Teaneck Greenway has joined with Bergen Audubon Society to create the Frank Chapman trails in Brett Park. Here is an article on Chapman from the BAS spring/summer 2019 newsletter.
A TRIBUTE TO FRANK M CHAPMAN , by Steve Quinn, BCAS member, artist, author, naturalist, diorama and exhibit specialist at the American Museum of Natural History.
Frank Chapman was the father of the very first CBC (Christmas Bird Count) in Central Park in 1900 to combat the Christmas tradition at that time of going into the field for a “holiday hunt” with the goal of shooting as many birds of whatever species as possible. Chapman was a champion for protecting birds from the millinery trade and successfully fought for the legislation to protect all birds from the “feather trade”. He, famously, took a Sunday stroll on 5th Avenue in the early 1900s and identified 40 species of birds from the feathers on the hats and stoles of the fashionably dressed women he passed. He wrote about this in an effort to discourage those wearers of bird feathers. In so doing he saved the demise of birds like the Snowy Egret. His Hall of North American Birds in the American Museum of Natural History was the first major exhibition hall to use the “Habitat Diorama” as it’s sole means of displaying specimens. Chapman started the protocol that these exhibits MUST depict REAL places and, to that end, he would send and accompany a team of ornithologists and artists into the field to collect the specimens, accessories and visual references to recreate the scene, with it’s painted background, back in NY at the museum. He used his “Pelican Island” diorama to appeal directly to then President Theodore Roosevelt to create the very first “Federal Bird Reserve” in the US. Roosevelt, under Chapman’s guidance, would go on to create a total of 51 Federal Bird Reserve’s during his Presidency. The “Federal Bird Reserve” system would eventually become the Federal US Fish and Wildlife Service with hundreds of what would then be called “Federal Wildlife Refuges”. His “Great Egret” diorama and “Cuthbert Rookery” dioramas were created in the early 1900 and used to urge protection of these birds and the outlawing of plume-hunting. The site chosen for the “Cuthbert Rookery” diorama was the very place where Guy Bradley, under Chapman’s urging, was hired by the Audubon Society as the first warden to protect nesting herons and waterbirds from plume hunters. He was shot and killed by a notorious plume hunter. Bradley became the first martyr for the wildlife conservation cause and Chapman honored him with his own diorama. Most of the sites of the dioramas featured in Chapman’s original 1902 Hall of North American Birds are now National Parks, Bird Sanctuaries, or National Wildlife Refuges! One, the “Hackensack Meadowlands” diorama is of particular interest to Bergen County residents as it depicts a site along the Hackensack River at Little Ferry as it appeared in 1902, prior to the damming of the Hackensack River at Oradell to create the Oradell Reservoir. The diorama depicts a very different habitat which is much more of a fresh-water wetland due to the unobstructed flow of freshwater coming down the Hackensack in those earlier times. The diorama depicts extensive stands of cattails and wild rice populated by flocks of Bobolinks, Soras, and Wood ducks. A very different wetland today which is much more influenced by the salt water tides coming farther up the river due to the halting of freshwater upstream at the Oradell Dam.
Chapman was born in Teaneck, was a founder of the American Ornithological Union, and The Audubon Society. His popular nature magazine called “Bird Lore” would eventually become “Audubon Magazine”. He wrote the first popular field guide for birdwatching as he knew that popularizing birdwatching would be a critical step in generating concern among the public for their protection. I believe he was also very influential in the creation of the Lacey Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both from the early 1900s. In his memoirs he writes about birding in Teaneck and Englewood with famous nature writer John Burrows, and catching native Brook Trout in Teaneck’s streams. Descriptions of the wonders that were the Overpeck marshes. I’ve just scratched the surface of only a small part of Chapman’s accomplishments and contributions to ornithology, bird conservation and popular birdwatching. Truly Chapman was the most famous birder, conservationist, and ornithologist from Bergen County! _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Note: If you would like to see the dioramas and other info about Chapman, go to "Steve Quinn tells story of dioramas of Frank Chapman" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6j72hPC7E The Editor