Join us February 10th at 6pm for a 45minute workshop to learn all about the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count and how you can participate. The workshop will be held in the Education Center classrooms. Then join us at the Zoo on Sunday, February 14th 7:15am as we conduct our own Great Backyard Bird Count with animal keeper, Erica. Birders should meet at the Lion statue to the right of the Main Zoo Entrance. Both events are free to the public. No advanced registration is required.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for at least 15 minutes one or more days between February 12 and 15. Record your observations at Anyone can take part in GBBC, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.



Keep an eye-out for these local species:


Northern Cardinal, songbird Cardinalis cardinalis

  • Northern cardinals are one of the few songbird species in which the females also sing. Mated pairs often duet and call back and forth.
  • Habitat: shrubby forest edges, parks, yards
  • The bright red plumage of the male cardinal is maintained by red, yellow, and orange pigments in the seeds they eat.
  • The Northern cardinal’s short, stout, cone-shape beak is perfectly adapted for cracking thick seed shells
  • Male cardinals are very territorial and will attack their reflection in glass. Many songbirds will also fly straight into glass; which will often prove to be fatal. To prevent window strikes by cardinals and many other bird species, check out these tips provided by BirdWatchingDaily.com
  • To learn more about Northern Cardinals and other songbird-s please visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website at


Hooded Merganser, Duck Lophodytes cucullatus 

  • Hooded mergansers exhibit sexual dimorphism in plumage. Males have a black and white crest and chestnut flanks while females are a dull brown with a cinnamon crest. Females need to blend in better with their environment when incubating eggs and raising young.
  • Habitat: Freshwater ponds, rivers, marshes, and protected saltwater bays
  • Hooded mergansers are diving ducks and will dive to capture fish and invertebrates. They locate their prey by sight.
  • Their legs are located far back on their body, which helps them to dive and swim with ease. This leg placement also makes them quite awkward on land.
  • Hooded mergansers nest in tree cavities and will nest in man-made nest boxes. To learn about making nest boxes for mergansers and many other bird species, visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Nest Watch website at
  • To learn more about Hooded Mergansers and other birds visit National Audubon’s website at


Cooper’s Hawk, Raptor Accipiter cooperii 

  • Their short, broad wings and long tail allow these hawks to maneuver through dense forest and capture smaller birds with ease.
  • Habitat: Wooded areas from backyards to dense forest
  • Like most hawk species, the males are significantly smaller than the females. Females tend to specialize in hunting larger prey than the males.
  • Cooper’s Hawks can easily be confused with the equally common Sharp-shinned Hawk. Cooper’s Hawks are larger and their tails are more rounded.
  • A backyard that provides food, water, and shelter for wildlife benefits all bird species that may visit. To see how you can provide beneficial habitat to birds, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitat page at
  • To learn more about birds visit the American Bird Conservancy’s website at


Northern Bobwhite, Bird in Decline Colinus virginianus 

  • Northern bobwhites are a small quail species, and are highly social. They live in groups called coveys which may consist of 3 to 20 birds.
  • Habitat: Fields, grasslands, and open pine forest
  • In good conditions, bobwhites are prolific breeders. They can produce 2 to 3 broods in a year, totaling up to 25 offspring.
  • Since the 60’s, Northern bobwhite numbers have dropped by 82%. Loss of habitat due to urbanization, changing agricultural practices, and use of pesticides have contributed to declines in bobwhite populations.
  • To learn more about what New Jersey Audubon is doing to study and protect the Northern Bobwhite in New Jersey, please Click Here.


You can help New Jersey Audubon Scientists study birds in decline in our state by becoming a Citizen Scientist. To learn more, please visit their Citizen Science website by Clicking Here.