E. Carleton Thurber published A List of Birds of Morris County in 1887 in the True Democratic Banner a Morristown weekly newspaper existing from approximately 1844-1917. The List is reviewed in Volume V (1888) of the Auk, listed in the appendix of Frank Chapman’s Color Key to North American Birds (1903, 1912), mentioned in Witmer Stone’s The Birds of New Jersey (1908), and is lauded as an “excellent” list in a review of Stone’s book in Bird-lore Volume 12 (1910). Unless history shows otherwise, the current list from 2011 represents the first compilation since that time to record the species of birds in Morris County, New Jersey. These two lists create a bridge over time, spanning the changes in the environment, society and technology. These changes from the 19th century to the present are unequaled in history for their dramatic and altering effect. Thurber’s list was respected in his time and was used as a reference for many years. The author of this new list attempts to ensure the list’s integrity with the sightings presented, to create a document of accuracy and authoritativeness.
Records on this list are from private accounts, publications and databases. The criteria regarding acceptance of State Review Species records follow those of the New Jersey Bird Record Committee (NJBRC). If NJBRC rejects a record then it will not appear on this list. If not yet reviewed by NJBRC the record appears notated as tentative. Interesting records have annotations where possible. Most will have dates and the observer’s name but in some cases, an approximation is all that is available. More notes and annotations will occur as this list matures and information becomes known and accessible.
Breeding records are primarily from the breeding bird atlas published in Birds of New Jersey by Walsh, Elia, Kane and Halliwell (New Jersey Audubon Society, 1999). Obviously, the atlas is a slice of time from the 1990s and other records will eventually supplement them. This is at least a beginning. Species labeled as “probable” nesters are given equal status with “confirmed” nesters meaning their status in the list is breeder. Those labeled as “possible” are given breeder status but with an explanatory notation.
In lieu of presenting species’ occurrences by season as is often done with regional lists, it is advised that the reader consult the following books:
- Birds of New Jersey by J. Walsh, V. Elia, R. Kane and T. Halliwell (N.J. Audubon Society, 1999).
- The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution by W.J. Boyle, Jr. and K.T. Karlson (photographic editor) (Princeton University Press, 2011)
- A Guide to Bird Finding in New Jersey, revised and expanded, by W.J. Boyle, Jr., (Rutgers University Press, 2003)
This list follows the taxonomic order and naming conventions presented in the 52nd supplement to the 7th edition of the American Ornithological Union’s Check-list of North American Birds and consequently Clements Checklist version 6.6 as far as is known by this author. Please report any inconsistencies, errors and typos via http://mocosocobirds.com/bird-reporter/
The List of the Birds of Morris County is a dynamically evolving work. As information becomes available, the list is updated and expanded. One can only dream how a compilation of this type appears in the future as technology changes. For now, this is what we have. The Birding in Morris and Somerset Counties web site, mocosocoBirds.com, serves as the communicator for any major and periodic updates.
This list does not exist without the decades-long work of many outstanding birders in the Morris County area. Glenn Mahler’s detailed county records are paramount in the formation of this current list. Rich Kane and Tom Halliwell added many notes and records from their personal files and recollections. Thanks to Bill Boyle, Pete Bacinski, Roger Johnson, David Harrison, Alan Boyd, Mike Hiotis and many others for further additions and clarifications.
Special thanks to The North Jersey History & Genealogy Center, a department within the Morristown & Morris Township Library, for their help with historical documents and information.
Morris Township, NJ
November 24, 2011
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