Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Beach Nesting Birds’ Category

A Year-end Snapshot of CWF’s Beach Nesting Bird Season

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

An adult Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) looks over their chick.

Piping plovers may have left New Jersey for their wintering grounds months ago, but our staff continues to be busy assessing the results of the 2020 breeding season and making plans for ways to improve outcomes next year.

As we look back, one pattern is very clear; the piping plovers nesting at sites monitored and managed by CWF did very well in 2020. This includes 39 pairs at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (Holgate and Little Beach Units), which CWF manages on behalf of the Refuge, as well as one pair at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt. Collectively, these pairs fledged 68 chicks or 1.70 chicks per pair, well above the federal recovery goal of 1.50 and at near record levels for the Refuge. These pairs represent just under 40% of the statewide total, as a result the high productivity at CWF-managed sites helped drive the state’s overall success. For a detailed look at how piping plovers did statewide, click here for the recently released state report.

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Survey of Beach Litter Finds Many Threats to Nesting Birds

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

by Mary Emich

Plover chick next to a seabeach amaranth plant. Photo by Alice Brennan.

Despite hundreds of trash bins conveniently located on the beach, litter is still found in the sand every day. Many people enjoy their summer days at a key beach nesting bird site in Sea Girt. Beach goers leave behind trash that litters the crucial environment. These include plastic bottles, bags, cans, wrappers, straws, fishing line, etc. Plastic pollution effects the surrounding environment and wildlife that inhabits it.

At the Sea Girt beach, piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), an endangered beach nesting bird species, travels hundreds of miles to breed and nest during the summertime. This species is directly affected by the amount of litter that pollutes the beach. Every year shore birds, and many other species, ingest plastic or get entangled in fishing line which lessens their chance of survival.

Seabeach Amaranth. Photo by Meghan Kolk.

Another significant endangered species located at Sea Girt beach is seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus). This annual plant needs a healthy ecosystem free of debris to thrive every season. It is important to maintain a strong coastal habit for reproduction and population growth.

Twenty weeks of litter was collected at the Sea Girt beach with approximately 200 plastic straws, 50 plastic bags, 75 bottles, and 25 pieces of fishing line. Pollution on the beach can be prevented if patrons are mindful of properly disposing their trash at the end of their trip.

20 weeks worth of beach trash recovered from the Sea Girt beach.

Mary Emich is an assistant biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

Beach Restoration Project Shows Promise for Piping Plovers at Barnegat Light

Saturday, July 4th, 2020
Piping plover chick feeding at the restoration-created pond.  Photo courtesy of Northside Jim.

Last winter the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with Rutgers University, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Non-Game Species Program, completed the final stages of a beach restoration project in Barnegat Light State Park.

The project, which broke ground the winter before last, aimed to create more ideal habitat for the endangered piping plover away from human disturbance at Barnegat Light’s more recreationally busy beaches. This was accomplished by removing vegetation, grading dunes to be more suitable for nesting, and creating alternative feeding sites (i.e. ephemeral pools).

Now, with the beach nesting bird season at its peak and the final stages of the project complete, we can start to assess the effectiveness of the work that has been done.

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Species On The Edge 2.0 Contest Winners Honored In Live-streamed Virtual Awards Ceremony

Monday, June 29th, 2020

by Morgan Mark, CWF Intern

Virtual award ceremony participants from left to right: (top row) CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, PSEG Foundation Chairman Rick Thigpen, CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, Third Place Winner Lauren Johnson, First Place Winner Virginia Higgins, and Second Place Winner Rory Leadbeater

If you browse through social media, you will find some incredibly creative and effective ways to help imperiled wildlife. You might be compelled by calls-to-action, experience stunning photographs, or may even discover posts about New Jersey’s vulnerable species that—thanks to talented New Jersey high schoolers—got their share of screen time, likes, and retweets during the Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s (CWF) fifth annual Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media contest.

One of the winning Instagram posts by Virginia Higgins, highlighting the diets of Piping Plovers.

Over the course of 8 days, hundreds of students from across the state created Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts about animals that the CWF protects. Through campaigns that featured original artwork, photos, and infographics, contestants took the internet by storm, rose awareness about their chosen species, and garnered nearly 12,000 likes. 

The three finalists were celebrated on June 18 in a Facebook Live virtual awards ceremony. The PSEG Foundation sponsored the contest and provided scholarships to the winners.

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Ecological Lockdown for Horseshoe Crabs – A Delaware Bay 2020 Update

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Guest post by: Dr. Larry Niles

When asked to describe the ecological conditions of any one year of our 23 years of work on Delaware Bay, Humphrey Sitters, one of the first biologists to understand the value of Delaware Bay to shorebirds would respond “every year is unprecedented”. And so it seemed until this year.

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