Dickcissels in Parsippany – Oct. 6, 2021

Dickcissels, Central Park of Morris County, Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, Oct. 6, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A pair of Dickcissels were found among the tubed saplings in the western area of Central Park of Morris County this afternoon, Oct. 6. One of these was seen by George Eschenbach on the afternoon of Oct. 3. George also recorded a Nelson’s Sparrow that day. This makes two years in a row that Nelson’s Sparrow has been found in Parsippany. Otherwise, it is a mega rarity in Morris County.

Central Park of Morris County is the old Greystone property that has been overrun with playing fields. A post from 2018 mentions the old Kirkbride Building and its famous resident, Woody Guthrie. The post is here. Incidentally, the white Red-tailed Hawk headlining that post has passed away.

The preserved area of the park has tallied 124 species as of today. The park is an eBird hotspot. The link for it is here. It is a local place worth visiting especially during the autumn sparrow season. Be aware that the park is extremely popular. There can be Soccer, Lacrosse, and Cross Country tournaments running concurrently during certain periods of the year.


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.


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.


Finis


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Chimney Swift Research Request – June 4, 2021

Emma Dougherty is an ecology researcher at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. She is currently studying the effects of light pollution on the roosting behavior of Chimney Swifts.

Here is a description of the project:

Effects of artificial light on Chimney Swift roosting behavior

The effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) has been shown to have widespread effects on the phenology and behaviors of wildlife. In birds, this has led to extended periods of singing, calling, and active feeding. Chimney swifts [Chaetura pelagica] are a small insectivorous species of bird that is distributed across North and South America. They are an interesting example of commensalism with humans, utilizing artificial structures such as chimneys for nesting, breeding, and roosting, sometimes in groups comprised of thousands of individuals. Chimney swifts are declining and are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, for reasons that are unclear. For this project, we are examining the effects of ALAN on the roosting behavior in this threatened species.  

If the reader has information on roost sites or possible roost sites of Chimney Swifts please contact Emma at this address: emmadough@student.fdu.edu

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Great Blue Herons – May 18, 2021

Great Blue Herons, Morris Co., NJ, May 16, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A heronry in Morris County is having a productive season. Incubation in April has led to Great Blue Heron sprouts in May.

Great Blue Herons, Morris Co., NJ, May 16, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

In a recent year, a Great Horned Owl had a nest in one of the condominium trees. The Great Blue Herons seemed not to mind and had nests above and near the owl nest. Below is a typical image of the nest arrangements. The snags seem fragile but the Great Blue Herons return every year and rear young.

Great Blue Herons, Morris Co., NJ, May 16, 2021 (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.


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.


Finis

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Cattle Egret, again – May 17, 2021

Cattle Egret, near Boonton Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, May 17, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

We’ll never know if it is the same individual roaming parts of Morris County this month but it seems more than likely. After not having a Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) reported in Morris County since 2012, there are three records this month:

  • May 5 on Chapin Rd., Pine Brook.
  • May 6 in Troy Meadows.
  • May 17 near the water treatment plant on Greenbank Drive near Boonton Reservoir.

The distance between these locations is three to six miles.

Cattle Egret, near Boonton Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, May 17, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)
Cattle Egret, near Boonton Reservoir, Morris Co., NJ, May 17, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)
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Cattle Egret in Morris County – May 5, 2021

Cattle Egret, Pine Brook, Morris Co., NJ, May 5, 2021 Photo by Chuck Hantis

Chuck Hantis found a Cattle Egret today near the pond on Chapin Road in Pine Brook. This is the first Cattle Egret sighting in Morris County since 2012. The Cattle Egret moved from tree to tree eventually settling on a grassy area to feed. Thanks to Chuck for the beautiful photos. His Flickr site can be viewed here.

Cattle Egret, Pine Brook, Morris Co., NJ, May 5, 2021 Photo by Chuck Hantis

Kentucky Warbler at Troy Meadows

Elsewhere, a Kentucky Warbler was found by Roger Johnson at Troy Meadows earlier during a soggy and foggy morning. This species is being found annually in Morris County in recent years.

Evening Grosbeak at Lord Stirling

Later in the day a female Evening Grosbeak visited the Fisherman’s Lot at Lord Stirling Park.


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.

Finis


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Eurasian Wigeon at Troy Meadows, came and went – Mar. 23, 2021

Eurasian Wigeon, Troy Meadows, Morris Co., NJ, Mar. 23, 2021 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

A drake Eurasian Wigeon showed briefly at Troy Meadows this afternoon before flying off with a group of American Black Ducks towards the south. See the distant heavily cropped photo above.

This was thought to be a Troy Meadows first record, but wait…James L. Edwards of Montclair, NJ, reported one on April 30, 1932 in the October 1932 issue of The Auk (Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 460-461).

The subject of Mr. Edwards’s article was a European Teal that he had observed previously and was still being seen. The well-described Teal is what we now refer to as the Eurasian Green-winged Teal or Common Teal. The drake European Widgeon (the old name and spelling as stated in the article) was added as an additional species.

So make this the first Eurasian Wigeon known to be seen at Troy Meadows in the past 89 years.

______________________________________________________

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.


Finis


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The 85th Boonton Christmas Bird Count Report – 2020

Common Raven, Morris Twp., Morris Co., NJ, Dec. 27, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

The 85th annual Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurred on Sunday, December 27, 2020. The temperature at dawn was 19°F and climbed to 35°F in the afternoon. Beautifully clear skies made for a comfortable day in the field for the 40 participants.

The mild temperatures and heavy rain of December 23-24 melted the earlier snowfall clearing the ground. Most water sources were ice-free.

86 species were tallied along with two count-week additions. 

The two count-week species, Northern Saw-whet Owl and Northern Harrier, are part of the record although not included in the official totals for the count day submitted to the National Audubon CBC data center (count-week is defined as three days prior to and three days after the actual count date).

13,463 individual birds were tallied. While historically low, the average for the previous three years (2017-19) is 13,156.

Highlights for this year’s CBC are below. All high counts refer to the Boonton CBC:

  • Winter finches lingered long enough to be tallied in 2020. Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill, and one lone Red-breasted Nuthatch are included this year.
  • A record number of 14 Bald Eagles smashed the previous record of 10.
  • 23 Pileated Woodpeckers is a new record. 18 in 2016 was the previous high. From 1936 to 1968, Pileateds were rare with singletons only and mostly none reported. 
  • 146 Buffleheads is second only to the 221 tallied in 2006.
  • For the second year in a row, a high count of 12 Common Ravens was counted.
  • 130 Carolina Wrens is an 85-year record.
  • 22 Winter Wrens is the second-highest total to the 23 of 1998.
  • You may notice a few more vultures floating around this season. 86 Turkey Vultures is the most since 2012, and 58 Black Vultures is the most since 2015. 
  • 11 Red-shouldered Hawks is the highest total since…13 in 1954. The 85-year average is 3.
  • 80 Red-tailed Hawks is an improvement over recent years and the most since 2008.
  • American Kestrel (1), Merlin (2), and Peregrine Falcon (1) were all represented.
  • Eastern Screech-Owl spots must be well-known to the pre-dawn owlers. The past three years have totals of 23, 22, and 22.
  • 21 Belted Kingfishers is the second-highest total since 2002.
  • 1 Wilson’s Snipe is the first since 2014. Snipe were almost annual until recent years. The high count was 29 in 1979. 22 were counted as recently as 2010.
  • Black-capped Chickadees doubled their totals from the previous three years. 170 in 2020; 59, 78, and 82 from 2017-19 respectively.
  • 18 Brown Creepers is the most since 2012 and the second-highest since 1996.
  • Eastern Bluebirds (47) had their second-highest total since 2008. The 21st-century average is 33.
  • Wild Turkeys were first recorded in 1983 and not again until 1988 where they have been annually tallied uninterrupted through 2020.
  • 10 Common Goldeneyes is the highest count since 10 in 1996. 
  • 3 Chipping Sparrows make this three out of four years for this uncommon species on the CBC.

33 species were above their 21st-Century average. Of course, this means that 53 species were below their 21st-century average. 40 were above average in 2019. 

Other news:

  • American Wigeon was missed for the fourth time in six years after a streak of 25 years of being counted.
  • Eastern Towhee had their second-highest total in 2019 with 35. In 2020: zero, only the second miss since 1968 other than a count-week tally.
  • Gray Catbird: third miss in five years after a string of almost annual records since the 1970s.
  • 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch was a nice find, especially since it was missed in three of the previous five years. It was annual from 1968-2014 often with double-digit totals. Think of this: 58 Red-breasted Nuthatches in 1981.
  • Zero Red-headed Woodpeckers were found. So it goes with this cyclical species. 25 were counted in 2019.
  • What does one make of the roller-coaster swings of the Red-bellied Woodpecker population? The following four years are typical since 2010. Similar trends can be found with the other woodpecker species as well.
Year total
2020 82
2019 243
2018 142
2017 51
  • 173 Blue Jays is the lowest total since 173 in 1988.

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 85-year history of the count:

Seen by only one party
Species Tot. % on CBC Comment
Northern Pintail 4 69.4 Seen every year since 1998, usually in low numbers
Redhead 8 48.2 Usually found somewhere on the CBC.
Pied-billed Grebe 4 76.5 Only three misses since 1965.
American Kestrel 1 88.2 Was annual from 1936-98; sporadic since.
Peregrine Falcon 1 21.2 First occurred on the count in 1997.
Wilson’s Snipe 1 62.4 Formerly fairly regular, now rare on the CBC.
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 71.8 Annual from 1968-2014.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 72.9 Only two misses since 1970. 
Chipping Sparrow 3 28.2 2nd year in a row.
Savannah Sparrow 1 72.9 Three misses since 1971.
Brown-headed Cowbird 5 82.4 In keeping with low numbers of Icterids.
Purple Finch 4 91.8 Annual from 1966-2014. Twice missed plus a count-week species since then.

The following table shows notable species missed in 2020 that appear <50% in the history of the count. 

Species Missed % on CBC Comment
Canvasback 60.0 Not reported since 2016, formerly regular.
Lesser Scaup 51.8 Missed three out of four years.
Ruffed Grouse 60.0 Not seen since 2006.
Northern Harrier 81.2 Tallied as a count-week species this year.
Rough-legged Hawk 55.3 Not surprising.
Killdeer 63.5 Missed three out of four years.
Great Black-backed Gull 64.7 First complete miss since 1968, with one count-week year included in that period.
Long-eared Owl 61.2 Tallied only once in the past six years.
Eastern Towhee 78.8 35 in 2019; none in 2020.

 Historical Items

Below is the list of species occurring in all 85 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 85 years of the count. No change in the order from last year:

  Species Total Individuals (85 years)
1 European Starling 209,737
2 Canada Goose 170,100
3 Common Grackle 128,030
4 American Crow 125,776
5 Mallard 64,713
6 Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 56,825
7 American Tree Sparrow 53,530
8 Red-winged Blackbird 43,918
9 Ring-billed Gull 39,705
10 House Sparrow 38,860

Mark your calendars. Next year’s count will be on Sunday, December 26, 2021.

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

https://mocosocobirds.com/birds-of-morris-county-n-j/boontoncbc/2020-2/

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 2021 to all!

Nature and Art, nothing else matters.

Jonathan Klizas, Compiler

Boonton Christmas Bird Count

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Nelson’s Sparrow in Parsippany – Oct. 3, 2020

Nelson’s Sparrow, Parsippany, NJ, Oct. 3, 2020 (photo by Steve Kolb)

Late in the day on Saturday, October 3, 2020, Steve Kolb was across from the Hyatt Hotel near the intersection of Jefferson and Smith Roads in Parsippany. This is the area of the eBird hotspot, Jefferson Rd. Pond. A black morph of the Eastern Gray Squirrel caught Steve’s attention and he attempted to get a photograph of it.

The previous night’s heavy migration dumped an impressive bounty of birds in the Morris area. As Steve was trying for a squirrel photo, one particular bird piqued Steve’s curiosity and he fired off a number of photos of the Ammospiza species he was seeing.

By late Sunday morning, mocosocoBirds was made aware of the find. A few people looked but the Nelson’s Sparrow was not relocated.

This is the first documented Nelson’s Sparrow for Morris County that mocosocoBirds is aware of. It already appears on the county list but without annotation.

Steve’s photos are stunning. Take a look at his Flickr page, here.

Nelson’s Sparrow, Parsippany, NJ, Oct. 3, 2020 (photo by Steve Kolb)
Nelson’s Sparrow, Parsippany, NJ, Oct. 3, 2020 (photo by Steve Kolb)
Nelson’s Sparrow, Parsippany, NJ, Oct. 3, 2020 (photo by Steve Kolb)

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.


Finis



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Red Phalarope at Lake Parsippany; other records of interest – Sep. 26, 2020

Red Phalarope, Lake Parsippany, Morris Co., NJ, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)

Lake Parsippany does not qualify as a pelagic destination but for reasons best reserved for the species themselves to divulge, a Red Phalarope, one of the most ocean-faring of shorebird species, spent the day at the southern end of the lake, viewed by many observers.

Separating the three phalarope species (Red, Red-necked, and Wilson’s) can be a daunting task in fall migration. Credit goes to Sean Ondich for finding and initially identifying the bird and to Rob Fanning for broadcasting the finding on the local rare bird text alerts.

Jeff Ellerbusch describes this particular individual as a “hatch-year Red Phalarope pretty far along into first pre-basic molt.” The phalarope’s identification was in question for a while this afternoon based on in-person observation and photo study as the bird showed conflicting characteristics of both Red and Red-necked Phalaropes.

In the end, Red Phalarope won out over Red-necked. Jeff heard a diagnostic high-pitched call which helped to clinch the identification. Also, Red Phalarope juveniles are further along in their molt cycle than Red-necked Phalaropes at this time of the year.

This is a historic sighting. As far as is known, this is the first record of a Red Phalarope in Morris County since September 1, 1990, when one was located at Boonton Reservoir by two giants in the history of New Jersey birding, Rich Kane and Tom Halliwell. That is thirty years and twenty-five days ago. Tom also has the only other known Red Phalarope record for Morris County from Lake Musconetcong on August 12, 1982.

Red Phalarope, Lake Parsippany, Morris Co., NJ, Sept. 26, 2020 (photo by Jonathan Klizas)


American Golden-Plover in Morris County

Another sighting that has historic value for Morris County, is the American Golden-Plover found and photographed by Clint Robinson on September 21 at Freund Park, Roxbury Township. This is also known as Horseshoe Lake and is the trailhead for the West Morris Greenway. This is the first known record for this species in Morris County since David Harrison found one at the same location on September 28, 1989.

American Golden-Plover, Roxbury Twp., Morris Co., NJ, Sep. 21, 2020 (photo by Clint Robinson)

American Golden-Plover, Roxbury Twp., Morris Co., NJ, Sep. 21, 2020 (photo by Clint Robinson)


July Record of White-crowned Sparrow in New Jersey

Interesting rarities have appeared in New Jersey during the past few months dominating the state’s birding attention.

A local Somerset County sighting flew under the radar on July 24. Doryce Wheeler photographed a White-crowned Sparrow in her Bridgewater yard. The significance of this? There are no known records of White-crowned Sparrow in New Jersey for July…or August. Even June records are rare. Late September is the earliest this species arrives in the state. Quite a remarkable find in this unforgettable year of 2020.

White-crowned Sparrow, Bridgewater, Somerset Co., NJ, July 24, 2020 (photo by Doryce Wheeler)

White-crowned Sparrow, Bridgewater, Somerset Co., NJ, July 24, 2020 (photo by Doryce Wheeler)


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.


Finis


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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.


Finis


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