To date, 160 species of birds have been identified at Raritan Headwaters Association’s 170-acre Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve in Bedminster, New Jersey. That was the tally from a 3-year, weekly bird survey conducted by naturalist and lifelong birder Alan Rennie. The diversity of birds varies seasonally and reflects the variety of habitats at the Preserve including forests, meadows, ponds, streams, wetlands, and pollinator gardens. Many species are year-round residents. Others are migratory and include species that stop here on their spring migration to northern breeding grounds and several species that stay and breed. Some are winter migrants, visiting Fairview Farm from colder, northern climes. A new Birds of Fairview Farm Checklist resulting from the study was released this week and is available by clicking on the link above or as a pocket guide in our kiosk at Fairview Farm.
The seasonal checklist was created by Alan using data primarily collected by him during his weekly Monday morning bird walks conducted between May 25, 2016 and May 25, 2019. He also incorporated E-bird records beginning in 1991; Fairview Farm is a popular “hotspot” on their website. Debra Dolan, RHA director of operations, designed the pocket checklist.
Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, a former dairy farm, is well known for its many acres of perennial meadows featuring native warm season grasses and a diversity of meadow wildflowers such as goldenrods, milkweeds, asters, and Joe-pye weeds. Birds that are specialized for living in these open habitat types are declining in North America due to habitat loss. At Fairview Farm, there is an active program targeted at conservation of some of these species including Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, and American Kestrel, all of which are territorial, cavity-nesting birds. The American Kestrel, our smallest falcon, has declined in the Northeast by more than 90% over the past 3 decades. Raritan Headwaters maintains and monitors 44 bluebird/swallow nest boxes and 4 kestrel boxes on the Preserve. In addition, RHA manages the field and meadow habitats through volunteer stewardship work to remove invasive autumn olive trees and bi-annual mowing or prescribed burns to keep them from becoming overgrown with shrubs and eventually reverting to forest habitat. In some areas of the Preserve, there are active projects to promote healthy forests for species of birds and other wildlife that need forested habitat.
Fairview Farm features five miles of nature trails and is open every day from dawn to dusk. Bring your binoculars and do some bird watching while you are hiking. You are invited to join Alan Rennie on his Monday morning bird walks or enjoy other events hosted by Raritan Headwaters at the Preserve and throughout the Upper Raritan watershed. You can help support our efforts to maintain habitat for birds and other wildlife on our preserves by volunteering or making a donation to defray stewardship costs.