Public Info

Union County Invites Residents to Learn About the Remarkable American Woodcock at Watchung Reservation and Lenape Park

The Union County Board of County Commissioners and the Union County Department of Parks & Recreation are pleased to announce the Woodcock Talk & Walk, a PowerPoint presentation and guided indoor/outdoor experience discussing the woodcock on Monday, March 18th at Masker’s Barn at the Deserted Village, and Thursday, March 21st, at Lenape Park. Nature aficionados and bird lovers are invited to join an informative event showcasing the American Woodcock, led by nature enthusiast Pete Axelrod.

“These events give us the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this special bird and highlight the importance of caring for our local ecosystems,” said Commissioner Chairwoman Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. “Coming together as a community to learn is crucial, empowering us all to make informed choices for the benefit of our shared natural resources. Join us in appreciating the wonders of nature and inspire everyone to take responsibility for protecting our environment.”

The annual Woodcock Talk & Walk provides seasoned birders and beginners alike with the chance to catch a glimpse of the American Woodcock and learn more about this unusual and elusive bird. The American Woodcock is known by a variety of colorful names including Timberdoodle, Labrador twister, Night partridge, Mudbat, and Bog sucker.  The species is most commonly referred to as the woodcock due to its preference for wooded areas. American Woodcocks are drawn to moist forests and require dense woodland, providing ample cover and food.

In the spring, the bird seeks out forest clearings, abandoned fields spotted with low brush or open fields next to forest edges to serve as courtship sites.  In preparation for mating, male Woodcocks establish individual territories known as singing grounds.

Perhaps the most fascinating attribute of the American Woodcock is the acrobatic courtship displays performed by the males.  As part of their mating ritual, a displaying male on the ground will emit a nasal, buzzing call referred to as a peent, to attract females. He then takes flight and ascends 200 or 300 feet. All the while, musical twittering sounds are made by the male’s wings. Afterwards, he will spiral or zigzag back to the ground while producing a liquid chirp.

Participants are advised to dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight.  The event is free and open to adults and children age 10 and up with an adult. Participants have the flexibility to attend either or both events, but must register online at

Event Details:

  • Watchung Reservation Event:
    • Date: Monday, March 18, 2024
    • Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm
    • Location: Masker’s Barn at the Deserted Village – 13 Cataract Hollow Road in Berkeley Heights
  • Lenape Park Event:
    • Date: Thursday, March 21, 2024
    • Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm
    • Location: Lenape Park – 130 Kenilworth Boulevard in Cranford

Pete Axelrod, an experienced nature enthusiast, will be leading the presentations. With a lifelong passion for the outdoors, Pete has dedicated himself to the study of Wildlife Biology and Natural History Interpretation. His widespread experience includes volunteering in avian population studies, wild bird rehabilitation, habitat restoration, and wildlife education. Pete has also been a leader in birding ventures throughout New Jersey, collaborating with organizations such as New Jersey Audubon, Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and The Raptor Trust.

For more information about the Woodcock Walk & Talk, please visit To learn more about the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation and the activities they offer, please visit