Winter Birdwatching in New Jersey
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Winter Birdwatching in New Jersey



A presentation from librarian and amateur birdwatcher Matt Latham on finding wild birds in New Jersey during the winter months. Includes what species you can find, where/when to look for them and how ...

A presentation from librarian and amateur birdwatcher Matt Latham on finding wild birds in New Jersey during the winter months. Includes what species you can find, where/when to look for them and how to find them.



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Winter Birdwatching in New Jersey Winter Birdwatching in New Jersey Presentation Transcript

  • P R E S E N T A T I O N B YM A T T L A T H A MWinter Birdwatching in NewJersey
  • Skills of Identification 1) Physical appearance Plumage Size Shape Variability sometimes betweensexes, ages and subspecies 2) Voice Calls Songs 3) Range Preferred habitats Geographic range of a species 4) Behaviors – immediate Flight Hunting (food type) Breeding Idiosyncrasies 5) Behaviors - larger Migration Breeding Nesting Nocturnal, diurnal and/orcrepuscular
  • Physical Appearance Things to study: Overall Shape Overall Size Colors Tail, underside, topside, head, beak, legs, wings (top andbottom), patterns, variations Feather layout Wing shape Tail size Head size Beginner Tools Study silhouettes - Study bird parts Relative to major families Field guides often providethese tools (Sibley Guide)
  • Physical Appearance 2Variations Using Plumage Plumage CAN vary by gender, age, subspecies, moltingand conditions Conditions meaning wear and tear on the feathers due toweather, life conditions, etc. Molt variation – during, before, after, different stages of molting Size difference Individual birds simply have variation That‟s why plates are often better for studying than photographs
  • Voice Songs Mating rituals General communication Calls Position Warning Flight calls Basic communication1) Recognition of voice can help distinguish similar speciesexample – Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs Identify birds not in sight
  • The Alarm of the Forest Blue Jay example The Blue Jay is prone to making an alarm call when there areany intruders, predators or most any movement in their area.Thus, they are often known as the Alarm of the Forest, as theylet all other animals know of an intruder presence.
  • Range Deals with the geographicrange in which species cannormally occur Where birdsbreed, nest, winter andover what area theymigrate Includes large areas ofhabitat that birds will use Important in helping tolocate birds first Also, very helpful inmaking an identification A tricky ID may be solved if apossibility for the ID wouldbe very far out of range andhabitat
  • Migration Why? Flying north for thesummer Less competition forresources Less predators Flying south for thewinter Escape harshweather, loss offood, resources
  • Immediate Behaviors Flying Gliding vs flapping Smooth vs erratic Bobbing up and down Goldfinch Breeding Calls Movements Prominence Positioning Ex: Perched on display Idiosyncratic behaviors Specific to individual species orfamilies Diurnal vs Nocturnal Nesting Type of nest Location of nest Ground, tree, etc. Materials used Hunting Hovering Perched chasing Mobbing Some species prone to thisbehavior Crows, Jays, Red-wingedBlackbirds
  • Long-term Behaviors Migration habits Distance traveled All at once / in intervals Follow ridge tops / coasts Travel by night or day Breeding, Nesting andWintering habits Diurnal vs Nocturnal Pair for life vs otherbreeding habits Mute Swan vs. Red-winged Blackbird
  • Habitat Knowing the preferredhabitat for a species canbe one of the best ways tolocate AND identify birds Often, identifying a birdcan rely on whether thatspecies belongs in acertain habitat Some species are veryadaptable to a variety ofhabitats Some require a veryspecific habitat Canada Goose vs. BankSwallow
  • Major Types of Habitats In the North America Forest Boreal Riparian Woodland Mixed Deciduous Northern Hardwood Wetlands Freshwater Marshes Saltmarshes and Tidal Flats Lakes and Ponds Rivers and Streams Ocean Upwelling Coastal Dunes, shoreline, bays, estuaries, etc. Estuary Mangrove Grasslands Few remaining areas in NJ Edge Habitat Successional Stages of growth betweenforest and plains Shrub land important habitat Area between 2 differenthabitats – transitioning Agricultural Human related Cities Urban parks Parking lots Killdeer Many more… Garbage dumps
  • The A.O.U. Check-list of North AmericanBirds, Seventh Edition American Ornithologists‟ Union Previously classified by visual and behavioralsimilarity Now mostly derived from genetic connections -
  • My Bird Groupings -Northeastern America Waterfowl Ducks, geese, swans, loonsand grebes Hawks and Allies Hawks, Falcons, Eagles, Vultures and Osprey Shore / oceanic Gulls, terns, shearwates, petrals, pelicans, gannets, brandt, sandpipers, etc. Owls Songbirds – WarblersForest dwelling Flycatchers, Jays, woodpeckers, tanagers Field dwelling / grassland Sparrows, finches, larks, buntings Marsh dwelling Herons, ibis, sandpipers, coot, egret Easy to remember Mostly black colored Crow, raven, blackbirds, cowbirds, starling, grackle, catbirds Everything else
  • Know the Local Common Species American Robin Northern Cardinal Black-capped Chickadee Tufted Titmouse Cedar Waxwing Gray Catbird Brown-headed Cowbird American Crow Turkey Vulture Red-tailed Hawk Great Blue Heron Mallard Canada Goose
  • Invasive, Non-Native Species Invasive, non-native species can take habitat fromother native species, occupy niches that push otherbirds out, and even steal nests. House Sparrow European Starling Mute Swan Rock Dove (pigeon)
  • Winter NJ Birding Where to go: coast, lakes, openwater, grasslands, and sometimes edge and forests What to see: waterfowl, sea birds, finches, owls andwintering hawks, snow geese, larks, etc. Things to remember: you are looking for either WINTERING birds or YEARROUND RESIDENTS At the beginning and end of winter, you can catch early/latemigrants (spring/fall)
  • Types of Habitats Good for birding in winter Unique wintering bird NJ habitats: Ocean Shore Lakes and Rivers Grasslands *Edge Can still find birds in every habitat type **Bird feeders
  • What Birds to See in Which Habitat Ducks, Geese, and related species Lakes, Shore, Ocean, rivers Sparrows, larks, buntings Grasslands, Edge habitat Wintering Hawks and Owls Edge, open fields, forests
  • Year Round Residents Northern Cardinal Blue Jay Black-capped Chickadee American Crow Mallard Great Blue Heron Red-tailed Hawk Canada Geese Cedar Waxwing American Robin Eastern Bluebird White-breasted Nuthatch Brown Creeper Woodpeckers Herring Gull And a few others…
  • Waterfowl – great time of year Many species Winter in New Jersey Southern Migration: September early, November peak Northern Migration February and March
  • Ducks and Allies to Look For Green-winged Teal Common Merganser Mallard Northern Pintail Bufflehead American Wigeon Gadwall American Black Duck Northern Shoveler Long-tailed Duck Red-head Harlequin Duck Canvasback Lesser and Greater Scaup White-winged and other Scoters Ruddy Duck Common Goldeneye Ruddy Duck Hooded Merganser Red-breasted Merganser Ring-necked Duck Common Eider King Eider
  • More Waterfowl Common Loon Red-throated Loon Brandt Snow Goose Northern Gannet Pied-billed Grebe Horned Grebe Red-necked Grebe
  • Other Species Finches Sparrows Wintering Hawks Red-tailed, Harriers, Rough-legged, Sharp-shined, Cooper‟s, Owls Snowy, Short-Eared, Barred, Screech, Saw-whet, Great Horned
  • Common, Hooded, and Red-breasted Merganser
  • Mallard and American Black Duck
  • Northern Pintail and Long-tailed Duck
  • Gadwall and American Wigeon
  • Green-winged Teal and Wood Duck
  • Northern Shoveler and Harlequin Duck
  • Common and King Eider
  • White-winged and Black Scoter
  • Canvasback and Redhead
  • Ring-necked Duck and Lesser Scaup
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Northern Gannet
  • Common and Red-throated Loon
  • Grebes – Pied-billed, Horned, Red-necked, Eared
  • Brandt and Snow Goose
  • Grassland and Shrub Birds Horned Lark Snow Bunting Swamp Sparrow …Sparrow
  • Snow Bunting
  • Horned Lark
  • Owls and Wintering Hawks + Allies Great-horned Owl Short-eared Owl Snowy Owl Barn Owl Long-eared Owl Barred Owl Eastern-Screech Owl Northern Saw-whet Owl Red-tailed Hawk Rough-legged Hawk Sharp-shinned Hawk Cooper‟s Hawk Northern Goshawk Northern Harrier Red-shouldered Hawk American Kestrel Peregrine Falcon Bald Eagle
  • Snowy and Great Horned Owl
  • Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk
  • My Favorite Winter Locations in New Jersey Meadowlands Round Valley Merrill Creek Swartswood Lake / Culver‟s Lake Liberty State Park Shark River Inlet Cape May Various points along the shore Liberty Loop Layton/Walpack
  • Meadowlands(Dekorte Park/Sawmill Creek)
  • Meadowlands (Dekorte/Sawmill Creek) What to see: A dozen species of duck Wintering hawks Rough-legged, Harrier,Red-tailed Sparrows and allies Random rare birds Eurasian Green-wingedTeal Possible Snowy Owl In spring/fall/summer =tons of wading and shorebirds too Description: Mudflats, largemarsh, open water, reedmarsh, some scrub andtree area Great in many seasons Best place in Hudsoncounty *American Woodcock
  • Meadowlands Drive to Dekorte Park – park near the MeadowlandsCommission building and the observatory Walk along the water facing the highway – same side asMeadowlands commission Teal, mallards, ring-necks Scan the open water near the building and then in thenext „pool‟ on the left Often mudflat in spring/summer – some of the best duck birding Continue and scan the pool to the right and then moveonto the 2 big pool areas More great duck birding / deeper water Spotting scope suggested
  • Liberty State Park
  • Liberty State Park What to see Ducks Wintering Raptors Some ocean birds *Snowy Owl Description Field, edge, riverfront, meadows, some marsh Good for some ducks andocean birds Recent years have hosteda wintering snowy owlalong with theMeadowlands
  • Round Valley
  • Round Valley Begin walk at entrybeach Walk around thepeninsula hugging thewater toward theswimming area Scan water withbinoculars Spotting scoperecommended
  • Round Valley Hunterdon County Description: Deep, in-land lake (reservoir) Good habitat fordabbling and divingducks One of few inland placesto see ducks that requiredeep water Long-tailed Duck, Scoters,Eiders (rare) What to look for: Ducks Long-tailedDuck, Scoters, Eiders, Grebes, Loons Gulls
  • Spruce Run
  • Spruce Run Hunterdon County Description: Wandering glacier lake Forest and some openfields Drive around lake andstop at most pointswhere you can get a goodlook at the water Spotting scope suggested What to see: Common Loon Pied-pilled Grebe Possible other Grebes Variety of wintering andmigratory ducks until Summer/Spring/Fall Marsh/shore birds Vireo/flycatchers warblers
  • Swartswood Lake
  • Swartswood Lake
  • Swartswood Lake Sussex County Description: Glacial lake surrounded bywoodland, and some marsh 3 bodies of water: Swartswood Lake, LittleSwartswood Lake, Duck Pond Recreation, park, swimming, beach areas Ideal inland lake spot for migrating waterfowl
  • Swartswood Lake What to See: A dozen species of duck / mostly inland ducks Loons and grebes Colony of Cormorants on island Bald Eagle nest on Little Swartswood Forest birds Bluebird resident population Some field birds
  • Swartswood Lake Main Waterfowl to see: Redhead Mallard Bufflehead Common Merganser Hooded Merganser Green-winged Teal Ring-necked Duck American Wigeon Common Goldeneye Pied-billed Grebe Possibilities: Horned Grebe Common Loon Long-tailed Duck Common Eider
  • Merrill Creek
  • Merrill Creek Warren County NJ Description: large lake with surrounding woods andsome scrub area What to see: Snow Geese, ducks, sparrows Good site for seeing many different inland duckspecies during migration. Excellent place to see migrating Snow Geese flocks Also the site of a Hawk Watch
  • Manasquan / Shark River Inlet Monmouth County Description: Large area in several towns surroundingthe estuary Large estuary Shoreline Ponds and small lakes Marshes Fields
  • Manasquan / Shark River Inlet Usually open water, even in middle of winter What to see: ducks, loons, grebes (Red-neckedGrebe), Purple Sandpipers, Gannets, Gulls, + lotsmore Overall great place to go – lots to look at Suggested: car birding (especially inwinter), scope, warm clothes, map
  • Shark River Inlet
  • Shark River Inlet
  • Liberty Loop/Wallkill River NationalWildlife Refuge
  • Liberty Loop Northern Sussex County Description: largemarshlands, wetlands, riparian, and scrub areasurrounded by forest What to see: when not frozen – ducks, sandpipers.Also, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk Short-eared Owl, sparrows Excellent place overall any time of year. One of onlyplaces good for Rough-legged Hawk in NJ Walk the loop (2 miles)
  • Alpha Grasslands
  • Alpha Grasslands Warren County NJ Description: one of only “grassland” type habitats inthe state Good for Larks, buntings, and other grasslandspecies Farmland alongside a road –simply park along roadand wander up and down road – don‟t go on grass asits private property
  • Brigantine
  • Brigantine Atlantic County Description: Huge tidal marsh and shoreline wetland What to see: when not frozen, huge #s ofshorebirds, sandpipers, and allies Also, wintering hawks, sparrows, winteringshorebirds $5 donation – drive your car around the several mileloop, pulling over to get out and scan Scope necessary
  • Cape May
  • Cape May Cape May County Description: best place to birdwatch in NJ, possiblein North America Perfect location for nearly all migrants Lots of different habitats –shoreline, wetlands, riparian, fields, scrubs, sanddune forest, etc. In Winter: rare wintering birds, hawks, grasslandspecies, ducks, shorebirds, ocean birds, etc.
  • Good Books Peterson‟s Guide Sibley‟s Guide Bird Finding in New Jersey Stokes Audio Field Guide
  • Bird Watching Clubs and Environmental Centers Sussex County Bird Club Cape May Bird Observatory Great Swamp Sandy Hook Essex County Environmental Center Tenafly Nature Center Sherman-Hoffman
  • Online Resources Online Guides / GeneralInfo AllAboutBirds – online guidefrom Cornell Labs eNature – guide to manyanimals, plants Weather / Predictions Woodcreeper blog - Birding forecast blog, Cape May Bird - Informative / Reports /Sightings Voice of NJ Audubon Birdingonthenet Jerseybirds Sussex County bird club Rare Bird Alert (online ANDHotline) Meadowlands CommissionBlog - Delaware Valley - eBird
  • Events Linked with Birdwatching Christmas Bird Count World Series of Birding Great Backyard Bird Count Pelagics ABA Big Day
  • Local and NJ Events Pelagics Bird walks Nature Conservancy NJ Audubon Great Swamp Sherman-Hoffman Sussex County Bird Club Meadowlands Commission
  • Birdwatching Groups National Organizations Audubon Society NJ Chapter American BirdingAssociation Local Sussex County Bird Club Friends of the GreatSwamp Scherman-Hoffman