[Updated January 11, 2020]
Growing up my family had binoculars and a few different bird books. Now, if you know my family well, this might seem surprising to you. However, it is a very relaxing activity. During the current circumstances, we’ve seen a lot more hawks in our neighborhood. That it has given us pause to watch them soar over us. It is this simple act we’ve been appreciating during everything that’s going on.
During the special time of 2020,, we have been noticing more birds, specifically hawks in our area. We have been known to even get a Bald Eagle! Before this, my Dad actually mentioned to me that bird watching would be a great blog too. I brushed it off saying he wasn’t my target audience and no one would be interested in that.
2020 strikes and my family is talking about birds we see coming to our yard. On a walk in the neighborhood, we’re talking to our neighbors about birds we’ve noticed.
One evening a hawk actually caught a squirrel and was having dinner in a tree by our property. It was oddly fascinating having NAT Geo be in our suburbia. Sorry if that disturbed, just never saw in person, and how the bird was also looking around to protect itself.
During this, since we were distanced away, my family was split if it was an owl or a hawk in the tree. Low and behold once we saw the actual bird then found out what was actually going on.
I then start writing this post because of how enjoyed we were in this activity. A friend and I even talked about bird watching. She said her family has been really into bird watching and have taken out books they had from when they were younger. I know people are looking for different local activities in Northern New Jersey. A staycation might also be a major buzz word.
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If you follow me on Instagram you will see me commenting about Snow White and how I’ve been able to relate to her more. I’m talking to animals and I even got to sing into a well on an outing to Ringwood state park! Follow me on Instagram and you’ll see the moments.
Here is a list I’ve compiled for those looking to bird watch. I have been to some of these, and hope to visit all of them. But if you enjoy bird watching, grab your binoculars and/or camera and explore these spots throughout Northern New Jersey and New York.
Here are things to keep in mind to bring when bird watching:
Binoculars, if you don’t have then a camera with a good zoom
Jacket or windbreaker, depending on the season
Also, check the website for all updated operational hours. Save this pin to remember these spots!
Known bird watching spots I’ve been:
1. Celery Farms in Allendale, New Jersey
This oasis has a great walking loop tucked away in Allendale, New Jersey. Be mindful when you put it into GPS it might bring you down a side street, that is not an entrance. You need to park at the parking lot on Franklin Turnpike, it is across the street from Allison Court.
The location is 107 acres of freshwater and a 1.2-mile walking loop. On this loop, three observation lookouts are perfect to look for the many different birds that frequent this area. According to the website, 240 specifies of birds can be seen here depending on the season and 50 species of birds breed here.
2. Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, NJ
This location is stunning! If you are an avid bird watcher, you might have been here already or heard of this location. Now don’t be alarm driving here, you will get off the highway and go by Medieval Times, but don’t be alarmed, the end of the road will bring you to this amazing oasis. There are wonderful walking paths that are great for all ages. You can come dress casually and wear comfortable shoes.
Pick up a map at the welcome hut in the parking lot. You’ll be guided to so many different paths that you could spend a whole morning or afternoon there. There are wonderful benches along the way to see all different birds and gardens for your enjoyment. You can enjoy all the wonderful birds in the area and talk to fellow bird watchers tolerant of them.
3. Mills Reservation in Cedar Grove and Montclair, New Jersey
The area has attracted bird watchers who observe migratory birds, such as warblers in the spring and hawks in the fall. There are no buildings in Mills Reservation. The reservation is 157.15-acres and has several walking/jogging trails.
The reservation has four major trails that branch off to numerous smaller trails. I suggest using this All Trails for reference to planning out your route before going. The Yellow trail, which is of the four main trails leads to a cliff that overlooks the New York skyline. I will say all the trails connect and think of this more for walking enjoyment then avid bird watching like Richard W. DeKorte Park,
When I went, I parked on the Montclair side and I didn't see what made it a bird-watching spot especially after my experience at Richard W. DeKorta Park. After speaking to someone about my experience, they told me I needed to enter through the Cedar Grove side. I will be making a return visit to this spot!
4. Mountainside Park in Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Tucked away at the dead-end of Mountain Ave near 287, you would never know beyond this neighborhood were hiking trails. The trail has a sign labeling all the different birds you could see on trails There is a lot of information at the sign for the start of the trail.
At some of the other parks and trails, they have a bench at the top. However, throughout the trails here, they have benches randomly throughout the park. Some you have to walk off the trail to sit on. Not all of the benches have views. After ponding why a bench was in a certain spot, it became clear to look up for different birds.
This is a spot you can enjoy a nice walk and enjoy the day. The trails here surprised me. There are six different color options for trails that you can take. Each loop into the other. The length you decide to do varies on your plan, I highly recommend taking a photo of the trail map before walking the park.
If you're looking for a challenge, take the blue trail all the way to the top. You'll get to cross a bridge and it is about a mile to the summit. At the summit, there are three different seating spots. You got options for your view!
This summit connects with the white, yellow, and blue trail. To mix things up, I suggest teaking the white trail out. It will connect to the yellow, yellow, and red, to just the yellow trail back to the parking lot. This whole loop totals to about 3 miles. You can make a short loop if you'd like.
One thing to keep in mind, the parking lot is small so street parking is an option. Be mindful of all street signs for how to park. Whichever loop you choose, happy trails, and may you see many birds!
Here is a list of other known bird watching locations that I have yet to visit but are worth noting:
Wildcast Ridge Wildlife Management Area, Rockaway, NJ
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge located in Sussex, New Jersey
The Raptor Trust, Millington, NJ
Teaneck Creek Conservancy, Teaneck, NJ.
The Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Bernardsville, Basking Ridge, and Harding Township, NJ
The Great Swamp NWR is located in Morris County, New Jersey
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary located in Summit, New Jersey
Yes, if you go on a hike, you may see different birds and you can combine those two activities. As you can see in the list above, a decent amount of these known bird watching locations have hiking trails or require walking or a hike to be able to see the birds.
I know bird watching is a unique activity, but consider bringing binoculars for your next adventure, you never know what bird you will see!
*As I come to learn and visit other bird watching locations, they will be added to the list. If you have a favorite spot, let me know in the comments below!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about bird watching for when you explore Northern New Jersey. I hope you enjoyed hearing about birdwatching! If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.