Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Helping wildlife at home

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017
Create a wildflower meadow to attract butterflies, bees and birds

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Annual wildflowers provide a big “bang for your buck” in backyard habitats.

Providing habitat for wildlife in your own backyard can be a very rewarding experience for your entire family. My kids love to help prep the soil and broadcast seeds, while my wife loves cutting some flowers that are produced. Beneficial habitat can be as simple as choosing to plant native instead of non-native plants in your yard. If you want to go all out, then consider replacing part of your lawn with a wildflower meadow. Colorful wildflowers add aesthetic beauty to your yard while providing food for pollinators and songbirds. (more…)

Going ‘wild’ online: CWF awards scholarships to talented high schoolers for social media outreach

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

by Genevieve Tarino

(From Left) CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, Claire Ang of Marine Academy for Science & Technology, CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, 1st Place Winner Ethan Chang, 3rd Place Winner Olivia Gemarro, Honorable Mention Nina Colagiovanni, Honorable Mention Sarina Schmidt, Maria Spina of PSEG Foundation and Russell Furnari of PSEG Services Corporation

Hundreds of high school students from across the state competed in Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s “Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest”, engaging more than 23,000 people on social media with messages of wildlife protection. Of the entrants, three select winners earned scholarship funds.

“Today’s high schoolers grow up with an inherent expertise with technology and multimedia, yet it is far too easy for them to grow disconnected from the stunning nature and wildlife all around us. This contest utilizes their talents for technology to engage thousands of people across New Jersey and beyond with the wonders of wildlife – and a reminder for all of us to balance our lives by getting outdoors as well as online,” said David Wheeler, Executive Director of the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

Thanks to the generosity of corporate sponsor PSEG, Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s third annual multimedia contest focused on social media, giving students the opportunity to submit an original social media campaign showing why wildlife is important to protect and preserve in New Jersey and beyond. Winners were recognized this summer at a ceremony at PSE&G headquarters in Newark.

In addition to the student winners, CWF recognized Claire Ang, a marine science teacher from the Marine Academy for Science and Technology. Ms. Ang’s exceptional leadership engaged her high school in the contest, raising awareness about species protection.

Fifteen-year old Ethan Chang from Woodbridge High School won first place, while second and third place winners were Caitlyn Drace from Woodbridge High School and Olivia Gemarro from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology. In addition, Sarina Schmidt of Manchester Township High School and Nina Colagiovanni of Point Pleasant Beach High School were recognized for their wildlife videos. Each of the honorees plan to pursue wildlife conservation in various ways.

All three winners were awarded a gift bag, scholarships, and a special invitation to an eco-tour at Sedge Islands. Off the coast of Barnegat Bay, winners will have the unique opportunity to spend the day fishing, clamming, and wildlife watching.

Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio said, “The Species on the Edge 2.0 contest capitalizes on high school students’ expertise with social media platforms and provides them with the opportunity to showcase their talents, creativity, and their love for nature. This year’s contest allows high school students to advocate for wildlife conservation and to help raise awareness on social media about the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife.”

PSEG’s commitment to environmental stewardship made the contest possible by supporting funding for the scholarships. PSEG is a leader in conservation and restoration projects, including efforts to increase numbers of pollinators in the state.

The video submissions for Species on the Edge 2.0 can be viewed here.

Beach Plants Need Love, Too

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

by Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

As part of the Beach Nesting Birds team last season, I had grown accustomed to scouring the beach daily for signs of birds:  tracks, scrapes, nests and eventually adorable chicks.  On my free time, my beach walks are spent combing the beach for various treasures.  Yesterday, I had a new reason to walk the beach and I had to re-train my focus to something that never caught my interest before.  It was my first survey for the endangered beach plant, seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus). (more…)

Newsworks: Why the Red Knot lives and dies by what happens in NJ

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

NewsWorks ran a feature story on red knots and the incredible team of international volunteers who make Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s past two decades of scientific surveys possible.

Read the full story here.

Firing the net so that the shorebirds can be tagged and released. Photo by Bill Barlow.

 

Dick Veitch (left) and Dr. Larry Niles (right)

 

Shorebirds lift off to an uncertain end from Delaware Bay

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

By Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates, LLC

Red knot by James Fiorentino.

I am reviewing a new paper by Sjoerd Duijns, a student working on the benefits of being a fat shorebird. Still, a draft, the paper analyses data from radio-tagged red knots leaving the Bay in good condition (i.e. fat) and finds they may leave later from Delaware Bay than lighter birds but arrive earlier in the breeding grounds because they can pick the best time to leave. They are also more likely to breed successfully and survive the Arctic breeding season to the following fall. In other words, being a fat knot on Delaware Bay makes life good.

So, in light of this new information, how did the red knots and other shorebirds fare in this year’s Delaware Bay Stopover?  One must not be firm, with so many unknowns, but here’s a working biologist’s best guess.

By all accounts it was one of the worst years in recent memory, but with a twist that offers a glimmer of hope.

First, the Bay’s water reflected an unusually cool May and never really warmed to the levels necessary for a really good horseshoe crab spawn until the very end. This caused odd occurrences of crab spawning. For example, crabs bred in greater densities at the southern beaches this year, more than in previous years. The spawn at Norburys Landing, just south of the commercial oyster aquaculture development zone (ADZ), was one of the best this year, and knots and other shorebirds used the area in great number. One can only guess the water temperatures warmed over the wide inter-tidal flats provided just enough to elicit spawning. The same process was true of all the creeks on the Bay.

Laughing Gulls and shorebirds feast on horseshoe crab eggs at Norbury’s Landing just south of the Aquaculture Development Zone. (below)The southern portion of the bay was much more important this year because waters warmed faster on the large inter tidal shelf of this portion of the bay.

Second, the knot numbers never really climbed to the levels of the last three years. I’m guessing this was illusory, a consequence of the count being done on two days at the peak. It’s likely many more birds came to the Bay and seeing many birds for too few eggs, left for better resources elsewhere. Those that left were probably short distance winterers – those from relatively close in Florida and other nearby areas. The Bay’s horseshoe crab eggs would help them too, but they can get by on Atlantic Coast clams and mussels. The long-distance birds are the ones that need the Bay’s resources.

Third, when finally, the spawn got underway, a freak concurrence of wind and tide killed many thousands of crabs, potentially damaging the population and very likely ending any possibility of a really great spawn. The cobblestone road of crabs on the water’s edge. We saw none of that this year. Not once.

 

 

The upper graph compares predicted high tides ( in blue) with the actual high tide (in Red). On the night of 26 May. This occurred during the lunar spring tide, the highest in May. Finally, a brief burst of NW wind pushed the abnormally high tide into waves breaking across the beach berm, carrying with it tens of thousands of horseshoe crabs.

In a freak concurrence of wind and tide, waves pushed horseshoe crab over the beach into the marsh by the thousands.

Grim results, but here’s the twist. In good years, knots leave near the 27th of May. One day they jam the beach gobbling up eggs, the next day there gone. In bad years, they linger. In 2003, we caught birds on the June 10th.  There’s a cost to this of course, in lower survival and failing production. This year was a new in between. By the time of departure on May 27th, less than a quarter of the knots were prepared to leave. But they hung on until the 30th, blessed with a new flush of horseshoe crab eggs created by a middling spawn and a northwesterly wind churning up the beaches and exposing deeply buried eggs. Did the birds gain enough weight?

It’s hard to say, our last catch of just 33 knots suggests they might have, but an end-of-the-season catch makes a poor assessment. Once birds start leaving, the ones behind could be the light birds not ready to leave, or the heavy birds waiting for better weather. We won’t really know until the fall counts in the southbound stopover or the winter count in Tierra del Fuego.

This, our 21st season of intense research and conservation on Delaware Bay by all accounts will be like no other. Throughout all of it, the team of scientists and volunteers remained inspired, energetic and resourceful. In this one month, we conducted more scientific investigation and conservation than most projects do in an entire year. Whatever the outcome of this year’s stopover season, our team can look hopefully to the north and know that all that could be done for the birds was done.

Those of us that were paid for our time sincerely thank those who volunteered their time including; the stewards that manned the closed beaches helping hundreds of people understand why closures were needed; the volunteers in the banding team who endured long hours of preparing equipment, making bands, sewing nets and keeping cages and of course counting, catching and processing birds; the volunteers who doggedly pursue opportunities to resight flagged birds to estimate numbers and yearly survival; the volunteers that provided meals every single night, a welcome relief from a hard day’s work; and finally, the volunteers that went out all over the Bay to save horseshoe crabs in weather both good and bad. We all did our best. God help the birds and horseshoe crabs.

Our banding team on a catch at South Reeds.

Dr. Larry Niles has led efforts to protect red knots and horseshoe crabs for over 30 years.


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