UNION COUNTY, NJ — Local bird watchers and nature lovers are invited to join Pete Axelrod of Friends of The Great Swamp for the annual Woodcock Talk & Walk workshop on Monday, March 20, at the Watchung Reservation starting at 6:30 p.m
“The Talk & Walk event gives our residents the opportunity to learn about the American Woodcock and test their bird watching skills on the Watchung Reservation,” said Union County Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “This amazing bird requires many different habitats to survive, and we are proud that our Union County parks play a role in preserving and protecting it.”
Participants will meet at Masker’s Barn in the Deserted Village of Feltville, in the Berkeley Heights section of the Watchung Reservation. Masker’s Barn is located at the end of Cataract Hollow Road in the Deserted Village. GPS users can plug in “13 Cataract Hollow Road, Berkeley Heights” and follow the road to the end).
The event is free and open to adults and children ages 10 and older accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required by completing an online form at ucnj.org/parks-recreation/woodcock-walk-talk.
Hosted by the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, the annual Woodcock Talk & Walk gives seasoned birders and novices alike the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the American Woodcock and learn more about this unusual and elusive bird.
The American Woodcock is known by a variety of colorful names including Timberdoodle, Labrador Twister, Night Partridge, Mudbat and Bog Sucker. The species is most commonly referred to as the Woodcock because of its preference for wooded areas.
The American Woodcock is attracted to moist forests and requires dense woodland, which provides adequate cover and food. In the spring, the bird seeks out forest clearings, abandoned fields with low brush or open fields along forest edges to serve as courtship sites. In preparation for mating, male Woodcocks establish individual territories known as singing grounds.
The most amazing feature of the American Woodcock is the acrobatic courtship displays displayed by the males. As part of their mating ritual, a displaying male on the ground will emit a nasal, buzzing call referred to as a peent, to attract females. Then he took off and climbed 200 or 300 feet. All the while, musical twittering sounds are made by the male wings. Then, he will circle or zigzag back to the ground while making a liquid chirping sound.
The Talk & Walk event will begin with a short presentation on the American Woodcock at the Masker’s Barn. The performance is followed by a short hike of approximately 1,000 feet to a nearby meadow, where participants can listen for the telltale sound of the Woodcock.
Participants are advised to dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes and carry a flashlight.
For more information on Union County parks activities and programs, visit ucnj.org/parks or call 908-527-4900.
Complete details about the Deserted Village are available at ucnj.org/dv.