Climate Watch: Monitoring Birds in a Changing Climate

Washington Crossing Audubon Society presents
a Virtual Program over Zoom with Kathy Dale,
National Audubon Society’s Director of Science Technology 

Holden Grant Applications Due October 15!

See Holden Grant page for more info by clicking this button

Stay Focused on the Loss of Biodiversity

Click here to read Sharyn Magee’s last “President’s Corner”

WCAS offers free Birding Field Trips, Public Programs & Supports Conservation in Central NJ

The Washington Crossing Audubon Society joins the growing calls for positive change in our country.

Our place in nature and our reliance upon it know no boundaries—racial or otherwise.  Recent events serve as a sobering reminder that the birding community is not immune to ongoing issues of inequality. The sense of equality, welcome, and belonging—attributes that draw many into the birding community—must be felt by all who venture outside to enjoy the world of birds. WCAS’s mission is to protect our natural world, including the birds we love, and connect people to it in the hope they will find solace and learn to love and protect it. The enjoyment of birds and nature is a right that belongs to all people. The WCAS board is responding to these events by seeking avenues to enhance its directives in ways that facilitate diversity and inclusivity, and we welcome comments and suggestions that help achieve this goal.

Off-leash Dogs

We love our dogs but dogs are predators and not a part of our native ecosystems. Dogs love to hunt. It is their nature, deeply embedded in their genes. Unfortunately, dogs can wreak havoc off leash in a natural setting. Ground nesting birds are especially vulnerable to dog predation. Nestlings can be taken and eggs crushed. This can happen very quickly before the dog owner can intervene. Some of our ground nesting birds are very rare and unsustainably declining. Dogs are also a hazard to roosting owls. Some years ago, a sleeping Short-eared Owl was killed by a Springer Spaniel at the Pole Farm. Please give the birds a chance by keeping your dog on leash and on the path in any park or nature preserve.

Off leash dogs can also be a hazard to people. There have been multiple instances of dog owners breaking social distancing rules to retrieve their dog. Unleashed dogs have also   jumped on people, bitten people, and attacked their pets.   Young and fragile old persons are particularly vulnerable. Please help prevent these incidents by keeping your dog on leash.

Off leash dogs can also be a danger to themselves. An off leash dog was recently attacked by coyotes at the Watersheds Institute. Coyotes consider off leash dogs a threat to their pups. If the coyotes had not run from the approaching dog owner, the dog would have been killed. The owner was fortunate that the coyotes did not turn on her. Bear and dog interactions are also possible in our area. To protect your dog on a nature preserve, please keep your dog on leash.

Leashing dogs and keeping them on paths benefits wildlife, people, and dogs. Please help us keep our preserves and parks safe for everyone.

Reporting Rare Birds

Seeing a rare and beautiful bird is exciting and birders are a sharing community.

Unfortunately the wide use of birding list-serves and apps can lead to a sighting “going viral” and as a result, too many people converging on a sensitive species.

Too much attention can cause the bird to abort its breeding attempt. Species that require a high quality understory for breeding have few options in central New Jersey. If the bird is forced to leave a suitable location, it may not find another one. Please help us retain rare and declining species as breeders by keeping them off list-serves and other highly visible media.

Please do not post the exact location of rare breeding birds, especially shy species like Kentucky Warblers.

Kentucky Warbler



Ground-nesting Birds from Coastal Beaches to Grasslands & Woodlands

Piping Plover

Worm-eating Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Kentucky Warbler


Would you like to assist in a WCAS-supported research project by dissecting Long-eared Owl pellets?

\WCAS and Wild Bird Research Group have put together an at-home citizen science activity for families trying to stay busy and engaged indoors. Participants would join our ongoing research of Long-eared Owl diets by dissecting pellets, identifying the prey inside, and sending the bones and your data back to us.

The pellets were collected from the winter roosts of wild Long-eared Owls in central New Jersey, and were heat-sterilized prior to packaging. Pellet dissection is a fun hands-on discovery and identification activity. We will be mailing packages containing pellets, instructions, data sheets, a simplified identification resource, and a pre-paid return envelope. 

IMPORTANT: All the bones and data from your pellet dissections are needed for our research, so once you’re finished, all you have to do is put the materials into the return envelope and put them in your mailbox. We would be grateful for a donation of $5 with the return envelope to cover shipping expenses. Recommended for ages 8+.  

If you would like to participate, send an email stating your interest to Wild Bird Research Group at [email protected]

See Carolina Biological Supply Company’s pellet dissection guidelines for important safety information:

Navigate to Field Trip Meeting Places

Click Here” button on Home Page Slider (above), or click the event in WCAS Calendar page, to find WCAS’ Field Trip & Public Programs meeting locations.

Even have Google Maps give you live driving directions on your smart phone!

For more info see Navigating with Google Maps

Check out WCAS Birding Hot Spots page!
We have links to maps and descriptive info for many popular birding locations. Go to top menu > “Where to Bird” > Birding Hot Spots  Scroll down to see map at the bottom. The map has pins for most of our field trip locations.


Unique Opportunity to see Upland Sandpipers and other rare grassland birds at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

Two trips will be held on Wednesday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 17 with rain date the following days. Preference will initially be given to Washington Crossing Audubon Society and Princeton University Bird Club members who would be first time visitors. Beginning in April the trip will be opened up to the entire birding community. Space is limited. Please contact Vincent Nichnadowicz  (click on name at left to launch an email) for more information and to sign up. Because of security reasons YOU MUST BE A U.S. CITIZEN TO ATTEND THIS TRIP.

Reporting Sensitive Species


Roosting owls are particularly vulnerable to disturbance.  Nesting eagles should not be approached too closely. The exact location of any nest of a threatened, or endangered species or a species of conservation concern should not be given.   However records of these birds are critical in conservation efforts.

Long-eared Owl NJ State Threatened © Sharyn Magee


WCAS and eBird developed a protocol for reporting sensitive species after roosting Long-eared Owls were harassed at the Pole Farm. The protocol suggests that the exact location not be reported and that the entry be delayed or hidden. Unfortunately, this protocol has broken down with the use of the eBird app. People report sightings in real time at the exact location. These sightings end up on eBird alerts. A delay of a week would keep the records off the eBird alerts.

e-Bird Guidelines for reporting sensitive species

WCAS enters roosting owls after April 1.  The records are then available for conservation purposes but the owls have moved on. WCAS prefers not to hide records because WCAS relies on eBird records for conservation support and hidden records are not available for conservation. The best approach is to delay reporting to eBird using a general location but immediately report the exact location of the sighting to the NJ Fish and Wildlife Commission using the Rare Wildlife Sightings Form .

Northern Saw-whet Owl © Tyler Christensen

Washington Crossing Audubon Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the enjoyment and protection of birds, wildlife, and the environment through education, research, and conservation.

Washington Crossing Audubon Field Trip to Institute Woods, Princeton © Tyler Christensen

Experienced birders from Washington Crossing Audubon lead regular birding field trips in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, visiting some of the region’s top birding hotspots.

Chestnut-sided Warbler © Tyler Christensen

Washington Crossing Audubon supports several active research projects, including funding two bird monitoring sites here in central New Jersey and in the Central American country of Costa Rica.











Upcoming Talks

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Birding Hot Spots!