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Bird Watching in the Pine Barrens

New Jersey provides some of the most varied and exciting birding in North America.


birding through binoculars
Bird watching in the Pinelands.

New Jersey provides some of the most varied and exciting birding in North America, and more than 450 species of birds have been recorded in the state. Many of these species can be seen within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve.

The 1.1 million-acre New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve contains the largest remaining wilderness on the Eastern Seaboard between Maine and the Florida Everglades. It also lies along the important north-south Atlantic Flyway for migrating birds. The Pinelands has a wide variety of habitats, from the headwaters of its river systems down to its bays and shorelines. Many bird species that rely on the estuary systems benefit directly from the clean water flowing from the Pine Barren streams and rivers into the coastal estuaries.

Birding is one of the many enjoyable activities that people of all ages and abilities can take part in to gain a greater understanding of our natural world and the Pinelands.

Getting Started

Perhaps the best way to get started is to find a friend who is a birder or join a group that organizes bird walks. Borrow a pair of binoculars and a birding field guide. After your first outing or two, you may find that you have discovered a new hobby that you can enjoy with friends and family for years to come!

One fun place to get started is the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR (Brigantine Unit) Visitor Center.  It is perhaps the most frequently visited birding location in the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve. Forsythe runs free bird walks every Friday morning and they have binoculars to loan out. This is a great location for both novice and expert birders alike!

Before long, you may decide it is time to invest in your own pair of binoculars and a field guide. Here is some information to point you in the right direction.

Field Guides

There are many excellent print and mobile app Field Guides available. Some use illustrations and others use photos to help the user identify birds when in the field. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Pine Warbler Bird
Pine Warbler

Choosing a pair of binoculars is an important purchase decision. Finding the right pair for you depends on a number of personal factors, the type of birding you plan to do and your budget. It is best to do your research, get some expert advice and try out a few pairs before making your final decision. An 8 x 42 pair of binoculars is the most popular choice for birding. Here are some resources to help you make your decision.

Where To Go

With 1.1 million acres to explore in the NJ Pinelands National Reserve, where do you begin?

Armed with your field guide and binoculars, you can choose any convenient location to get started. However, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird can make your decision on the best places to go much easier. Over 100 million bird sightings around the world are recorded by fellow eBird birders each year. From this extensive database, you can find out what birds to expect throughout the year in a region or location using their Bar Charts. You can also discover the best places for birding by Exploring Hotspots.

Here are a few of the more popular Hotspots by county within the NJ Pinelands National Reserve:

Burlington County
Ocean County
Atlantic County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Camden County
Gloucester County

The Pinelands presents numerous birding opportunities throughout the year. So, get out and see how many different bird species you can find. In the process, you will find yourself discovering and exploring many new, exciting locations.

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