment and have created a better place not only for wildlife but also a healthier planet for all of us to live.

Alexa Fantacone 

Alexa has been the Executive Director of Teaneck Creek Conservancy for the past five years. Within this role, and in her personal life, she is committed to conservation and inspiring others to protect our environment.

She is a mentor and enthusiastic educator of students who visit Teaneck Creek. Alexa makes environmental education exciting and captivates students with hands-on programs that engage them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning, water quality testing, invasive species removal and more. She goes out of her way to make personal connections with students and learn about their passions. Alexa gives students a new passion for the natural world and many express an interest in pursuing careers in conservation, environmental science and STEM. She is particularly inspiring to young girls who come to see science as an exciting career option for women.

Alexa is also the Chairwoman for the Nature Program Cooperative, where she works to bring together the knowledge and resources of nature centers, parks, and environmental educators in Northern New Jersey. In addition, she recently became a board member at EarthShare, a national conservation organization which connects environmental nonprofits with companies in order to increase the impact of donations and volunteer actions. During her free time Alexa volunteers at Tenafly Nature Center’s aviary, feeding the raptors. 

Nancy Slowik

Nancy serves as Urban Naturalist Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden. She also acts as lead consultant for the Restore Native Plants team, directing the propagation facility at the Ramapo Mountain Park Preserve since 2013. In that capacity, Nancy provides guidance for native plant propagation and restoration projects. She formulates planting patterns to attract wildlife and enhance biodiversity. Nancy has been teaching natural history programs and leading guided walks in Bergen County and the greater metropolitan area for 35 years and is the author of A Naturalist’s Guide to the Southern Palisades (2006).

Many BCAS members may know Nancy as Naturalist/Director of Greenbrook Sanctuary where she taught and mentored for more than 25 years. Her contribution as a conservation educator and her stewardship of the Sanctuary established her reputation as a dedicated protector of the environment of the southern Palisades. Nancy’s tenure at Greenbrook helped foster many collegial relationships with local naturalists and cooperative programs, working with Bergen Swan, Stateline Hawkwatch, and training for the TCC Weed Warriors.

She has been a research associate for Hudsonia Field Station, where she has contributed to biodiversity assessments and research projects.  Nancy was the co-founder of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center – the first native plant propagation program for the New York City Parks Department.

Scenes from Mill Creek Marsh

Blackpoll Warlber

Many thanks to Joe Koscielny for sharing these wonderful photos taken during this past Sunday’s Bergen County Audubon Society walk at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus. We’ll have more from Joe this afternoon!

Shy Ring-billed Gull
Deer Taking a Swim
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Harrier

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Help Restore Biodiversity In Your Community

Brown Thrasher

Just the other day political leaders from 64 countries participating in the United Nations Biodiversity Summit signed a pledge that they say recognizes the scale of the destruction currently being wrought on the natural world and to try to reverse the biodiversity loss over the next 10 years.

“We are in a state of planetary emergency,” the leaders said. “The interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change requires immediate global action.”

Most people tend to think of the dramatic decline of species like the African Lion or Leopard as a symbol of the decline of wildlife and diversity – and well they are. But we overlook that the same dramatic decline is happening right here at home and in our own neighborhood to the birds, pollinators and native plants that evolved here for eons.

“Why don’t I see the birds and butterflies like I do when I was a kid?” is how the conversation usually starts

Luna Moth Credit – Luanne O’Hanlon

The loss of diversity is a very insidious problem. It seems that when you finally look around you realize that the familiar birds, bees and plants you once knew and enjoyed no longer exist. So Where did the lightning bugs, Luna Moths, Brown Thrashers, frogs and toads all go? And what the heck happened?

Over development, pesticides, gardening practices, the introduction of invasive plants, climate change and nature disconnect are among the many reasons life as we knew it has declined so dramatically. At some point we failed to come to the realization that we as the human species also need nature to survive and that our backyards, parks, commercial businesses, schools, and churches are all connected to the wildlife and wild places that still exist and are fighting to survive.

Growing up in the Meadowlands I have witnessed some of the worst things that could happen to the environment. But at the same time I have been privileged to see how a place like the Meadowlands, once left for dead, can come back to one of the most diverse wildlife habitats in the State, a true testament to what can be accomplished when people care.

The good news is that we can also turn all this around and begin to bring back the birds, bees, wildlife and biodiversity that were once part of our everyday lives.


Here are a few ways that we can start on the road back:

  • Work with your elected officials in your town and county to preserve and protect the natural places we have left. By the time you see the bulldozers it is too late. Is there a patch of woods you like in your neighborhood that is privately owned? Call your mayor and ask how you can help save it for future generations.
  • Landscape with native plants. Our introduction to non-native plants has been a major cause of the decline of biodiversity in our region. Native plants are the foundation of a truly healthy habitat and our pollinators, butterflies and birds cannot survive without them. And now the native plants themselves have become endangered. Tell your landscaper Go Native or Go Home!
  • Change the way we envision our parks, playgrounds and athletics fields. Why not create pollinator and butterfly gardens around the edges and perimeters of playgrounds, tennis courts and even dog parks? This would greatly add much-needed habitat and at the same time bring more enjoyment to the folks using those facilities.
  • Help local schools create outdoor classroom habitats. Every school should have a wildlife garden. To me this is a no-brainer. From improving students’ learning abilities to better mental and physical health, outdoor classrooms should be the wave of the future.
  • Before any new building project in any town is approved it should be mandated that they are not allowed the typical big corporate lawns and use native plants for their landscaping. This would greatly improve local wildlife numbers and make a much healthier place for all of us. And let’s not forget bird-safe glass!
  • Create wildlife gardens at home! Backyard habitats help connect migratory bird routes by creating much needed stepping stones, resting spots, nesting areas and wintering grounds. They will also help restore pollinator and butterfly numbers and create a healthier and happier lifestyle for the homeowners.
  • Go organic! Do away with all the pesticides and insecticides. The damage these chemicals do to the entire food chain can be devastating and they are not good for you either.
  • Put some nest boxes up in your yard. Nesting places are at a premium in New Jersey. You can help your wrens, chickadees and Screech Owls find a place to raise their young to bring forth the next generation just by placing a few around your yard.
  • Put in a backyard pond. Remember all those ponds and streams you played in as a kid that are gone? Putting in a water source in the backyard will give migratory birds a place to stop and drink. It will create an entirely new, much needed microhabitat that you can enjoy right from your window.

Doing all of these things will certainly help turn the tide but they will be for naught if we don’t work together to fight climate change. In the end helping our wildlife and the environment is about saving it for future generations. It is not only about saving our birds and butterflies: It’s about saving ourselves as well.

See you in the Meadowlands