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Falcon Comeback Continues in Union County

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

By Jasmine Lee, CWF Education Assistant

Spring has sprung, and peregrine falcon eggs have hatched! Viewers of our Union County Falcon Cam have enjoyed an exciting few days with the last of the four eyasses (baby falcons) emerging yesterday.

The adult female falcon 91/BA (“Cadence”) originally hails from Rochester, New York. She staked her claim on this nest last year and laid eggs very late last season, but the eyasses did not survive. This year, 91/BA got a timely start, with her first egg being laid on March 29, 2018. Incubation of her clutch of four eggs began on April 3.

While peregrine falcon feathers provide excellent insulation, it can be difficult for body heat to get past the feathers and to the eggs. An adaptation for this is the brood patch on the male’s and female’s chest. This patch has a high concentration of blood vessels close to the surface of their skin to allow for easier and better body heat transfer to the eggs.

After about 32 days, it is time for hatching to begin. The chicks begin by using a small “egg tooth” to peck a hole through the egg shell: this is called the external pip. After breaking the membrane, the chick can breathe some fresh air, and vigorously start the final process of hatching.

Around 8 AM on Saturday, May 5, the first eyas at Union County emerged! As we watch over the next few weeks, we will see a lot of activity in the nest as the parents work hard to feed the hungry chicks. The eyasses are completely dependent upon the adults and will eat an incredible amount, but they typically double in size in just six days! They will continue to be under constant care until they are ready to fly in approximately seven weeks.

An Inspiring Recovery

A peregrine hunts on the wing. ©Brian Kushner

In 2017 there were 34 nesting pairs of peregrine falcons were reported in all of New Jersey. Around two-thirds are known to have made their homes in buildings like the County Courthouse.

Until recent decades, the peregrine falcon population was in steep decline along with other birds of prey due to habitat loss and the pesticide DDT. By 1964, peregrine falcons had disappeared completely from New Jersey and all other states east of the Mississippi River.

Peregrine falcons were one of the first birds to be the focus of conservation efforts after the 1960’s.

In the 1980’s an intensive re-introduction effort began in the tri-state region, with biologists from the Endangered and Nongame Species Program and CWF leading the way in New Jersey. Since 2000 the New Jersey population has stabilized at approximately two dozen nesting pairs annually.

Livestreaming in Union County

2018 marks CWF’s second year partnering with Union County, providing a live stream of the action in and around the peregrine falcon nest located on the roof of the County Courthouse in midtown Elizabeth. CWF is proud to share the excitement in livestreaming the UCNJ Falcon Cam on our website and to use the webcam in our Union County school presentations, generously funded by Phillips 66.

Go to our website today to watch our new feathered friends as they continue to interact, and to learn more about the Peregrine Falcon. For more information about peregrine falcons, you can also visit the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish & Wildlife.

NJ.com Video: Duke Farms Eagle Cam highlights bald eagles’ recovery

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

by David Wheeler

NJ.com reporter Alexis Johnson at Duke Farms in Hillsborough

Conserve Wildlife Foundation has long partnered on the famed Eagle Cam at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, which has thrilled over 13 million viewers since it started.

In this video, NJ.com reporter Alexis Johnson covers the state’s longest running Eagle Cam with an interview with Duke Farms Executive Director Michael Catania.

Bald eagles have nested at Duke Farms since 2005. Currently the pair has laid two eggs in this nest, with the first egg laid on Valentines Day this year.

From just a single nest remaining in the state in the late 1970s and early 1980s, bald eagles have recovered to over 170 nests, thanks largely to scientists and volunteers from the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

You can watch the NJ.com video here.

The Duke Farms Eagle Cam can be found here, and author Jim Wright’s e-book “Duke Farms’ Bald Eagles” provides some fascinating additional information about this nest.

CWF’s Bald Eagle webpage and annual Bald Eagle report details the story of bald eagles in New Jersey, with a number of other helpful links.

Second PBS Nature interview celebrates bald eagle recovery in NJ

Saturday, February 24th, 2018
The WNET-PBS Nature program Peril & Promise’s second live interview with Conserve Wildlife Foundation marked the Great Backyard Bird Count by focusing on the inspiring recovery of the bald eagle. This interview, taking place at DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands, features program host Emily Harris speaking with CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, CWF Trustee Kumar Patel, and Jim Wright, who has written two e-books about bald eagles.
Holding an authentic (empty) can of DDT, Wright noted, “Eagles had some tough times…with things like DDT, a really nasty pesticide that got into the food chain and would get into the fatty tissues of the bald eagles, and they had trouble laying their eggs because their eggshells were so weak. It got to the point in New Jersey where they were down to one nesting pair in the late 1970s, and they were not producing eggs…. But now there are…approximately 170 nesting pairs in New Jersey, including two right here in the Meadowlands.”

(more…)

CWF live interview with PBS Nature explores climate change impacts on birds

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

The WNET-PBS Nature program Peril & Promise celebrated the Great Backyard Bird Count with two live interviews with Conserve Wildlife Foundation at DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands.

In the first live interview, CWF Executive Director David Wheeler and Jim Wright, who has written widely about birds and the Meadowlands, discussed the importance of bird counts to CWF’s work, and the growing threat of climate change on bird populations around the world.

Climate change is “toughest on the migrants,” said Wheeler. “When you think about a bird leaving its neotropical wintering grounds in Central or South America and then coming up to New York or New Jersey, that’s a leap of faith that everything is as it has always been. But in reality, as spring seems to arrive earlier each year along with the leaves, the foliage, the insects, basically the bird risks coming back to a depleted prey resource – and they can struggle to survive.”

 

 Photo by Jim Wright, Meadowblog.net

View the interview here. Check our blog again tomorrow for the second interview, discussing the remarkable recovery of bald eagles.

Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change is a public media initiative from WNET in New York reporting on the human stories of climate change.

Richard W. DeKorte Park is a nationally recognized birding hotspot along the Atlantic Flyway with 3.5 miles of walking trails in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline, part of the Meadowlands region where over 285 bird species have been identified. It is managed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Salamanders already on the move

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

by David Wheeler

Photo by David Moskowitz

The salamanders and frogs in East Brunswick got an early start to their migration season by crossing this week on February 15. David Moskowitz found spotted salamanders, wood frogs, dozens of spring peepers, and one wood frog crossing the temporarily closed section of Beekman Road in the early evening rain.

“This is the earliest they’ve ever moved – by about a week – in the 12 years I’ve been closing the road,” said Moskowitz.

East Brunswick has closed the road for a few nights each late winter/early spring when conditions are just right. While all amphibian species are vulnerable, spotted salamanders are a species of special concern in New Jersey.

 

Photo by David Moskowitz

Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with certain municipalities and the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program on salamander crossings in northern New Jersey. This is a key initiative among CWF’s amphibian projects.

The East Brunswick crossing offers the best opportunity for the public to take part and see these salamanders and frogs up close. Check their website for the next expected crossing and share the road with a salamander!

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