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Wildlife Art, Natural History Dioramas

Having an eagle eye for nature's beauty
Having an eagle eye for nature's beauty
Friday, October 2, 2009
Last updated: Friday October 2, 2009, 5:12 PM

Ridgefield Park Patriot

Every year during the third week of September, Linda and Steve Quinn conduct a hawk watch from their Ridgefield Pak backyard to catch a glimpse of the thousands of hawks, ospreys and eagles that are migrating south as part of the annual fall migration.

For the past 13 years, the Quinns have invited friends and family to their home for a barbeque and a nature lesson on a date as close to Sept. 17 as possible. When nature-lovers Linda and Steve were first married, they realized the high number of eagles and raptors that flew over Ridgefield Park; therefore, they decided to make watching and counting birds an annual event.

"We first started this event to bring family and friends together, especially those who didn't have an awareness of our natural surroundings. So many of us would never know that here, in the middle of suburbia, you can watch some of the most beautiful birds," Steve said.

Steve, a bird-watcher since the age of 6, and Linda, a former park ranger, want others to know that enjoying nature doesn't only mean watching the Discovery Channel or traveling to exotic places like Australia and Africa. It's as simple as sitting in your backyard and looking up at the sky.

This year's event drew about 25 of the Quinn's friends. They sat in loungers and laid on blankets in the backyard with their heads perched up from noon to 5 p.m. to see the 253 raptors that flew over their Highland Place address.

They keep a guest book that, each year, documents who was at their home, how many birds are spotted and the types of birds that are seen.

While some might think staring up at the ski for a solid five hours and counting anything with wings might be difficult, the Quinns view it as a peaceful and engaging activity.

This year, they spotted nine species of raptors, including two bald eagles, two ospreys, two peregrine falcons and four kestrels.

Throughout the day, the Quinns award prizes to those who guess the correct amount of species that are seen and to the first person who spots the bald eagle, known as the center of the show.

Steve's favorite part of the whole day is "turning people on to nature," as he put it.

"People are amazed that as close as we live to New York City, we have so much nature. I like getting people to connect with nature and having them be able to relate to it, which they can, since it's so close to us," he said.

Long-time friend of the Quinn's and Village Commissioner John Anlian has participated in the hawk watch since its first year and returns year after year with his wife to enjoy the wildlife.

"Who would think that you could see such amazing wildlife from a small backyard in the middle of suburbia? This is something anyone could see in southeast Bergen County by just taking a moment or two to look up into the sky around us," Anlian said.

Although the Quinns are self-proclaimed bird lovers, they take just as much of an interest in other forms of wildlife, which is why they made their backyard a certifiable Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, if a backyard provides water, food, shelter, a place for nesting and is created with chemical free herbicides, it can become certified as a Wildlife Habitat.

Due to the Quinn's certifiable backyard, many creatures nest there, including butterflies, snakes, raccoons, possums, skunks and fish who swim in their pond. Many robins, humming-birds and cardinals always fly to their yard and pick their favorite tree to perch.

Steve said the Federation is encouraging homeowners to have their backyards certified so that all of the wildlife traveling to this area has a safe place to nest.

"We're very proud of our backyard," he said, pointing to the sign on the fence leading to the yard that reads, "National Wildlife Certified Backyard."

"We look around the yard everyday to see what creatures are back here. We love finding new ones and also love seeing animals that continue to come back."

E-mail: decicco@northjersey.com

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Direct Correspondence to:Stephen Quinn
Stephen Quinn
85 Highland Place
Ridgefield Park, NJ
USA 07660
Tel: (201) 440-5652
  Worldwide Nature Artists Group
Email: stephencquinn@aol.com
Home Page: http://www.stephencquinn.com/
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