Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Raptors’ Category

Photo from the Field: Ridgway’s osprey

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Back from Belize and summarizing results from our study of the Ridgway’s osprey

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Ridgway’s ospreys (Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi) are lighter than their north american counterparts. With a pale eye stripe and lighter plumage on their wings and back, they appear “white-washed” in appearance. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Stay tuned for a series of blog posts (with plenty of photos) from our work with ospreys in Belize.

2016: A Good Year For NJ Bald Eagles

Friday, January 13th, 2017

216 Young Produced from 150 active nests.

Larissa Smith & Ben Wurst: Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ in partnership with the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program has released the 2016 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report and the new and improved Eagle Tracking Maps. In 2016, 172 eagle nests were monitored during the nesting season. Of these nests 150 were active (with eggs) and 22 were territorial or housekeeping pairs. A record high of 216 young were fledged. The success of the NJ Eagle Project is due to the dedicated Eagle Project Volunteers who monitor and help to protect nests throughout NJ. (more…)

Wildlife returns to the industrial Newark Bay waterfront

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

by David Wheeler

Under the sweltering September sun, our team discovers the earth at our fingertips. We ready the manure, topsoil, and mulch, wield the pickax and trowel, and labor the wheelbarrow through the trees and up the slope of a tidal berm.

osprey-silouette-by-blaine

 

We plant 250 native shrubs and 580 native herbaceous plugs. We hammer in nest boxes, install pollinator houses, construct mounds of brush for local and migrating wildlife, and create nesting habitat for northern diamondback terrapin, an at-risk turtle species.

We lose ourselves in nature for the day.

A migrating butterfly flits past leisurely and I look up from the soil to wipe my brow. Suddenly I remember exactly where this newly vibrant natural ecosystem is. Nearly overhead, I can watch never-ending streams of commuters and tractor trailers motor past over one of the busiest bridges in the nation – the Newark Bay Bridge. Just across the bay, I can see heavy industry. Out beyond the fence, more industry – ancient, tireless, modern progress marching forward.

firmenich-volunteers-by-blainefirmenich-by-blaine

Yet on this morning, and those that follow, we now have ecological progress here as well, in a place that was written off entirely not so long ago. The Newark Bay region has suffered a century and a half of environmental degradation at the hands of industry and unbridled development.

This active industrial site is home to Firmenich Inc., one of the largest manufactures of fragrances in the world. We have transformed the land today to invite wildlife partners to help balance the scales of the region’s damaged ecology.

dragonfly-1-by-blaine

Green Darner dew laden on Echinacea.

These partners are vital to our environment, to our health, to the world around us. They are the butterflies and bees, the wasps and beetles, the flies and moths that make up an army of pollinators that in coordinated effort provide humanity with the lungs of our planet. Without these pollinators, native plants could not sink carbon dioxide and impart oxygen to our surroundings, every minute of every day. Without these pollinators, the bread baskets of the world would wither away, no longer filled with grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The natural partnerships don’t stop with the pollinators born forth from meadow creation. These partners extend to migrating songbirds and mighty raptors, small mammals and diamondback terrapins.

“If we give nature an inch, it’s going to take a yard. Give it a chance and nature will return,” says biologist Blaine Rothauser, who is directing the restoration for GZA Environmental. “Wildlife just needs an opportunity.”

heron-by-blaine

Immature night heron with crab.

Nature’s inspiring return builds upon decades of ecological recovery in the region. Thanks to President Nixon’s Clean Water Act of 1973, the water began to get cleaner. Improving the water quality reanimated the food chain from the bottom up – phyto- and zooplankton, invertebrates and crustaceans reappeared. In turn, a fishery was reborn, which ushered in the return of herons, ibis, osprey, turtles, and even harbor seals – seen sunning on the banks of tidal shores in winter!

Yet much of the land around the water’s edge is still wanting.

“The restoration site is an important buffer habitat to a large portion of undeveloped tidal bay directly adjacent to the Firmenich complex,” says Rothauser. “Today we have 60 people planting a native community of shrubs, trees and plants on a formerly sterile lawn and an unnaturalized earthen berm. It is vital work that makes a real difference.”

blaine-with-plants

The team has also created opportunities for rare species to nest. Above our heads, an osprey platform has been installed, empowering this magnificent fish-eating raptor to continue its recovery along Newark Bay and many other New Jersey waterways, industrial and remote alike.

A barn owl box offers one of our most mysterious nighttime predators the opportunity to set up shop in a beneficial area – where there is no shortage of rabbits and field mice to help control.

barn-owl-by-blaine

Close up of a barn owl.

Across the pond, a purple martin condominium-like house offers the ample space necessary for these communal swallows to reside, a home base where they can feast on flying insects.

With the first phase of the project almost complete, the second phase will seek to transform the site’s holding ponds into ecologically productive floating wetlands, bringing herons and egrets and other wading birds.

Ultimately, this project is envisioned as one that can be replicated just about anywhere along Newark Bay – or any industrial waterfront for that matter. All it takes is the willingness to look at a site’s land from a different perspective – and in so doing, to understand that the ecological benefits of bringing back many wildlife species aren’t negated by losing economic tradeoffs.

Instead they can mean parallel economic benefits. Natural pest control. Fewer landscaping and pesticide costs. Increased employee morale and productivity, with a newfound opportunity to recharge body and mind with a rejuvenating break outside, enjoying natural beauty and the engagement of your senses.

killdeer-by-blainedragonfly-2-by-blainekestral-by-blaine

Images above from left to right – Killdeer, 12 Spotted Skipper, and American Kestrel.

New Jersey has long served as a primary engine for America’s industry and commerce – and in return has often been derided as the “Which exit?” land of nothing but turnpike and smokestacks. The Meadowlands just to the north of here bore the brunt of that reputation, yet in recent decades has made a mind-blowing ecological recovery to become a wildlife – and ecotourism – destination.

The waters flow south from the Meadowlands along the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, and they come together in the Newark Bay. Now, that next wave of wildlife recovery and habitat restoration has arrived just downstream – along the Newark Bay waterfront.

For wildlife, it’s where the action is.

firmenich-group-pic-by-blaine

David Wheeler is the executive director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and author of the book, Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

 

All photos courtesy of Blaine Rothauser.

 

NJ Bald Eagles: Fall Update

Friday, October 28th, 2016

By Larissa Smith:  Wildlife Biologist

The fall is a great time of year to spot a bald eagle anywhere in New Jersey. Eagles that nest and live further north are migrating south. Many will be staying to spend the winter months in NJ where there is usually warmer weather, open water and a supply of food. We’ve had a report of an eagle with an orange band sighted in Burlington County, NJ. The orange band means that the bird was banded in Massachusetts and the plumage shows the bird to be a first year bird banded this past season.

NJ nesting pairs are here year round and we’ve had reports of pairs already sprucing up their nests for the nesting season.

Adult brining stick back to nest 10/23/16@Alex Tongas

Adult bringing stick back to Nest 10/23/16@Alex Tongas

New Jersey eagles also travel out of state, a green banded eagle (NJ) was spotted down at High Rocks Lake in North Carolina October 16th by Carolyn Canzoniere. The code on the band wasn’t readable, but going by the plumage the bird was banded in 2013. This bird hasn’t yet reached sexual maturity, perhaps it’s checking out the area for future nesting in North Carolina.

NJ Banded eagle 10/16/16, High Rocks Lake, NC@Carolyn Canzonieri

NJ Banded eagle 10/16/16, High Rocks Lake, NC@Carolyn Canzonieri

Telemetry

CWF and NJ ENSP have been tracking two eagles outfitted with transmitters. The telemetry maps on the CWF website are currently being updated and redesigned to allow for easier viewing of “Nacote” and “Oran’s” movements. We hope to have the new maps up and running in the next few weeks.

Nacote D/95 continues to spend time around Cape May and Atlantic Counties.

He was photographed by Peggy Birdsall Cadigan on 10/23/2016 at Forsythe NWR, near his old nest site.

"Nacote" 10/25/16@ Peggy Cadigan

“Nacote” 10/23/16@ Peggy Cadigan

Oran” E/17: From July 18th until September 21st Oran was out of cell range. His last known location was near the Quebec/Maine border and then on the September 21st came back into range along the Maine coast. He made his way back down to southern New Jersey and was at Dennisville Lake, Cape May County on October 3rd. Mid-October he made a trip to Delaware and came back to NJ a day later and has been foraging and roosting in Cumberland County.

 

 

Giving Absecon’s ospreys a boost

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Volunteers brave rain and high water to benefit ospreys!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

 

Volunteers work on a flooded saltmash to remove an osprey nesting platform in Atlantic City.

Volunteers work on a flooded saltmarsh to remove an osprey nesting platform in Atlantic City.

I’ve been surveying osprey colony on Absecon Bay since 2008, after I moved to the local area. It’s been an area with a small but slowly growing colony. In 2008 there were a total of 11 active nests. This year there were 23 active nests. Productivity has been good with an average of 1.72 young/active (known-outcome) nest over the past nine years (more than double what’s needed to sustain the population). Many of the nests in this area were installed in 2005 for mitigation for nests that were removed when the ACUA installed large wind turbines off Route 30. But, some platforms that were placed near the turbines, have been slowly abandoned by ospreys. This year only one nest was occupied there and it did not produce any young.  (more…)

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