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Help Spot an Elusive Harbinger of Spring at Lenape Park

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UNION COUNTY, NJ - Call it a timberdoodle, Labrador twister, night partridge, or bog sucker, when the American Woodcock makes an appearance you can be sure that spring is on the way. Bird watchers are invited to gather at Lenape Park on the evenings of March 15 and March 22 for the annual Woodcock Walk event, to catch a first glimpse of this odd and reclusive species. The Woodcock Walk is sponsored by the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Among other interesting traits, the American Woodcock is known for the distinctive buzzy “peent” calls and mesmerizing airborne dances of the male.

“The American Woodcock is known as a ‘fussy little bird’ because of its need for a diverse habitat, so it’s a real source of pride to know that Lenape Park fits the bill,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “I would also like to thank our presenters for raising awareness about this unique ecotourism opportunity in the Union County parks system.”

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This year’s Woodcock Walk will be held on March 15 and March 22 at Lenape Park in Cranford. Both events start promptly at 6:15 p.m., so dress warmly and bring a flashlight.

Both events are free and open to adults and children age 10 and up with an adult. Pre-registration is required by emailing bkelly@ucnj.org.

 Participants will gather at the old trap and skeet range field house by the parking lot, at the main entrance of Lenape Park off Kenilworth Boulevard in Cranford.

Each Woodcock Walk will begin with a brief presentation hosted by birding experts Evelyn Morton and Pete Axelrod. Members of the Friends of Lenape Park will also be on hand. The group is a Union County Adopt-a-Park partner, which oversees the bluebird boxes in the park among other projects.

After the presentation, participants will head into a nearby field to listen for the bird’s unusual call, and to keep watch to catch for a possible glimpse of the male in flight.

Though part of the shorebird family, woodcocks in the eastern U.S. have evolved to live in inland forests. They roost and court in fields, forage for earthworms in dense thickets, and use hardwood forests for nesting and brooding.

For more information on activities and programs in Union County parks, and to find out about volunteering with Union County Adopt-a-Park, call 908-527-4900 or visit ucnj.org/parks.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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