New Jersey Audubon launches a new, state-wide ALL THINGS BIRDS initiative to introduce New Jersey residents to the riches of their celebrated, bird-filled state.

Bernardsville, NJ – There may be a shortage of good news these days but New Jersey’s oldest conservation group is giving New Jersey residents something to celebrate: Their state’s extraordinary bird life. 

“In good times and bad times, the natural world can be counted on to engage and entertain us,” says Pete Dunne, author of over a dozen books on birds and bird watching, and New Jersey Audubon’s spokesperson.  Birds are the Natural World’s most colorful and vocal envoys.  The All Things Birds initiative intends to show New Jersey residents of all ages why the Garden State is one of the most popular bird watching destinations on earth.

“And why bird watching is North America’s second largest and fastest growing outdoor activity,” Dunne adds.

New Jersey Audubon knows a thing or two about birds.  Founded in 1897, when North America’s bird populations were crippled by habitat loss and market hunting, for over a century New Jersey Audubon has been at the center of bird study and recovery.

“Think of the All Things Birds initiative as a celebration,” trumpets Dunne.  “Today, New Jersey residents can enjoy birds and wildlife spectacles that were beyond the dreams of great granddad.  In 1890, North America’s wildlife was depleted.  Now, we’re bird rich.”

As assessed by NJ Audubon Senior Naturalist Scott Barnes: “I’ve birded all across North America but the opportunities for birding that exist in New Jersey are among the best.  Nowhere else can you enjoy so much bird diversity housed in such a small package.”  

The core of the All Things Birds initiative will be an expanded focus on New Jersey’s birds through programs, field trips, publications, and adult and children’s education.  To meet this ambition, key staff will be reassigned to two of the organization’s flagship visitor centers.

Among those who will lead the initiative are Pete Bacinski, formerly Director of the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory and Scott Barnes who is in charge of New Jersey Audubon’s travel program and the eBird website.  

“Pete and Scott are two of New Jersey’s best known and respected birders.  Their followers are legion and both use their superb field and communication skills to engage the public,” says Dunne. 

To give the All Things Birds team the latitude to meet the demands of their expanded duties, New Jersey Audubon has decided to end operations at the Society’s Sandy Hook Bird Observatory effective January 1.  But the Society will continue to host field trips at this celebrated birding hotspot–many led by Scott and Pete. 

“A great deal of thought went into closing the Sandy Hook office,” allows Dunne who has been chosen to head the All Things Bird initiative.  “Getting Scott and Pete closer to New Jersey population centers where their talents can be more widely appreciated constitutes an expansion of New Jersey Audubon’s mission.  With All Things Birds, we are drawing upon our 113 years of experience and re-dedicating ourselves to serving our core constituents–both the human and feathered kind. 

Says SHBO Director Pete Bacinski about the transition: “We look to our supporters and volunteers at SHBO for their continued support and help with this important program.  New Jersey and its avian treasures offer unlimited opportunities to pursue and explore with our membership.”

Unlimited indeed!  Being a New Jersey resident and being interested in birds might be about the luckiest thing a person can hope to be in 2011.   Since New Jersey Audubon’s founding, bird populations  have rebounded.  Once rare species like Wood Duck, Snowy Egret, Pileated Woodpecker are once again common in the Garden State.  Nearly 100 pairs of Bald Eagles now nest in New Jersey and  over 450 species of birds have been recorded here. 

“The trick is knowing when and where to find them,” Dunne cautions.  “But that’s what the All Things Birds initiative is all about.”

Leave it to New Jersey Audubon to supply the expertise.  All beginning birders need to do is bring their curiosity and high expectations. 

“The birds,” Dunne promises, “will do the rest.”  

Residents seeking information about New Jersey Audubon field trips and programs in their area are invited to NJ Audubon Website www.njaudubon.org