click on the Rutgers Ovenbird for a
flyer on the birds of Rutgers Newark
Urban Nature at Work
What you see today in the two large planters on the Norman Samuel Plaza of Rutgers Newark is the result of work to improve our campus’ urban biodiversity. This habitat may look a bit unkempt at different times during the year, but allowing a part of our campus to become (more) wild allows us to host a rich diversity of plants and animals.
Rutgers-Newark students, in collaboration with the Greater Newark Conservancy, have worked to create these "gardens" during annual Earth Day celebrations. More than 100 bird* and 120 different plant species now depend on this urban wildland habitat, and the numbers are increasing.
*of the 143 species we found on our campus so far
More info (click on link):
- Where to watch birds on Campus (March 2015 article on New Jersey Audubon eBird portal)
- Rutgers Newark Bird Checklist (via eBird.org)
Rutgers University Newark - a trap or haven for migratory birds?
Have a closer look around campus in spring or fall and you might find birds sneaking around the trees and shrubs in desperate search of food. Over the past years we actually identified 130 species of birds, among those unusual ones like Woodcocks and Merlin falcons. Most of these are migrants that stop only briefly here on their way south. Who is not envious: what a great idea to leave the winter behind and spend some quality time in warmer climates?
Why do birds migrate? Easy answer, we think and assume that they do it in order to flee our nasty cold winter. Think again: in the case of the Neotropical migrants - birds that nest in the North and fly long-distance to winter in the tropics - it may be actually the opposite. For instance the wood warbler species we might see on campus originated in the tropics and today – ever since after the ice age left us – are using the northern latitudes only for their summer vacation. New Jersey and other northern regions are good places to raise offspring and to avoid the crowded tropics, but obviously not a great choice of place to live permanently. Still want to be a bird? Migration seemed to pay off, however this journey has is perils. Birds have to spent huge amount of energy and seem to be always close to starvation. Predators wait for them, glass fronts of buildings can be death traps and there is always the problem of bad weather. Long-lasting cold fronts during the fall migration will typically stall a great number of migrants. Bad weather in general will bring down numbers of nocturnal migrants. Any place with many trees, especially within larger inner city “deserts” will then act as a migrant trap. Last October we saw exceptional large groups of migratory birds on campus, a so called “fall-out” took place. You might recall tens of tiny, cute birds foraging on the grass lawns. Most of these were Kinglets, the smallest among the migrant that touch down on campus.
Still want to be a bird? A rhetorical question, I know. But we can still seek them out and enjoy looking at them. With luck we will even witness another fall-out. So if you are interested, we are typically conducting bird walks in May and October every Wednesday morning at 7:45-8:30, rain or shine. (see updates on that here). What a better way to start the day and to beat the traffic and our notoriously full parking lots? Meet us at the campus side entrance of Boyden Hall
(* bring your own binoculars)
The following images are just a taste of what we see on our bird walks
(honestly, all pictures were taken on campus!)