We’re Migrating!

Hi friends! On my last post, I mentioned that Dave and I have some exciting news. Well…here it is.

We’re migrating! A one-way migration, that is.

At the end of June, Dave and I will be moving from New Jersey to New Hampshire!

Dave is graduating in May with an electrical engineering degree, and he got a job in northern Massachusetts, so we’ll be moving right over the border into southern New Hampshire. I’m so proud of him that he’s achieving his dreams, and now we are on to some new adventures.

The exciting news isn’t without a little sadness though. I’ve spent my entire life in New Jersey, and I honestly never really thought I would be leaving it. I will definitely miss being able to see family and friends whenever I want, but now we will create new memories in a different setting when we visit each other.

I’ll also miss the locations that have grown dear to us over the years birding…especially places like Haddon Lake Park, Barnegat Light, and Cape May. We’ve created so many wonderful memories since we’ve starting birding in New Jersey 5 years ago, and I get a little emotional thinking about not being able to visit these place at any time. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to start my birding life in New Jersey, where we have some of the best birding spots along the Atlantic flyway. But through the blog, I can look back at all the cool places we’ve explored.

One thing I know I won’t miss though…living in a state of 8.9 million people that borders two major cities of millions more people (lol)! These days you can never really escape traffic (unless you live in the middle of nowhere I guess), but I’m anticipating that New Hampshire traffic won’t be quite like New Jersey’s.

As much as I’ll miss the old birding locations, I’m looking forward to new birding adventures. New Hampshire is known for its natural beauty. The White Mountains, a region of the Appalachians, dominates part of the state and includes the highest peak in the northeastern US, Mt. Washington. The northern areas of the state is where the southern boreal forests of Canada meet with the northern deciduous forests. There are numerous rivers and lakes, as well as 13 miles of coastline and beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. We will also be closer to Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Canada, and it only takes about 2 1/2 hours to get to our favorite city, Newport, Rhode Island. There will be so many cool birding opportunities!

We will be heading up to New Hampshire in the month of April to check out some places to live the area. It will be my first time traveling to NH (the farthest north I’ve been on the East Coast was Boston). If you’ve been to or live New Hampshire and have any suggestions of places to check out or cool birding locations, please let me know in the comments!

New Hampshire in autumn (Image by Someone35 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D)

Bye Winter, Hello Spring!

Winter is my favorite birding season. A common misconception is that nothing is really around in winter, but that couldn’t be more wrong! You can find a large variety of species around if you know where to look. Dave and I had a great winter bird-wise.

A New Challenge

I was inspired to try the eBird 365 checklist challenge for 2019. The grand prize for three lucky eBirders is a pair of Zeiss binocular, so I figured I would go for it. Even if I don’t get the binoculars, I’m still contributing valuable data to scientists, so it’s a win-win. So far I’ve submitted 86 checklists (as of writing this there’s been 84 days in 2019), so I’m two lists ahead. Off to a good start!

Year List 2019

This is my second year keeping a year list. We recorded 81 species from January 1- March 20 2018. This year we beat that record with 85 species. We did have some interesting life list rarities this season, so I’m thinking those rarities put us ahead of last year.

Life List Additions

  • January 6: Razorbills! Seen at Sandy Hook, NJ. New Jersey had a large influx of Razorbills off the coast this year, with numbers in the thousands over a few weeks.
  • January 27: Canvasbacks at Mansquan Reservior IBA.
  • February 3: Pacific Loon at Manasquan Inlet. This is an NJ rarity.
Pacific Loon at Manasquan Inlet (Image by BirdNation)



  • February 10: Pine Siskins at Cloverdale Farm County Park.
  • February 17: Red-breasted Nuthatch at Cloverdale Farm County Park during the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Image by David Horowitz)



  • March 1: Northern Saw-whet Owl and Winter Wren at Palmyra Cove. I think the Saw-whet was my favorite 2019 life list bird so far. It was so cute!
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Image by David Horowitz)
  • March 13th: American Woodcock displays at Rancocas Nature Center.
  • March 17: Red-necked Grebe in a pond near the mall in Toms River.
Red-necked Grebe (Image by BirdNation)

Great Backyard Bird Count

For this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, we counted 52 different species (over 1,500 individuals) at 6 birding locations. We beat our 2018 count by 19 species.

2019 Great American Arctic Birding Challenge

Team BirdNation is participating again in the Great American Arctic Birding Challenge run by Alaska Audubon. In 2018 our team found 62 species on the checklist between March 1- June 1. This year, the Challenge occurs between March 15-June 1. The Challenge is open to anyone, so get a team together and start birding!

Moving forward…

Spring has already been off to a good start. Spring migrants, such as Ospreys, Tree Swallows, and American Oystercatchers have returned to New Jersey. Dave and I have very exciting news coming in the next month or so. I can’t tell you yet, but you’ll know soon enough! (And no…everyone automatically assumes kids, but that’s not the case at the moment lol). In the meantime, happy spring birding!

What was your favorite winter birding moment? Tell us about it in the comments!

Timberdoodle!

Spring is almost here, and we are certainly getting signs of the coming season in New Jersey. The weather is finally starting to warm up a bit, and I’ve been hearing American Robins start their bouncy spring songs each morning. The spring migrants are returning, and that includes a very fascinating and unique species…the Timberdoole!

Well, the Timberdoodle is its nickname (and an awfully cute one at that). I’m referring to the American Woodcock, a small bulbous shorebird that migrates through New Jersey in March.

I heard about these birds pretty early into my life as a birder, but never have had the chance to see them because…I would forget. I would be so busy in the spring that I would remember about the timberdoodle after it already passed through the area. I knew this year would be different.

Dave and I went to Rancocas Nature Center (where I’m a teacher naturalist on some weekends) to watch the display. The meadow at RNC is a great place to check out the Timberdoodle. The Timberdoodle is not just a bird you simply go to just get a sight of, the allure of this little bird is the famous “Sky Dance”.

American Woodcock (Image via Pinterest)

Timberdoodles like to spend their time in brushy fields near deciduous forests. In the cover of darkness, the male Timberdoole will give a distinct buzzy “peent!” to get the female’s attention. After a few calls, the male rockets up into the air with a flutter, soaring up and circling about 200-300 feet in the air. As the male ascends into his dazzling display you can hear his wings twitter. After reaching his peak, the male circles back down to the ground and land in the same spot next to the female. These aerial display can last into the night and take place around dawn as well. Once a pair does mate, the male provides no parental care. Males usually mate with multiple females. The female will feed the chicks for a week, and about a month later the chicks will become independent.

It was really amazing to see the American Woodcock’s sky dance. We observed at least 4 birds participating in the display. We even had a pair fly right over us! I’m so glad we had a chance to observe these magnificent birds in action.

I was able to get a short recording of the “peents” at the beginning of the display (I was too mesmerized watching to record anything after it start lol). You can hear a few peents through the wall of sound that is a bunch Spring Peeper frogs calling.

American Woodcock “peents!” with Spring Peeper background

Have you seen a Timberdoodle? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

’19 GBBC Count: Day 4

Today was the final day of the Great Backyard Bird Count. I went back to Haddon Lake Park; this time with my mom and sister. Haddon Lake Park is a GBBC tradition, so I’m glad I was able to go there twice this weekend.

Haddon Lake Park, Mt. Ephraim/Audubon, NJ (9 species, 245 individual birds)

  • 90 Canada Geese
  • 50 Mallard
  • 32 Ring-billed Gulls
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker
  • 1 American Crow
  • 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • 40 European Starling
  • 2 Song Sparrow
  • 25 Red-winged Blackbird

We had the opportunity to watch a Mallard pair demonstrating a courtship display.

We observed an interesting looking Mallard. It seems like it can be a possible hybrid. Mallard mixed with Green-winged Teal or American Wigeon? The world may never know…it was interesting nonetheless. (Let me know who you think it is…)

We had an amazing Great Backyard Bird Count weekend! We saw 19 more species than 2018 as well as about 700 more individual birds. Here are the official Team BirdNation numbers for 2019:

  • 6 birding locations
  • 1 life list bird: Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 52 different species
  • 1,505 individual birds (estimate)

Did you participate in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count? Tell me your favorite birding moment from the weekend in the comments!

To see learn what we saw on Days 3 and 4 of the 2018 GBBC (including a rare life list bird!), click here.

’19 GBBC Day 3: To the Shore

Dave and I made our way out to the Jersey Shore today for the Great Backyard Bird Count. We went birding at two locations: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on LBI and Cloverdale Farm Park in Barnegat. We added a new bird to our life list: the Red-breasted Nuthatch. I went to Cloverdale last week with my mom and sister to look for the Red-breasted Nuthatch, but we didn’t find it (however, we did see Pine Siskins, a lifer for us!)

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Barnegat Light, NJ (20 species, 461 individual birds)

  • 42 Brant
  • 3 Greater Scaup (1 male, 2 females)
  • 3 Common Eiders
  • 15 Harlequin Ducks (mostly male)
  • 30 Black Scoters
  • 45 Long-tailed Ducks
  • 10 Bufflehead
  • 13 Red-breasted Mergansers
  • 3 Ruddy Turnstones
  • 1 Sanderling
  • 85 Dunlin
  • 25 Ring-billed Gulls
  • 136 Herring Gulls
  • 26 Great Black-backed Gulls
  • 1 Red-throated Loon
  • 14 Common Loons
  • 6 Double-crested Cormorants
  • 1 Merlin
  • 1 Northern Mockingbird
  • 1 Savannah Sparrow

Bonus find: 6 Seals!

Cloverdale Farm County Park, Barnegat, NJ (16 species,45 individual birds)

  • 2 Mallards (male/female)
  • 1 Bufflehead
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 3 Carolina Chickadee
  • 3 Tufted Titmouse
  • 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1 Brown Creeper
  • 5 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Northern Mockingbird
  • 1 House Finch
  • 1 American Goldfinch
  • 16 Dark-eyed Junco
  • 2 White-throated Sparrows
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Northern Cardinal
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Image by David Horowitz)

It’s always a pleasure visiting the Jersey Shore. Tomorrow is the last day of the 2019 GBBC. Stay tuned!

’19 Great Backyard Bird Count: Day 2

Day 2 of the Great Backyard Bird Count was twice as nice because we went birding at 2 locations!

It was 45 degrees with a cold breeze; much more seasonal than yesterday’s warm weather. Our first stop was Haddon Lake Park in Audubon, NJ, followed by Palmyra Cove in Palmyra, NJ. We saw 32 species today, adding 8 new species to the total GBBC so far.

At Haddon Lake, Dave spotted some banded Mallards. I was able to get some pictures of the bands and reported them at reportband.gov. This website is run by USGS (United States Geological Survey) and the link leads to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory. We were able to learn around where the Mallard was banded, by who, and its age.

USGS Banding Information (Image by BirdNation)

Haddon Lake Park, Audubon, NJ (10 species, 188 individual birds)

  • 80 Canada Geese
  • 45 Mallards
  • 1 Mourning Dove
  • 35 Ring-billed Gulls
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 10 American Crows
  • 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 2 European Starlings
  • 12 Red-winged Blackbirds

Palmyra Cove Nature Park, Palmyra, NJ (22 species, 302 individual birds)

  • 10 Canada Geese
  • 9 Mallards
  • 17 American Black Ducks
  • 15 Green-winged Teal
  • 17 Bufflehead
  • 2 Common Merganser
  • 5 Mourning Doves
  • 147 Ring-billed Gulls
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 Belted Kingfisher
  • 2 Downy Woodpeckers
  • 1 Northern Flicker
  • 5 American Crows
  • 4 Carolina Chickadees
  • 2 Brown Creepers
  • 5 Carolina Wrens
  • 14 American Robins
  • 1 Northern Mockingbird
  • 17 Dark-eyed Juncos
  • 25 White-throated Sparrow
  • 1 Northern Cardinal

Tomorrow we are heading out to the Jersey Shore to see who we can find.

Check out what we saw last year on day 2 of the 2018 GBBC here.

What did you see on the 2nd day of the Great Backyard Bird Count? Tell us in the comments.

’19 Great Backyard Bird Count: Day 1

Today is the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count!

We had a lovely day today in New Jersey. The temperature was around 60 degrees with a slight breeze. It was the perfect weather to kick off this year’s count. Dave and I spent our first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count at Amico Island in Delanco, NJ. We’ve been to Amico Island countless times over the years, but today we took a new trail that brought us along the water’s edge. It’s always fun discovering “new” trails at familiar parks.

Amico Island (23 species, 264 individual birds)

  • 20 Canada Geese
  • 9 Mallards
  • 3 Green-winged Teals
  • 2 Hooded Mergansers (male/female pair)
  • 19 Common Mergansers
  • 2 Mourning Doves
  • 120 Ring-billed Gulls
  • 8 Herring Gulls
  • 9 Great Black-backed Gulls
  • 10 Great Blue Herons
  • 5 Downy Woodpeckers
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker
  • 3 Carolina Chickadees
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse
  • 4 White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 3 Carolina Wrens
  • 8 American Robins
  • 1 Northern Mockingbird
  • 2 European Starlings
  • 4 Dark-eyed Juncos
  • 15 White-throated Sparrows
  • 1 Red-winged Blackbird
  • 4 Northern Carindals

This year’s bird count is already off to a get start! Tomorrow we are heading over to Palmyra Cove.

Did you participate in the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count? Tell me about it in the comments.

Amico Island 2-15-19 (Image by BirdNation)