Mourning Warbler Gallery – May 28, 2020

Mourning Warbler, Troy Meadows, NJ, May 26, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The secretive, skulking Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) is difficult to view during its spring migration from Central and South America on its journey to boreal breeding habitats and even more problematic in posing long enough to get a usable photograph.

Chuck Hantis captured this species in different poses on May 26, 2020, along Troy Meadows Road in the Troy Meadows Natural Area. Three of his photos are presented here. You can see more of Chuck’s extraordinary photographs at his Flickr site.

Mourning Warbler, Troy Meadows, NJ, May 26, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

In recent years, Troy Meadows Road has become as much of a reliable Mourning Warbler stopover as any. The time frame of its appearance since 2014 falls within May 19-31, occasionally with multiple individuals observed. A streak of ten consecutive days of sightings of this species occurred between May 22-31 in 2019.

Two Mourning Warblers were seen as recent as May 26, 2020. Ironically, a Vermilion Flycatcher was visiting another part of Troy Meadows on that same day viewed and photographed by a fortunate kayaker and not seen since (see that post here).

Mourning Warbler, Troy Meadows, NJ, May 26, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


The New Jersey Bird Records Committee web site is here and contains the list of accepted records, the list of review species, and annual reports.


Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of the World online encyclopedia is here.


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Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermilion Flycatcher at Troy Meadows, May 26, 2020

Vermilion Flycatcher, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, May 26, 2020 (photo by Ted O’Reilly)

(Click on the photo for a larger image at Cornell’s Macaulay Library)

The vestiges of prehistoric Lake Passaic are having a western flycatcher fest this season. First, a Say’s Phoebe spent a morning at the Great Swamp NWR on April 23. See that post here.

Yesterday, May 26, a Vermilion Flycatcher was seen and photographed by a kayaker at Troy Meadows. If accepted by the New Jersey Bird Records Committee, this represents the fifth state record for New Jersey and the first inland. The previous four records are Stone Harbor in May of 2002, Cape May October 2014, and two in 2019, September 25 in Cape May, and October 5 at Sandy Hook.

Ted O’Reilly was kayaking from the Passaic River to the Rockaway River and then the Whippany River crossing under I-280. He then made the right turn onto Troy Brook where the Vermilion Flycatcher was found. Fortunately, he was able to capture the moment with a camera.

Vermilion Flycatcher, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, May 26, 2020 (photo by Ted O’Reilly)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


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Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

State Parks were overrun on May 2. Stay close to home. Be smart!

Be safe. More importantly – BE SMART!

This message is from the State of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry.

See the list of state parks below that were overrun with people on Saturday, May 2.

REMEMBER, COVID-19 IS NOT GONE

In order to KEEP PARKS OPEN and all visitors a safe distance from one another ⚠️ visit close to home, ⚠️ mask up, and ⚠️ make your stay short.

THESE LOCATIONS WERE OVERRUN YESTERDAY
🚨 Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
🚨 Bulls Island Recreation Area
🚨 Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park
🚨 Hacklebarney State Park
🚨 Round Valley Recreation Area
🚨 Wharton State Forest
🚨 Wawayanda State Park
🚨 Worthington State Forest

⚠️CONSIDER VISITING ELSEWHERE TODAY⚠️

Learn social distancing tips in our video: https://youtu.be/x4hc2d0ZKAM

UPDATES ON COVID-19 in NJ
Learn more about COVID-19 in New Jersey: http://covid19.nj.gov/

NJ residents can call 211 with questions or concerns about COVID-19 and to learn resources available to them.

Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to subscribe to text message updates on NJ COVID-19.
New Jersey Division of Parks & Forestry

Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Say’s Phoebe at Great Swamp NWR – April 23, 2020

Say’s Phoebe, Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 23, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

Thanks to Chuck Hantis for the above photo.

This morning, Marc Chelemer located, photographed, and spread the word that a Say’s Phoebe was in a field at the Great Swamp NWR. The Say’s Phoebe was in the field along Wood Duck Way near the refuge entrance on Lees Hill Road in Harding Township.

This represents the second Morris County record for this species. In fact, Morris and Somerset Counties have three of the past eight Say’s Phoebe’s records in New Jersey since 2011. The other five records are split between Cape May and Monmouth counties. That is nice geographical company to be associated with. This assumes the New Jersey Bird Records Committee accepts today’s record. Based on the many photos of today’s Say’s Phoebe, it looks like an easy decision for the committee to make.

Two previous spring records of Say’s Phoebe exist in the annals of accepted records of the New Jersey Bird Records Committee. The first was at Garret Mountain, April 16, 2003, and the last was in Cape May, April 30-May 1, 2009. Today, April 23, adds a third spring record splitting it right down the middle between the previous two April dates. Other than the spring records and a wintering Say’s Phoebe in 1956, all of the other New Jersey records are from September through November. Today’s record will make a total of 24 for the state.

Many observers were able to practice social distancing (enough of Covid-19 is written elsewhere) to see this western vagrant flycatching and perching on low vegetation. This, of course, adds a new species to the refuge list.

Say’s Phoebe, Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 23, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

How many Say’s Phoebes have ventured to the northeast in 2020? There are two winter records from Vermont, of all places. An April 12 record from an airfield near Cleveland, Ohio, and two records from earlier in April near the west shore of Lake Michigan round out the other listings. Today’s Great Swamp record is it for the region as of today. Here is a Say’s Phoebe map for 2020 generated from eBird data today. The blue markers represent beyond thirty days from today and the red markers within thirty days.

Below is the typical range of this species courtesy of Cornel Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of the World.

Here are links to New Jersey Bird Records Committee web pages and files of interest.

Lists and Annual Reports Scroll down for annual reports from 1992-2019.

New Jersey State List – All bird species recorded in the state

List of Accepted Records of Rare Birds in New Jersey

New Jersey Review List – Bird species reviewable by the NJBRC

A poor photo below, but a look at the underside of the Say’s Phoebe as it lifted off of a perch. Apparently, it was not seen after approximately 12:30-1:00 PM.

Say’s Phoebe, Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co., NJ, Apr. 23, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


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Posted in Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Redheads, and the 2019 NJ Bald Eagle Report – Jan. 16, 2020

Redhead, Lake Parsippany, Morris Co., NJ, Jan. 16, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

After a sparse waterfowl season, wintering ducks are starting to inhabit the lakes of the region. Chuck Hantis had at least eight Redheads and a pair of Canvasbacks at Lake Parsippany today. Two Redheads were there earlier in the week along with eight Northern Shovelers. Chuck’s beautiful Redhead photos appear on this page. His Flickr page is here and is worth a look.

Redheads, Lake Parsippany, Morris Co., NJ, Jan. 16, 2020 (photo by Chuck Hantis)


The 2019 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report is here. 249 young were produced at 184 known-outcome nests in the entire state.

Bald Eagle reports going back to 2003 can be found here.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


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The Emerald Ash Borer and Morris County Parks – Jan. 11, 2020

Fallen Ash Trees, Central Park of Morris Co., NJ, Jan. 11, 2020 (iPhone photo by Jonathan Klizas)

On December 22, a team of Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) participants visited Central Park of Morris County, the former Greystone Park property. See a prior post about the park here. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that day. The park looked like it had during the autumn.

Today, January 11, 2020, was this writer’s first visit to the park since the CBC. The first difference noticed was that most of the fields were mowed. The same cut took place the previous winter. The fields grow back. In fact, the stand of Common Milkweed was outstanding this past summer.

Walking along the path on the West Hanover Ave. side of the park revealed an entirely different scene. Dozens upon dozens of cut ash trees were piled up horizontally on the ground. The photo at the top of this page represents a small section of the ash tree removal procedure. It is the result of the Morris County Park Commissions’s Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan, the content of which can be read here.

Fallen Ash Trees, Central Park of Morris County, Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, Jan. 11, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

According to the county park website, Morris County has the highest density of ash trees in the state of New Jersey. 12,000 trees are already tagged to date. Trees in high use areas will be removed. In select locations, the Morris County Park Commission is utilizing trunk injections of insecticides to protect select ash trees.

The county park web site gives a sense of the Emerald Ash Borer’s destruction: it has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America and is considered to be the most destructive and expensive insect ever to invade the United States.

It seems appropriate to show some woodpecker photos from today. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Downy Woodpecker are from Central Park of Morris County. The Hairy Woodpecker is from a different Central Park in Whippany. Click on the photos for a larger image.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Central Park of Morris County, Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, Jan. 11, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Downy Woodpecker, Central Park of Morris County, Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, Jan. 11, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Hairy Woodpecker, Central Park, Whippany, Morris Co., NJ, Jan. 11, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


Posted in Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Updated Totals for 2019 Boonton CBC: 96 Species

The compiler missed a checklist. The total species count is now 96. The completely updated 2019 Boonton CBC report is at the same link as when it was originally posted:

https://mocosocobirds.com/2019/12/24/the-84th-boonton-christmas-bird-count-report-2019/

The same report is here:
https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2019-2/

Reports going back to 2012 are in the sub-menu of Birds of Morris County->Boonton Christmas Bird Count


finis


Posted in Christmas Bird Count, Historical, Morris County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 84th Boonton Christmas Bird Count Report – 2019

The White Red-tailed Hawk of Watnong Mountain (photo by Chuck Hantis)

This is an updated version of the report. The compiler missed a checklist. The total species count is adjusted to 96, not 94 as originally stated.

The 84th annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurred on Sunday, December 22, 2019, the first full day of winter. Temperatures at dawn were in the 18°F range but warmed up to 46° in the afternoon. 45 dedicated participants enjoyed a beautiful day outside.

The week leading up to the count was frigid. Most shallow lakes and ponds were frozen. Enough water remained open to get some waterfowl numbers at least. 

Recent rains caused local flooding but generally, conditions were as good as can be this time of year.

96 species were tallied along with two count week additions. This is better than the recent average and a testament to the wide coverage of the count circle.

2 count-week species, Common Loon, and Northern Goshawk are part of the record although not included in the actual totals for the count day (count-week is defined as three days prior to and three days after the actual count date).

The White Red-tailed Hawk of Watnong Mountain was tallied as he returns for a sixth year, at least, at his usual location along Old Dover Road near Greystone Psychiatric Hospital.

15,581 individual birds were tallied. This is an improvement over the past two years but still below the 21st century average of 25,566 and the eighty-four year average of 16,487.

Highlights for this year’s CBC are below.

  • For the first time since 2003, Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Long-eared Owl, and Northern Saw-whet Owl were tallied in the same year.
  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers rebounded from a recent dropoff and tallied 243 individuals, the second-highest total in the history of the Boonton CBC. This species was first reported as a count-week record in 1955. It did not get counted again until 1966 when it became an official number in the database and wasn’t reported again until 1972 when one was tallied. Numbers grew unabated since then, reaching a peak of 281 in 2001 before dropping off until this year.
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers reached double-digits, 11, for the first time in count history. It was first reported in 1970. This shows the expanded range of this species. 2019 is the first year of confirmed nesting in Morris County, two actually, with possible 2018 nestings as well.
  • Woodpecker numbers, in general, are up from recent years.
  • Another new double-digit achiever and a relatively recent addition to the local avifauna, Common Raven reached their all-time high count of 12. Common Raven first appeared on the count in 2002.
  • 19 Winter Wrens is the second-highest count in Boonton CBC history with 23 in 1998 as the highest.
  • 1 House Wren represents the tenth occurrence of this species in the history of the Boonton CBC and the first since 2014.
  • 108 Carolina Wrens is the second time this number is reached and the second highest in count history with 120 in 2006 as the highest total.
  • All three mimic thrushes are represented with 3 Gray Catbirds, 2 Brown Thrashers, and 50 Northern Mockingbirds. 
  • A Palm Warbler was photographed at Hatfield Swamp and is only the third report of this species in the 21st century for the Boonton CBC.
  • Likewise, the third Common Yellowthroat record in the 21st century was had at Troy Meadows.
  • Sparrow numbers were impressive including, of all things, a record total of White-throated Sparrows, 1,591. The highest count prior to this was in 2001 with 1,554. Numbers fluctuate greatly in the interim period.
  • Swamp Sparrows are well-represented. A total of 183 is only the third time in eighty-four years that triple digits of this species were counted. The last two are 102 in 1975 and 207 in 1976.
  • 573 Song Sparrows is the highest total since 1,293 in 2001.
  • Field Sparrows had 55 which is the most since 63 in 2006 and a pleasant rise from the low numbers experienced in recent years.
  • Eastern Towhees had their second-highest total with 35. The 21st-century average is 7.0. The highest was 37 in, you may have guessed it, 2001. 2001 continues to popup with high counts because it is the all-time Boonton CBC maximum total individuals year with 62,336. It is not just because of ~20,000 Common Grackles and 17,000 European Starlings counted that year either. Eleven other species also broke the 1,000 count mark.

40 species were above their 21st Century average. Only 13 were above average in 2018. While this is a pleasant change from the downward trend in recent years, there remain troubling signs with many species and the overall total number of individuals.

Below is a graph of the total number of individuals on the Boonton CBC from 1936 through 2019. Keep in mind that total numbers did not consistently exceed 10,000 until the 1970s as the number of observers increased. A steady rise in totals is seen from the 1970s to 2001. After that, there is a decline in totals, except for the anomaly of 2013 which featured huge totals of Common Grackles and American Robins. 

In the following chart, the X-axis is the year and Y-axis the total amount.

Below is a list of species experiencing the sharpest declines based on 21st-century averages. Because of the icing of many bodies of water in 2019, waterfowl and waterbirds are kept out of this survey. Most of the species also appeared on the 2018 list of declining numbers:

    • Red-tailed Hawk – 25% off the average. The 21st-century pattern of overall decline continues.
    • Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were 62% and 77% off of their 21st-century averages, respectively.
    • Rock Pigeon – 192 in 2019 is the lowest total since counting for this species began in 1973, a continuing trend in recent years.
    • Mourning Dove – 33% off ave. 334 is the third-lowest total since 1988 with 254 in 2009 the lowest.
    • Am. Crows are down by 81%, a continuing trend,  while Fish Crows rose by 28%.
    • Black-capped Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse totals are not what they used to be. Both species continue their downward trend being 60% and 50% below average respectively. 155 Tufted Titmouse is the third-lowest total since 1969. For perspective, the average total of Tufted Titmouse from 1991-2001 was 518.
    • Am. Robins were down 91%, but totals of this species vary greatly from year to year.
    • No. Mockingbird rebounded this year slightly but are still down 41%.
    • Where have all the Starlings gone? 985 is 70% off average and the lowest total since 944 in 1970.
    • Dark-eyed Juncos are down by 43%. The third year in a row of totals under 1,000.
    • House Sparrow – down 54% continuing a recent decline. 2017 through 2019 represents the three lowest totals since 1971.
    • Many sparrow species had a positive rise in numbers this year, but American Tree Sparrows continue a downward trend. 2019’s 168 is much better than 2018’s 32 but a far cry from the glory days of the 1970s when 1,000 plus was common. 

The following species were seen by one party only. The species column is followed by the amount reported. The third column represents the percentage of occurrences in the 84-year history of the count:

Seen by only one party
Species Tot. % on CBC Comment
Redhead 11 47.6 Most still water was frozen.
Double-crested Cormorant 1 8.3 Only recorded three times in the 21st-century.
American Coot 1 76.2
Killdeer 1 64.3 Missed the previous two years.
Great Black-backed Gull 12 65.5 Was more common in the 1980s-90s.
Long-eared Owl 4 61.9 Becoming harder to find.
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1 26.2 Increasingly harder to find.
House Wren 1 11.9 Only the 10th occurrence on the CBC.
American Pipit 3 33.3 Some years you get them, some years you don’t.
Palm Warbler 1 11.9 Documented with a photo. Nice!
Common Yellowthroat 1 25.0 First since 2004.
Purple Finch 1 91.7 Not a winter finch season this year.

The following table shows notable species missed in 2019. 

Notable Species Missed
Species % on CBC Comment
Lesser Scaup 52.4 A scaup sp. was reported.
Ruffed Grouse 60.7 Not seen since 2006.
American Kestrel 88.1 Missed in 3 of the past 5 years.
Peregrine Falcon 20.2 A subtle increase in the area but missed this year.
Wilson’s Snipe 61.9 Formerly annual, now rare on the count.
American Woodcock 39.3 See Snipe comment.
Horned Lark 47.6 Not since 2014; only thrice in the 21st century. 
Red-breasted Nuthatch 71.4 Not a year for Red-breasted Nuthatches.
White-crowned Sparrow 35.7 Annual from 1994-2013; only once since.
Pine Siskin 57.1 Not a year for winter finches.

 Historical Tidbits

Below is the list of species occurring on all 84 years of the Boonton CBC. This has not changed since 2018:

  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • European Starling
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

Here is the top ten of the number of individuals for all 84 years of the count:

Species Total Individuals (84 years)
1 European Starling 208,432
2 Canada Goose 165,887
3 Common Grackle 127,918
4 American Crow 125,291
5 Mallard 64,290
6 Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 56,041
7 American Tree Sparrow 53,340
8 Red-winged Blackbird 43,847
9 Ring-billed Gull 39,445
10 House Sparrow 38,541

The top ten number of individuals for the past decade, 2010-2019:

Species Total Individuals (2010-2019)
1 Canada Goose 42,699
2 Common Grackle 33,614 (16,694 in 2013)
3 European Starling 20,935
4 American Robin 14,073 (8,790 in 2013)
5 Common Merganser 9,378
6 Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 8,809
7 Mallard 8,089
8 White-throated Sparrow 7,172
9 Red-winged Blackbird 5,721
10 Ring-billed Gull 4,714

Mark your calendars. Next year’s count will be on Sunday, December 27, 2020.

This report is also at the following location on the mocosocoBirds.com web site:

https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2019-2/

A list of the species found on this CBC is at the following link:

https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/species-list/

You can also access these pages through the Birds of Morris County > Boonton Christmas Bird Count menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com web site.

A wonderful 2020 to all!

Nature and Art, nothing else matters.

Jonathan Klizas, Compiler

Boonton Christmas Bird Count

Posted in Christmas Bird Count, Historical, Morris County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife: Piping Plover/Beach Nesting Birds 2019 Management Reports – Nov. 7, 2019

NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife: Piping Plover/Beach Nesting Birds 2019 Management Reports

Not a typical Morris and Somerset County blog post, but in case you do not subscribe to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife newsletters, here are the following reports:

And other links regarding this topic:


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


Posted in Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | 1 Comment

Yellow Rail at Great Swamp NWR on Oct. 25, 2019

Yellow Rail Found (deceased) at Great Swamp NWR

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) is a rare visitor to New Jersey with approximately forty accepted records going back to circa 1877 (see the New Jersey Bird Records Committee’s Accepted Records list here). There are zero records since 2014.

As Bill Boyle states in  The Birds of New Jersey, Status and Distribution published in 2011: “There have been almost forty accepted records of Yellow Rail in New Jersey, including twenty-one specimens, but many encounters are not reported to the Records Committee.”

As of October 2019, make that twenty-two specimens and this one will be reported to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.

Yellow Rail, Great Swamp NWR, Morris Co., NJ, Oct. 25, 2019 (photo by Richard Hiserodt)

This is John Berry’s account from October 25, 2019, of finding a deceased Yellow Rail in the Great Swamp on the headquarters driveway: “I almost drove by the rail. We were in a UTV [Utility Task Vehicle, editor], driving to a worksite (we’re volunteers on the swamp strike team, which does habitat restoration/protection projects). I saw it was a dead bird and, from its color, assumed it was a sparrow, drove 30 more yards, then realized it wasn’t a sparrow, so stopped.”

The rail was not collected, but Richard Hiserodt documented the find with a photograph taken with an iPhone. The rail appeared to be recently expired so the October 25 date seems accurate and will be the date of the sighting in the eBird database.

Historically in New Jersey, Yellow Rail records from the autumn are visual records. Spring migration records should be vetted carefully as Yellow Rail nocturnal vocalizations can easily be confused with Cricket Frogs in cool spring weather.

Here is the range of Yellow Rails. As you can see, New Jersey is not on their radar.

Courtesy of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of North America Online


Reporting Dead Birds on eBird

The Yellow Rail report raises an interesting dilemma regarding the entering of dead species on eBird checklists.

According to the eBird file What Data are Appropriate? found here:
“Only include living birds count. In the long run (eBird) hopes to gather information on dead birds, but at this point eBird is intended only for living birds.”

What about extraordinary dead birds? Yellow Rail is a very significant bird in New Jersey, dead or alive. A search through the eBird reviewer’s forum regarding this issue returned the following comments by Marshall Iliff, the eBird Project Leader at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

From Marshall Iliff, the caps are Marshall’s:
“So, for those who have NOTEWORTHY dead birds to enter, these are the considerations that need to be factored in:

1) Dead birds must not be entered on complete checklists. The best protocol is to have live birds on a complete checklist and dead birds on a separate one.

2) Dead birds should not be entered as the date is not likely to be correct. Beach-washed birds or very old roadkill may not have any association with the date it was found. As Chris Wood wrote in a 2010 (!) exchange on this topic “there is really no way that a mummified Long-tailed Jaeger found in Ithaca in February should ever be entered and validated in eBird because we have no idea on the date the bird really showed up” [this is a real example]

3) Dead birds should not be included in your personal count *unless* you have opted out of Top 100 and plan to remain that way. Dead birds quite simply do not “count” on bird lists when they are featured in competitive fora like the Top100

4) the best way to avoid #3 is to have a separate account, such as “Wisconsin Historical Data” that can enter the dead bird information.”

That sums it up. If you find a NOTEWORTHY dead bird, use intelligent judgment when listing it on eBird. eBird reviewers, please be consistent with the aforementioned guidelines.


View local eBird checklists in the mocosocoBirds region via eBird’s Region Explorer. Use the following links:

The eBird Hotspot Primer is here and can also be accessed via the Hotspot menu item on the mocosocoBirds.com website.


The mocosocoBirds Facebook page is located here and also posts timely information not found on the mocosocoBirds web site.

@mocosocoBirds at Twitter is another communications stream. Instant field reports and links of interest are tweeted as they occur. The latest tweets appear on the sidebar of this page. One can follow mocosocoBirds at Twitter or link to @mocosocoBirds.


Finis


Posted in Historical, Morris County, Somerset County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments