Sussex County
Birding and Nature Festival

By Donna Traylor

For a birder, New Jersey is the place to be on June 8 and 9, 2013. The annual Sussex County Birding and Nature Festival is an event you don't want to miss!

The County of Sussex, the Nature Conservancy, Sussex County Farm and Horse Show and the Sussex County Board of Agriculture have partnered to bring you a weekend of guided field trips, and nature displays to highlight birds, butterflies and dragonflies that call Sussex County home. Local experts will help visitors search out the mountains, marshes and fields for all flying critters! Birds of all kinds migrate through and to New Jersey. By late May, most of the neotropical migrants that nest are here plus, there are still stragglers in migration. Sussex County, with its great diversity of habitats and open spaces is where both the birds and the birders need to roost!

If meandering in the outdoors is not your cup of tea, stroll through the educational and vendor displays at our host location and learn about Sussex County’s abundant open spaces. Nature items will be for sale throughout the event. Weekend packages, including accommodations, walks, meals and the keynote speaker are available ­ and recommended. For those preferring to do just a single day or the Sunday banquet and speaker, packages are also available.

Sussex County in early June can boast some interesting natural statistics. Over 125 species of birds (including 25 species of warblers) and large numbers of butterflies and dragonflies can be found within the county at this time of year. With approximately 30% of the county's land mass in protected open space, including seven state parks, one state forest, numerous wildlife management areas, the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Sussex County is the place to satisfy your love of the great outdoors. The highest mountain in New Jersey (High Point at 1,803') provides a spectacular view of the Kittatinny Mountains, part of the Appalachian chain, and the rolling farmland fields below. Over 3,000 acres of agricultural grasslands are protected in one of the county municipalities ­ providing necessary habitat for species including savannah, vesper and grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks and eastern kingbirds. Forests are home to over two dozen species of woodland warblers (including blackpolls, mourning, Cerulean and blackburnian) and other neotropical migrants including veery, wood thrush, scarlet tanager, northern oriole, pileated woodpecker, and five species of owls. One of our newest wildlife management areas, know to locals as Hyper Humus is an easy walk to glean a plethora of birds, butterflies and dragonflies ­ six species of swallow, waterfowl, American bittern, sora and Virginia rail, barred owl, marsh wrens and more.

Sussex County is large ­ 525 square miles ­ and diverse. This weekend festival will whet your appetite to visit throughout the year. Field trips, lectures and other activities will start from the host site. Register for the whole weekend or just a day! This is a family event ­ bring the kids and let them explore the great outdoors. Mark your calendars for the Sussex County Birding and Nature Festival. We look forward to seeing you in Sussex County, New Jersey’s Greenest County. For information, please e-mail.

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