Friday, June 29, 2012

New Jersey Backyard Birds

We became birders when we moved to New Jersey. At first it was the red-bellied woodpecker, a somewhat common bird, that intrigued us with its brilliant red-head (and just a little red on the belly). They come to the suet feeders frequently but also eat jelly, oranges, peanuts and other bird seed. The goldfinches, the state bird of New Jersey, are brilliant yellow in the spring and summer. They are easily attracted with nyjer feeders.  After a while, we saw some less common birds, including ovenbirds and catbirds, some of Chris' favorites. Mike likes the tufted titmice because of their "eye makeup" and he developed a relationship with them by feeding them peanuts on the deck railing.

It was always fun to see the migrating birds as well-- the warblers in the spring and the junco all winter. We always looked forward to the orioles returning in the spring.

We moved to New Jersey in 2006 and moved backed to California in 2012. This blog chronicles our becoming amateur birders after moving to a house on a lake in Piscataway, NJ.
If you like this blog, you can follow our California birding at California Birds.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse American Goldfinch
Tufted Titmouse American Goldfinch, The New Jersey State Bird
Dark-eyed Junco Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco Chickadee
Northern Cardinal at the bird bath White-breasted Nuthatch

Northern Cardinal White-breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker Blue Jay

Downy Woodpecker Blue Jay
Robin Gray Catbird

Robin Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing Baltimore Oriole

Cedar Waxwing Baltimore Oriole
Ovenbird in the garden Black and White Warbler

Oven Bird Black and White Warbler
Northern FlickerYellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Lake Nelson Birds

Lake Nelson is a small manmade lake in Piscataway, NJ that is home to some mallards, Canada geese, cormorants, herons, and swallows. The migratory birds are amazing, with the male common merganser being our favorite (and the reason we bought better binoculars).

Hooded Merganser
Male Hooded Merganser

Female Common Merganser Belted Kingfisher
Female Common Merganser Belted Kingfisher
Watch it. You're crowding me. Egret
Double-crested cormorants Egret
Wood Duck Whitey and a Canada Goose

Wood Duck Whitey and a Canada Goose
Black Crowned Night Heron Great Blue Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron Great Blue Heron
Cliff Swallow Osprey

Cliff Swallow Osprey

Our Favorite Birding Spots in New Jersey

We started out as backyard birders, just feeding, observing and then photographing the birds that came to our house on Lake Nelson. After a while, we started venturing out more, aided by the JerseyBirds email list and ebird to see a wider variety of birds.

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird: Duke Farms

Red-headed Woodpecker Eastern Towhee
Red-headed Woodpecker: Glenhurst Meadows Eastern Towhee: Higbee (Cape May)
Least Bittern Long Tailed Duck
Least Bittern Cape May Point State Park Long Tailed Duck: Meadowlands
Hooded Warbler Snow Geese landing
Hooded Warbler: Garrett Mountain Snow Geese: Brigantine (Forsythe NWR)
Ruby-crowned kinglet Harlequin Ducks
Ruby-crowned Kinglet: Sandy Hook Harlequin Ducks: Barnegat Light
Bobolink American Redstart
Bobolink: Hoffman Park American Redstart: Liberty State Park
Dickcissel: Negri Nepote Yellow Warbler
Dicksissel: Negri Nepote Yellow Warbler: Celery Farm
Snowy Owl & Squirrel Red-breasted Nuthatch
Snowy Owl: Merrill Creek Reservoir Red Breasted Nuthatch
Round Valley Recreation Area
Yellow-breasted chat Black Skimmers
Yellow-breasted chat: Rutgers Newark Black Skimmers: Cape May Meadows

Birds from around the world

We took two trips internationally for wildlife viewing. Trinidad and Tobago was solely for birding. We went to South Africa more for the "Big 5" mammals but we found guides who also knew the local birds. We went to the Caribbean almost every winter to escape the NJ winters and would enjoy the birds that came to us.

African Hoopoe
African Hoopoe: Londolozi Game Reserve
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Paradise  flycatcher Lilac-breasted Roller
Paradise flycatcher: South Africa Lilac-breasted Roller: South Africa
Secretary Bird  Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Secretary Bird: South Africa Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill: South Africa
Pin-tailed Whydah White-backed Vulture
Pin-tailed Whydah: South Africa White-backed Vulture: South Africa
Bananaquit Man-of-War aka Frigate
Bananaquit: Palm Island Frigate: Jamaica
Antillean  Crested Hummingbird Great Kiskadee
Antillean Crested Hummingbird: Grenada Great Kiskadee: Bermuda
Brown Booby from Guana Island Yellow-faced Grassquit Jamaica March 2009
Brown Booby: Guana Island Yellow-faced Grassquit: Jamaica
Great Blue Heron West Indian Whistling Duck
Heron: Belize West Indian Whistling Duck: Antigua
White Wagtail Northern Parula
White Wagtail: China Northern Parula: Pink Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Pied Cormorant Scarlet Ibis
Pied Cormorant: Monkey Mia, Australia Scarlet Ibis: Trinidad
White-bearded Manikan Purple Honeycreeper (male )
White-bearded Manikan: Trinidad Purple Honeycreeper: Trinidad
Tufted Coquette Blue-crowned Motmot
Tufted Coquette
Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad
Blue-crowned Motmot: Tobago

Birding in the USA

When we travel, we often bring along the birding gear and will squeeze in some birding when we aren't visiting family, attending conferences, or visiting a beach to escape the New Jersey Winters. We only took one trip in the US solely for birding, to Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama.

Roseatte Spoonbill
Roseatte Spoonbill: Ding Darling NWR Sanibel Island, Florida
Male Painted Bunting Burrowing Owl
Painted Bunting
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Collier County, FL
Burrowing Owl
Brian Piccolo Park, Pembroke Pines, Florida
Prothonotary Warbler Summer Tanager
Prothonotary Warbler
Indian Shell Mound Park
Dauphin Island, Alabama
Summer Tanager
Indian Shell Mound Park
Dauphin Island, Alabama
Scissor-tailed flycatcher Common Loon with Chick
Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Airport Fence in Little Rock, Arkansas
Common Loon
Lake Waukewan, New Hampshire
Reddish Egret: Bolsa Chica Wetlands Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret
Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, California
Snowy Egret
Baylands Nature Preserve - Palo Alto, California
Vermilion Flycatcher Gila Woodpecker
Agua Caliente Park
Tucson, Arizona
Gila Woodpecker: Tuscon, AZ
Cedar Waxwing Hummingbird in the vineyard
Cedar Waxwing: Lacy Park, Pasadena, CA Hummingbird, Temecula, California
Pileated Woodpecker: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary American Oystercatchers in flight
Pileated Woodpecker
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Collier County, FL
American Oystercatchers: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Hummingbird White Hawk (Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk)
Hummingbird: Cape Code, Mass Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk: Piscataway, NJ

Stripe-headed Tanager
California Clapper Rail
Stripe-headed Tanager: Puerto Rico California Clapper Rail
Baylands Nature Preserve - Palo Alto, California

Baby Birds

Mute Swan and Cygnets
Mute Swan and Cygnets
Mother and Baby Ducks Incredibly Cute Baby Wood Ducks

Mother and Baby Mallards Mother and Baby Wood Ducks
Three Baby Wrens Baby Turkey

Baby House Wrens Baby Turkeys
Baby Blue Jay Baby Goose (Canada Gosling)

Baby Blue Jay Baby Goose (Canada Gosling)
More Baby Woodpecker Feeding Baby Barn Swallows

Baby Woodpecker Feeding Baby Barn Swallows
Baby Baltimore Oriole Black-crowned Night Heron Chicks

Baby Baltimore Oriole Black-crowned Night Heron Chicks
Robin NestBaby Robin

Robin Nest Baby Robin
Babies in Flicker Nest
House Wrens Fledging
Flickers in Nest House Wrens Fledging
Baby Ducks on a log

Other Animals from Lake Nelson

Chipmunk eating blueberries
Groundhog Three Turtles on a floating island
Groundhog Turtles
Muskrat Bullfrog
Muskrat Bullfrog
Beaver Deer
Beaver Deer
Fox Water Snake
Fox Water Snake

A variety of other wildlife visited our home on Lake Nelson. The beavers were the most interesting but the chipmunk is cute and it was fun to see the fox.


Anonymous Backyard Bird Paradise said...

Wow! Amazing photos! This is my first visit to your blog. You guys good.

October 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I just love your site. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. They rival any professional photographer as far as I can see. My story is similar... I am in the observing phase and have begun to take some very amateur shots, but am inspired by yours! Thanks again.

January 12, 2013 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I very much appreciate the photos on your site which is helping me identify the birds on my deck. Thank you for your efforts. Also, I hope all is well, because you do not seem to have posted since June. Thanks again!

February 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that you are keeping this NJ Bird site up and running, and we people in New Jersey appreciate it. You are exceptional photographers. The very best for you in California. Bird people are fortunate to have you back.

February 10, 2013 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for identifying some common birds in the northern New Jersey area. Other lists I have seen are so broad that I as a backyard bird watcher have been overwhelmed. Finally I can put names to the birds coming to our feeders.

March 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous dolora said...

To all who don't know about New Jersey birding: New Jersey is one of the best states to see migrating birds during the fall and spring. Cape May County is the place to be to see the most birds. We have over 300 different bird species in Jersey. Cape May Point has a hawk/eagle platform that you can see hundreds of birds fly over. There are many "fall outs" where birds fly all night and are so tired they just fall out of the sky and are all over the place. One time when I was at Cape May point there were hundreds and hundreds of kestrels. So many warblers pass through there. People come from different countries to see the migrations in New Jersey. The reason they stay in Cape May is because when they are headed south, they can't see land from the coast so they stay in Cape May and eat and rest until they have enough energy at night fall to continue on with their trip South. All over in Jersey there are very good birding spots.

April 7, 2013 at 2:17 AM  
Anonymous Kabar Makkah said...

what's beatifully birds.. thanks

December 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello and thank you the time it takes to run this site. There are so many benifits to birding that most dont know about i hope that changes with site like this.
Thanks again greg s.g.

May 31, 2014 at 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came here to identify a bird seen in my backyard (turned out to be a Northern Flicker!) and enjoyed your pictures very much. Thanks for your lovely website!

February 9, 2015 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Signsofautumn said...

Hi, beautiful photos!!! I just discovered your blog while looking for identification on a tiny bird I spotted for the first time. I can't believe some of those birds are actually in New Jersey . I'm in Burlington county New Jersey and have mostly common birds, but spot a few unusual birds here and there i've yet to identify. One of most exciting one was a Cooper's hawk on my neighbors roof. We mostly have a lot of Red tail Hawks . As a matter of fact a pair of Red tail Hawks just built a nest a few houses from me. Pretty exciting. Thank you for the great blog.

February 21, 2016 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Signsofautumn said...

Hi Dolora, since you're in Cape May. Do you know if the mayor has registered your town as a Monarch butterfly migratory protection path? I was just wondering. One of the wildlife federations wants towns to register anywhere Monarchs migrate and I thought Cape May would be a great place. Their population has declined a great deal in the past 10 years. Thank you

February 21, 2016 at 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Mike & Chris said...

Hi Maryann,
So glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy watching those nesting hawks!

February 21, 2016 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Surat Al Waqiah said...

Hello and thank you the time it takes to run this site

May 11, 2016 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

we recently moved to NJ from NE -- And in NE we used to watch sandhill crane migration every year-- It's such an amazing sight. And now in NJ I see so many different bird families. It's amazing. Thank you for maintaining this site. It's very helpful in identifying birds.

July 13, 2016 at 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

As an amateur wildlife photographer, I admire your patience and skill required to produce such wonderful pictures! Thank you for sharing them!

October 8, 2016 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I can't find a huge black bird that I saw somewhere around Middletown to Holmdel. Maybe even Hazlet. It flew areound 6 feet above me so I got a pretty clear glimpse of it, especially since it flew a bit slow. It was COMPLETELY black, with a mustard-yellow beak. I don't know the name of it. Help me please!!!

March 9, 2017 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful photographs-appreciated viewing-thanks for sharing!

April 20, 2017 at 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Joanne and i lpve watching nature just saw a yellow bird and needed to know what kind of bird it was, this page told me actually it was my NJ State bird an American Goldfinch. Now I'm a fan of this page and site.... thanks for sharing photos

April 30, 2017 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, anonymous, your black bird may be a European Starlin.

February 18, 2019 at 8:41 PM  

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