Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Join CWF Biologist Todd Pover For Special Screening of Acclaimed Piping Plover Documentary, “Monty & Rose”

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

The titular Monty of the duo Monty & Rose.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is proud to present a special event screening of Monty & Rose: The Story of Chicago’s Piping Plovers.

Join us on March 18, 2021 at 7pm, for a virtual presentation of the 23-minute documentary hosted by “Monty and Rose” director Bob Dolgan and CWF Senior Biologist Todd Pover. This will mark the film’s first screening on the East Coast!

Written and directed by Bob Dolgan, “Monty and Rose” tells the story of a pair of endangered piping plovers that nested at Chicago’s Montrose Beach in the summer of 2019, becoming the first of the species to nest in the city since 1955. With a music festival scheduled to take place within feet of the plovers’ nest site, volunteers, advocates, and biologists get to work in order to protect the vulnerable pair. The documentary follows these efforts, including interviews with those there to help this special pair nesting on one of the busiest beaches in Chicago.

The screening will include an introduction to “Monty and Rose” provided by the director prior to the film screening. After the film, Bob Dolgan and Todd Pover will host an audience Q&A and conversation about the film, piping plovers, and beach nesting birds!

One lucky participant will also be chosen at random to win a Piping Plover Prize Pack! Prizes include a newly designed CWF PIPL hat and other assorted beach nesting bird goodies to be shipped right to your home.

We hope you’ll join us for an evening celebrating piping plovers and those who work to protect them.

About the Hosts:

Bob Dolgan is a life long birder and filmmaker from Chicago. He’s the founder of Turnstone Strategies, author of the This Week in Birding newsletter, and a past Board Member of Chicago Ornithological Society.

Todd Pover has been involved in research, monitoring, and management of beach nesting birds for over 25 years in New Jersey and other portions of the flyway. He heads up the CWF beach nesting bird project and leads our Bahamas piping plover wintering grounds initiative.

Watch the Official “Monty and Rose” Trailer:

Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration gets a “Touch-up”

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

A bulldozer trims back vegetation as a part of maintenance at the Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site.

Even though all the major construction at our Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site was complete over the past two winters, CWF returned in January 2021 to help oversee a “touch up”.  Beach nesting birds, such as piping plovers, prefer open, lightly vegetated beaches to nest, and in two years the vegetation had filled in quickly at the site. Using a bulldozer, the thicker vegetation was trimmed back or as the machine operator said, we gave it a “haircut”.

At the same time, the shallow edges of the foraging pond were enhanced. The pond, in particular a portion engineered to mimic “foraging flats”, was a key part of the success of piping plovers during the 2020 breeding season. We were able to expand that feature in hopes of providing even more high value foraging opportunities in years to come.

Initial construction was obviously the most important step to make this long-anticipated project a reality, but ongoing maintenance is an important part of any restoration, as habitat, especially in the dynamic coastal zone, rarely remains static. Still, follow-up maintenance is often overlooked or underfunded, but we know it will be absolutely critical as a long-term measure at Barnegat Light to sustain quality nesting habitat and high reproductive success.

The work this winter was done in tandem with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, our primary technical partner on the project. A special thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Philadelphia District for funding and facilitating the maintenance construction. We also greatly appreciate the ongoing partnership on this project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – New Jersey Field Office and State of New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Todd Pover is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Eagles In Every County: NJDEP Posts 2020 Bald Eagle Press Release

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

NJDEP & CWF REPORT RECORD NUMBER OF BALD EAGLE NESTS, WITH EAGLES CONFIRMED IN ALL 21 NJ COUNTIES

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

Photo by Northside Jim

2020 was a record breaking year for Bald Eagles in New Jersey. Going from just one recorded nest in 1980, New Jersey’s Bald Eagles hit three major milestones this year in terms of new nests, locations and total nests monitored.

A record 36 new eagle nests were found in 2020. 22 nests were found in southern New Jersey, seven in northern New Jersey, and seven in central New Jersey.

This means that Bald Eagle are now confirmed to nest in every county in the state!

An astounding (and record breaking) 220 nesting pairs of eagles were also monitored in 2020. These pairs produced a total of 307 eaglets, with an additional 28 nesting pairs tracked to nests, but laying no eggs. Of the 210 known-outcome nests, an average of 1.46 young were produced per nest, exceeding the productivity rate necessary to maintain a stable population of 1.0 young per nest.

These numbers could not have been achieved or documented without the dedicated efforts of the almost one hundred volunteers with the Bald Eagle Nest Monitor program, managed by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ in partnership with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program. These volunteers conduct the majority of the nest-observation work vital to the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in tracking the population and nest distribution of our state’s Bald Eagles.

“The comeback of the bald eagle in New Jersey ranks among the most inspiring recoveries of endangered wildlife species anywhere,” said David Wheeler, Executive Director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ. “The bald eagle’s return illustrates what is possible for many other rare species when you bring together proactive wildlife management, strong public investment, and the unparalleled dedication of biologists and volunteers.”

CWF thanks our dedicated volunteers and partners who make our bald eagle conservation work possible, including PSE&G, Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite Stores, P&G, Wells Fargo, Mercer County Parks, Wildlife Center Friends, the American Eagle Foundation, and the Zoological Society of New Jersey.

Click here to read the full NJDEP press release.


Learn more about CWF’s Bald Eagle Project & read the annual Bald Eagle Project Reports by clicking here.

Learn about tracking Bald Eagles through New Jersey EagleTrax by clicking here.

Learn more about Bald Eagles in CWF’s Field Guide by clicking here.

Save Your Seeds This Halloween!

Monday, October 12th, 2020

by Meaghan Lyon

Halloween is right around the corner and of course that means preparing for the age-old tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns. An event that brings joy to your household and trick or treaters on Halloween night can also be beneficial to wildlife! Instead of tossing the seeds and guts of your pumpkins into the trash, save the seeds to feed wildlife in your own backyard.

As the weather gets cooler and food becomes scarcer, wildlife species like migrating songbirds and small mammals seek out fall nuts and berries to help get them through the cold weather months. Migrating songbirds need energy to fuel their long migration south and molt into their winter plumage. Songbirds also need to store more fat to help resist the cold. Pumpkin seeds are full of essential nutrients and trace minerals that could be hard to come by in the winter.

Small mammals like squirrels and chipmunks can also benefit from pumpkin seeds. Although you may not see as many squirrels and chipmunks in the winter, they do not hibernate. Their activity slows down considerably in the winter and they rely on the food they stored in the fall. Food caching is a common practice among small mammals which allows them access to food when the ground is frozen or covered in snow. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack to help store fat for the winter.

There are many ways you could provide these seeds to wildlife. The pumpkin seeds can be added to a bird seed mix or just sprinkled on the ground. They do not need to be baked or dried, just left in a small bowl accessible to your backyard critters. If carving pumpkins is not your aesthetic, wildlife will also enjoy the pumpkin or squash in its entirety.

This is a great way to use every part of your Halloween pumpkins and be left with no waste! After Halloween, the pumpkins can also be composted at a local facility to help benefit the environment. Let’s make this year a Happy Halloween for communities and for wildlife!

Meaghan Lyon is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation. 

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.