elder couple bird watching on a sunny day

If you’re a birder or a twitcher, you already know why bird-watching is such an enjoyable — and popular — pastime for all ages. It gets you out into nature; it’s good for your mental, emotional and physical health; and it’s a great way to make new friends (like birds of a feather, bird-watchers like to flock together).

If you have no idea what a birder or a twitcher is, there’s no need to get your feathers ruffled. A birder is someone who enjoys observing wild birds in their habitat, while a twitcher seeks out specific kinds of birds, usually rare ones. And you can easily become one of them, especially if you live in New Jersey. The Garden State has some of the best bird habitats in the northeast.

So grab your bins — whoops, that’s what birders and twitchers call binoculars — and discover all the best bird-watching spots near Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Common birds you might see in New Jersey

Any bird-watcher will tell you your backyard is a perfect place to get introduced to the hobby of bird-watching. According to the website Bird Watching HQ, 408 different species of birds have been recorded in New Jersey, with the most common being the American robin. 

Yet four other species you might easily spot include the downy woodpecker, the hairy woodpecker, the American goldfinch, and the house sparrow. If you hang a hummingbird feeder in your backyard, you might catch a glimpse of the ruby-throated hummingbird, which comes in at No. 24 on Bird Watching HQ’s list.

If you head to the New Jersey shore, you might spot ospreys, great egrets, razorbills, oystercatchers and — if you’re really lucky and very patient — American white pelicans.

Best places to bird-watch around Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Once you’ve spotted all you can see from your backyard, it’s time to venture out a bit farther from home. Fortunately, if you live anywhere near Basking Ridge, you’ve got your pick of great places to go, from reservations to wildlife sanctuaries. New Jersey Audubon’s Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary is just a seven-minute drive north of Basking Ridge, but it feels like you’re deep in the welcoming woods of winged wonders. Founded in 1897, the sanctuary is one of the oldest independent Audubon societies and hosts bird walks, field trips, workshops, migration watches and a Young Birders Club.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge earns rave reviews from bird-watchers of all ages and interests for its hiking trails, plentiful birdlife and duck blinds. This 12-square-mile natural oasis is in a mostly suburban area, making it the perfect choice for migrating waterfowl to stop, rest and feed on their migration. In fact, the refuge is a migration-resting and feeding area or permanent habitat for more than 244 species of birds. It’s also less than a 15-minute drive east of Basking Ridge.

If you’re heading to the Great Swamp on White Bridge Road, you’ll conveniently pass through the southern end of Lord Stirling Park, so plan to make a stop. More than 220 species of birds have been spotted in this 950-acre park, which also has a number of well-maintained walking trails. One more tip: Once you leave Lord Stirling Park for the Great Swamp, make one more stop on the way at The Raptor Trust Bird Rehabilitation and Education Center, also on White Bridge Road. Free self-guided visits are available. Check their website to plan your visit.


A bit farther out but no less beautiful is Garret Mountain Reservation, a 40-minute drive northeast. This 568-acre park is considered a bird oasis because it’s situated almost smack-dab in the middle of urbanity. It’s a natural stopover point for migrating songbirds, including 35 species of warblers, vireos, orioles, sparrows and thrushes. Bird-watchers have made the reservation a hotspot because of easily accessible trails and almost year-round viewing, with cataloged sightings of more than 150 species.


Bird-watchers will soon flock to Fellowship Village


Naturalist, author and environmental philosopher John Muri once said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” At Fellowship Senior Living, we couldn’t agree more.


Our 72-acre campus is already stunningly scenic and wonderfully walkable for residents of all ages and abilities. Now we’re embarking on a project to increase access to parts of campus not previously accessible. Our plans include a walking trail system through our protected wetlands that will connect to existing paths and will include wide boardwalks, sitting areas and a bird blind.


If you’d like to enjoy the abundant amenities and services we offer today — with a smart plan for your future and your nest egg — maybe it’s time to fly on over to our community to see what we’re all about.


Contact us today at 908-580-3840  to tour our beautiful campus.