Featured image “Walking Path” 2020 Third Place Photo Contest Winner by JT Durning

Wildlife at Grover Cleveland Park


Grover Cleveland Park is home to a wide array of wildlife including cormorants, great blue herons, ducks and ducklings, pileated woodpeckers, other birds, fox, raccoon, rabbits, squirrels, deer, turtles, frogs, toads, trout and sunfish. Visitors are encouraged to look, but not touch, the wildlife. If you see an injured animal or one that is behaving erratically, call the police.

If you bring a dog to the park, please keep it leashed to protect wildlife, people and other pets.

An excerpt from Illustrated Highlights of a Century: Grover Cleveland Park 1913 – 2013 by Richard Cummings and Warren Marchioni.

“The cycle of the seasons creates a changing tableau of plants, animals and fungi for the amateur naturalist. A variety of ecosystems – running water in the brook, the pond, meadows and forest – can be observed and explored. It would be safe to say that using a keen eye and ear, a visitor could experience something new every day by spending even a brief time in the park.

Many of the larger animals cannot be supported by the confines of the park and so are transients. Deer, red foxes, wild turkeys, rabbits, mice, voles, raccoons, skunks, opossums are regularly sighted in the park. And squirrels are numerous in the park.

Red-tailed hawks frequently fly low throughout the park and have been spotted on the peak of the Children’s House. The pileated woodpecker, now considered to be the largest woodpecker in North America, may be seen during the summer. Of course, flocks of robins, crows, blackbirds hover and flit throughout the park.

Near the pond, red-winged blackbirds make their nest each Spring. Just don’t get too close or you will be dive-bombed by parents protecting their nests.”

Fish in the Pond

Fish are regularly stocked by the NJ Fish Hatchery in Hackettstown. The fish that are regularly seen include Black Crappie, Pumpkinseed, Carp, Catfish, Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, and Sunfish.

The pond contains a variety of interesting fish, including carp…

Woodpecker by JT Durning

… and largemouth bass.

Heron by Serge Goldobin

… and rainbow trout.

Wildlife Around the Pond

The Great Blue Heron returns several times annually. He fishes in the pond and sits in the trees surrounding the pond. His stately demeanor attracts everyone to stop to watch and snap an image.

The cormorants also visit regularly in the Summer. Sometimes alone or in pairs it is fascinating to watch them dive, swim underwater for 20-30 feet and surface with a fish.

The Wood Ducks nest each Spring in the tall trees around the pond. It is a spectacle to watch the fledglings fall from the 25–50-foot heights – they learn to fly on the way down. Everyone waits for the newly hatched Mallard ducklings each Spring. They are so cute as they learn to climb to and from different sections of the brook following Mama everywhere.

In early summer evenings, you can hear the croaking of frogs at the pond’s edge. In the last several years, there has been a chorus as frogs inhabit various sections of the pond.

Sometimes you can see up to 10 turtles sunning themselves on the turtle float. All sizes share the float from tiny to large snapping turtles. At various times during the year, Canada Geese stop at the pond. There have been up to 75 geese counted during the summer. Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs contracts with a goose chaser for all the parks.

  • Birds

  • Squirrels

  • Ducks & Geese

  • Fish


Eastern gray squirrel enjoying an early morning snack.

Woodpecker by JT Durning

Pileated Woodpecker tapping for food.

Heron by Serge Goldobin

Great Blue Heron visits and fishes regularly during the summer.