Conserve Wildlife Blog

February 12th, 2016

Shutterbugs: “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest Now Open!

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest will run from February 12, 2016 to March 25, 2016

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager 

Photo contest promo2

New Jersey might be the most densely populated state, but it is also home to a diverse array of wildlife. From bobcats in the north to Eastern tiger salamanders in the south, many different species of wildlife live in the variety of habitats found in New Jersey. Our photography contest is meant to showcase the love for and need to protect the endangered and threatened wildlife that call New Jersey home.

 

The “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest is free to enter! Two grand prize winners — one youth and one adult winner — will receive $250. The People’s Choice Winner will win a canoe trip for two on the Batsto River in Wharton State Forest courtesy of Pinelands Adventures.

 

Submit your photos by 8 PM on Friday, March 25, 2016 in the following categories:

  • New Jersey’s Rarest Residents: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife Species Only
  • The Garden State: New Jersey Landscapes
  • Experiencing Nature: People Enjoying the Outdoors
  • Wild New Jersey: All Animals in the Garden State

 

For official contest rules and entry form, visit Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

February 11th, 2016

CWF Headed to Honduras to Study Golden-winged Warbler

CWF biologist Kelly Triece to visit Honduras to observe Golden-winged Warblers in their Wintering Habitat

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny Golden.

Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny Golden.

CWF is headed down to Central America to see one of New Jersey’s native songbirds! This time of year the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) is in Central and South America. The GWWA is Neotropical Migrant songbird that breeds in New Jersey, but migrates south for the winter. This songbird is a species of special conservation concern in the U.S. and endangered in New Jersey, experiencing population declines due to loss of young forest habitat.

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologist Kelly Triece will be traveling to Honduras next week to observe the GWWA in its wintering habitat. While she is there, she will be learning more about the wintering habitat requirements of the Golden-winged Warbler as well as the current threats and challenges facing the species in this part of the world.

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

The management of early successional habitat, or young forest habitat, is important in New Jersey because it provides breeding habitat and post-fledging habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler. In the past 30 years, over 11,000 acres of upland shrub and emergent wetland habitat have been lost to succession in New Jersey.

 

Today, 80% of New Jersey forests are between 60-99 years old, while only 5% of the forests are between 0-19 years old. In a naturally occurring system, where fire, wind, flooding and other disturbances are not controlled by humans, this age class would be more evenly distributed. Through management and proper forestry techniques, more diversity can be created to balance the age of the forest.

 

The Golden-winged Warbler is not the only scrub-shrub dependent bird species considered to be at-risk. About 85% of shrub obligate birds and 35% of forest birds are on the decline in North America. Some of the declining species are Prairie Warbler, Field Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite and American Woodcock. Additionally, woodland breeding birds are also at risk because many rely on young forest habitat for post-fledging. Therefore, the management of young forest habitat is not only specific to the Golden-winged Warbler, it is also important for many other avian species. Furthermore, other wildlife such as insects, reptiles and mammals will benefit from increased flowering plants and foraging habitat.

 

CWF and our partners Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and New Jersey Audubon Society have worked with private landowners to create or restore over 225 acres of Golden-winged Warbler habitat since 2012 in New Jersey. Our managed forests have a statistically significant higher diversity of birds than unmanaged sites!

 

Stay tuned for Photos from the Field next week as Kelly travels to Central America!

 

Learn More:

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

February 8th, 2016

Volunteers Wanted! Amphibian Crossing Project

Interested in Helping Amphibians Cross the Road this Spring?

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Spotted Salamander Crosses a busy road to reach a nearby breeding pool. Photo by Kelly Triece

Spotted Salamander Crosses a busy road to reach a nearby breeding pool. Photo by Kelly Triece

Amphibians, our harbingers of spring, are soon to be calling in the swamps, pools and woodlands of New Jersey. Thousands of salamanders, frogs, and toads make short, stealthy migrations through the forest to breed and lay their eggs in breeding pools every spring.

 

However, vehicle mortality during amphibian migration season is a big issue for small animals like amphibians. A single vehicle can harm dozens of the slow-moving animals as they try to cross the road during migration. High traffic volumes can wipe out entire populations over time. For Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologists, this means we will be out on the roadways helping secure safe passage for these amphibians.

 

Since 2002, we have worked to protect early-spring breeding amphibians like the wood frog, spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, and spring peeper during their annual migrations. Last year at our biggest Amphibian Crossing site, we assisted 2,684 Spring Peepers, 1,100 Spotted Salamanders, 270 American Toads, 139 Wood Frogs, 95 Jefferson Salamanders and 18 Red-spotted newts cross the road!

 

The Amphibian Crossing Project relies on volunteers like you. Amphibian migration is completely weather-dependent, but usually occurs between March and April, three-five nights a year. We work in evening shifts and scan the road for crossing amphibians, record species, and number of animals crossing.

 

If you are interested in volunteering with our Amphibian Crossing Project at locations in North Jersey, please contact Kelly Triece. Volunteers must be 18 years or older.

A volunteer assists in CWF Amphibian Crossing Project. Photo by Kelly Triece.

A volunteer assists in CWF Amphibian Crossing Project. Photo by Kelly Triece.

 

The Amphibian Crossing Project aims to secure funding for amphibian crossing tunnels at two priority sites. This is part of a larger effort led by the Division of Fish and Wildlife called Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ). CHANJ aims to identify key areas and actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey.  CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. #CHANJiscoming

 

Stay tuned as the amphibian attempts to cross the road once again!

 

Learn More:

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

February 5th, 2016

Puzzle Pieces: Connecting Habitat for New Jersey’s Wildlife

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) and Strategic Habitat Conservation

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

In New Jersey and throughout the world, almost every ecosystem is under some degree of disturbance caused by human impact. In particular, urbanization and deforestation often have negative consequences on ecosystems because they typically lead to overall habitat loss. A reduction in available habitat creates habitat fragmentation, where an ecosystem becomes segmented and broken apart. Habitat fragmentation can have multiple negative effects on wildlife, including dispersal, genetic isolation, and community structure impacts. Here in New Jersey, wildlife species are up against steady urbanization and a dense network of roads compromising the connectivity of habitat and wildlife populations. Today, the state of New Jersey remains the most densely populated state in the country occupying about 39,000 miles of public roads.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

In order to maintain diversity and sustain healthy wildlife populations, we must connect various fragmented habitats and wildlife communities. Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Without that ability to move, healthy populations cannot persist over the long term. In order to curb the effects of roads and habitat fragmentation, wildlife road crossing structures can be installed to reduce wildlife road mortality. In addition, wildlife habitat corridors can be prioritized for land management, restoration and acquisition.

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality ©Kelly Triece

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality © Kelly Triece

What is New Jersey doing to create habitat connectivity for our state’s diverse wildlife?

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) was formed in 2012 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, with the vision of making our landscape and roadways more permeable to wildlife movement. CHANJ represents a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation that will identify key areas and the actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey. CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. Connecting populations of wildlife will improve gene flow and allow wildlife to move freely throughout the landscape.

 

How can you help?

  • Be mindful of wildlife while driving: Peak wildlife crossing season occurs in the spring and summer as wildlife travel to find food and mates. If wildlife such as amphibians and turtles are on the road, safely pull over and carry them to the shoulder in their direction of travel. Always be mindful of safety and do not attempt to handle any wildlife if you are not comfortable.
  • Create wildlife friendly backyard habitats: learn more on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

February 4th, 2016

Photos from the Field

Productive Trip to North Jersey Falcon nests

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Kathy Clark, ENSP Wildlife Biologist and myself made use of our trip to North Jersey on Tuesday. Both being based out of S. Jersey, we try to maximize our productivity and time spent up north. We visited a total of three peregrine falcon nest sites to conduct winter maintenance at them. Winter maint. is in preparation for the start of their nesting season, which usually begins in mid-late March. Eggs are usually laid in late March-early April. On the list for usual maint. (which we do at over 12 nest sites throughout NJ) is to refresh gravel, treat for parasites, and check condition of predator guards (for those sites on former hacking towers). At the sites we visited yesterday, we had some additional work.

Our first stop was at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth. While fixing up the nestbox on the roof, we also helped with the installation of a new pinhole camera that was installed on the inside wall. The camera, paid for and installed by Union County, will stream online soon. CWF will help to promote the camera and our own Peregrine Falcon Cam curriculum. The female that nests here was not seen as we would have known since she is overtly aggressive to anyone who climbs onto the roof there. It could be the same female but it was odd that she was not seen at all. In addition, Kathy photographed the male who is banded (likely in NY – you can tell by the silver band he wears – we use black in NJ). The previous male was not banded. So, there could be a whole new pair here. Only time will tell if this site will be active this year. Having the camera there will help biologists learn about the turnover and if eggs are in turn laid by the female.

Second, we visited the Jersey City eyrie. There we removed the pinhole camera to get repaired/replaced. Then we painted the inside of the nestbox, which was showing its age and a good covering of guano. The female Juliette was there and not quite sure of our presence. Since she has not nested here yet, she does not attribute our presence with any kind of disturbance. This will change when she has young to protect.

Our last visit was to the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station. Here we moved a new nestbox from one building to another. The story of this site is where young falcons were found on the ground after attempting to fledge a few years ago. Their nest site was found to be in an old and unused duct which was accessed by an open window on the north side of the building. Then last year the pair attempted to nest on a tiny ledge on the south side of the building, but the nest was flooded. Our site visit revealed that there was a suitable ledge above the tiny ledge and we moved the nestbox here. This will give them the best chance of successfully raising young. PSE&G staff were very willing to help and are proud that their generating is home to a pair of nesting falcons!

Cameras/photography can be used to document new birds at nest sites. This is a new male peregrine falcon (yet to be ID'd) at the Union County Courthouse. The previous male was not banded. Photo by Kathy Clark/ENSP

Cameras/photography can be used to document new birds at nest sites. This is a new male peregrine falcon (yet to be ID’d) at the Union County Courthouse. The previous male was not banded. Photo by Kathy Clark/ENSP

Kathy and I atop the Union County Courthouse. Photo by Betty Ann Kelly.

Kathy and I atop the Union County Courthouse. Photo by Betty Ann Kelly.

Prey remains atop the Union County Courthouse. Can you ID it? Photo by Ben Wurst

Prey remains atop the Union County Courthouse. Can you ID it? Photo by Ben Wurst

Juliette on a perch atop 101 Hudson St. Photo by Ben Wurst

Juliette on a perch atop 101 Hudson St. Photo by Ben Wurst

The inside of the Jersey City nestbox got a new paint job.

The inside of the Jersey City nestbox got a new paint job.

Our last stop of the day was at the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station where we moved a nestbox to a new location at the plant. It was placed directly above a narrow ledge that the birds nested on last year. Photo by Ben Wurst

Our last stop of the day was at the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station where we moved a nestbox to a new location at the plant. It was placed directly above a narrow ledge that the birds nested on last year. Photo by Ben Wurst

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