I have written here quite frequently about how birds are changing their ranges presumably because of a changing climate. As the earth gets warmer, birds that have normally lived in more tropical climes are moving farther and farther north. I've seen many examples of this in my own yard.
Prior to the summer of 2006, there were no White-winged Doves in my yard. They just didn't exist in this neighborhood. The only ones I had seen were on the grounds around the Houston Museum of Natural Science. But in July of that year, a single bird showed up at my front yard feeder. The next year, 2007, there were a few of the birds around my yard. In 2008, my White-wing population exploded and since then it has been the dominant dove in my yard.
It has been much the same story with the Crested Caracara. Five years ago, they were not often seen in this area. Today, you are likely to see one at the sight of any road kill right along with the Black and Turkey Vultures. They have become fairly common and recognizable to even casual birders.
So we know that this formerly mostly Mexican bird, the Crested Caracara, is expanding its range. But to New Jersey??? It seems so!
John of A DC Birding Blog reported yesterday that a caracara has been reported on a farm in New Jersey and it has been seen and photographed by several birders. Surprisingly, this was not the first of the birds to be seen in the state. At least two others had been sighted there in the past but they had not been accepted by the state authority as official sightings because there was doubt as to whether they were truly wild birds and just how they had come to be there. There seem to be no such doubts about this bird's origins. There is speculation that the bird might have been pushed northward by hurricane activity, especially Hurricane Isaac, but it seems likely that this bird will be accepted as the first official state sighting of a wild caracara. In New Jersey!