Audubon Society plans field trip in Allaire State Park

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What is “warbler neck?” The answer to this question and many others will be revealed when the Monmouth County Audubon Society hosts its annual field trip to Allaire State Park, Wall Township, on May 13.

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 8:15 a.m. in the main parking lot by the historic village. The walk through the park will end before noon, according to a press release.

“At this time of year, bird plumage is at its brightest and songs are loudest,” said Dena Temple, the trip leader.

“To hear birdsong echoing through the woods is a delight. Anyone interested in learning how to identify spring migrants by song is in for a real treat. We are never disappointed at Allaire,” Temple added, “And yes, you will definitely find out what ‘warbler neck’ is.”

While most of a bird’s year is spent trying to be invisible to predators, things change in the spring, according to the press release. The priority for birds in the spring is breeding, and birds have a variety of ways to attract a mate.

For one, most birds molt into their beautiful, colorful breeding plumage to make them more attractive to the opposite sex.

In addition, birds sing, loudly and often, in an effort to establish a territory and attract a mate. Once summer is underway, a bird’s priorities shift to nesting and raising young. Their feathers revert to the duller “basic plumage” and they sing much less, according to the press release.

The migration season brings a great variety of birds through the area and Allaire State Park is what birders refer to as a “migrant trap,” an oasis of woodland habitat surrounded by suburbs. This acts as a magnet for birds passing through, which are drawn to the plentiful food (mostly insects) and native plant cover.

The diversity of the habitat and the rich feeding grounds are especially attractive to wood-warblers, according to the press release.

“We may see and hear 15 species of warblers, several species of flycatchers, Scarlet Tanagers, and maybe Rose-breasted Grosbeak,” said Lisa Ann Fanning, co-leader and field trip chairwoman.

The trip is open to members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society and participation is free. Advance registration is not required.

Participants should bring binoculars and field guides and should dress appropriately for the weather, including clothing suitable for rain if the forecast is questionable.

The walk will take place light rain or shine. If the weather is doubtful, participants can check the organization’s website, www.monmouthaudubon.org, for any last-minute changes. Pets are not permitted.