#ABArare - Crested Caracara - New Jersey
by Nate Swick
Hot on the heels of a state first Elegant Tern comes word of a potential state first Crested Caracara in West Windsor Township, Mercer, New Jersey. The bird was found this morning (9/8) by Vincent Nichnadowicz.
photo by Nick Delo, used with permission
The location is approximately 10 miles east of Trenton, NJ. From I-295, take NJ-33 (Mercerville-Edinburg Rd/Old Trenton Rd) east to Edinburg Dutch Neck Rd and turn left. The turn right on Village Rd to the Congregation Beth Chaim synagogue.
The bird is at the Grover Farm across from the Congregation Beth Chaim. It was in the alfalfa field and is currently in the big dead tree on the farm.
The address of the synagogue is 329 Village Road E, West Windsor Twp, NJ.
According to Boyle's Birds of New Jersey, the Garden State actually has two prior reports of this species, an almost certainly escaped bird from Middlesex County in 1976, and an unaccepted record from Sandy Hook in 2007 that "may have been of wild provenance".
Obviously provenance is a concern when dealing with any extralimital raptor, but in the last decade Crested Caracara has established a fairly strong pattern of vagrancy around the western United States, with records from South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Colorado, and several in California. In the eastern half of the continent, Massachusetts has hosted the species twice- as recently as 2007 - and Ontario has three records, most recently from James Bay in 2002. Even more, a report from Quebec just a couple weeks ago is more compelling in light of this Jersey record.