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My Column: Meadowlands Birding Festival

Ron Shields Great Egret 207A9509 (1)
Photo by Ron Shields

My latest column for The Record is about the Meadowlands Birding Festival. Alas, I couldn't fit all the info into a 500-word column. Here goes:
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is bringing a female Eastern Screech Owl, a male American Kestrel, and a female Red-tailed Hawk.
Giselle Smisko of the Avian Wildlife Center will likely bring a Red-tailed hawk, maybe the American goshawk, and a Saw-whet Owl...
NJSEA has several short presentations. Terry Doss, Co-Director of the NJSEA's Meadowlands Research & Restoration Institute will provide a very brief intro, and then Mike Turso (Wildlife Biologist), Aleshanee Mooney (Ecologist) and Drew McQuade (Senior Biologist) will provide very brief updates on a number of recent studies (saltmarsh sparrow survey, floating islands for least terms, osprey nesting, bird banding recent results). Cailin O’Connor Fitzpatrick (Lecturer at Kean University) will provide an update on the MOTUS tower study. 
You can read the column here:

By Jim WrightTheRecordBergenEdition_20230928_LF03_0-page-001

Special to The Record | USA TODAY NETWORK - NEW JERSEY  

   Bergen County Audubon Society is hosting its seventh annual Meadowlands Festival of Birding on Sunday at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst – and it's free.  

   The all-day event includes live raptor shows, children's activities, live music and guided walks at some of the best birding spots in the region.

    "My favorite thing about the festival is seeing people that see the Meadowlands for the very first time," says BCAS president Don Torino. "They are always in awe and cannot believe that such a wonderful place exists so close to home."

    Why hold the event in early October? "It's a great time to witness the wonders of migration time in the Meadowlands," according to Torino. "Shorebirds, herons and egrets, raptors and more will be coming through this important stopover point. You never know what you might see."

   The festival includes live raptor shows by Flat Rock Brook Nature Center and the Avian Wildlife Center, as well as guided walks in my favorite spots in the Meadowlands, Harrier Meadow (complete with a bird-banding demonstration), the Saw Mill Trail and Marsh Discovery Trail in DeKorte Park, and Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus. 

   For the first time, the event will feature a "birdability" event at DeKorte Park's Marsh Discovery Trail. The wheelchair-accessible boardwalk goes a half-mile through a tidal impoundment and typically offers exceptional views of herons, egrets, and a variety of ducks.

   "We're very excited about the birdability event," says Torino. "Anyone can come out, no matter their ability, and just gather along the water and enjoy the birds together. There's no walking involved, just birds!" 

  The event will also feature a talk by Jill Deppe of the National Audubon Society. She'll tell all about the Bird Migration Explorer, a free interactive website that allows users to learn about their local migratory birds.

    "Animal migration is one of the most fascinating natural phenomena in the world," says Deppe. "Most of the bird species that breed in North Jersey are migratory. As fall progresses, many species we've been seeing in our local parks and backyards will migrate to their winter destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean." 

    Deppe will also talk about barometric geolocators, a new tracking device placed on birds that records barometric pressure daily. 

    "This is a really exciting technological advancement because it allows us to tag smaller birds at a finer spatial and temporal resolution than previously possible," Deppe says. "It will enable researchers to track smaller birders more accurately throughout migration."

     The NJSEA, a co-sponsor of the festival, will present a report on Meadowlands bird research and data from its bird banding project.

     I'll top off the talks with a sneak preview of my new book, The Screech Owl Companion from Timber Press. 

   For a complete schedule, go to


The Bird Watcher column appears every other Thursday. Email Jim at [email protected].