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Archive for the ‘Wildlife News’ Category

CWF Assists the State with Wintering American Oystercatcher Survey

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

American oystercatcher winter flock.

Most people are surprised to hear that American oystercatchers are present in New Jersey in the winter. They usually associate the charismatic shorebird as a breeding species here. Our state’s wintering oystercatchers, a combination of breeders from further north and our own, are at the northern extent of the Atlantic coast wintering range.

Annual winter surveys have been conducted in New Jersey in recent years – at high tide they form large roost flocks in inlets, so they are more easily counted. Surveys are done on the ground over a 10-day period in December and this year a half-day aerial count via helicopter was also utilized to better inform the survey. This winter’s survey was organized and directed by the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program with assistance from partners, including CWF, and volunteers. CWF Biologists Meghan Kolk and Meaghan Lyon conducted several ground surveys and Todd Pover was one of three surveyors who flew the aerial survey.

As many as 1,000 individual oystercatchers can be present in the late fall/early winter along the Jersey Shore, primarily in the southern region, although counts were on the lower side this year with only 500-600 being tallied. The lower count was almost entirely the result of a very small flock within Hereford Inlet, which typically has one of the highest winter concentrations. Oystercatchers will shift further south along the Atlantic Coast during the winter when persistent extreme cold weather arrives in New Jersey, as it limits food availability. However, the weather was relatively mild leading up to the survey, so it isn’t clear why the numbers were lower this year.

A zoomed in view of wintering American oystercatcher flock through a spotting scope.

2021 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report Released

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

NJDEP & CWF Announce Successful Bald Eagle Nesting Season

by Larissa Smith, CWF biologist

Somerset County pair, by NJ Eagle Project Monitor, Rose Joy

The NJDEP and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey have released the annual NJ Bald Eagle Project Report.

The 2021 nesting season was another successful one for New Jersey’s bald eagles, with the statewide population remaining stable at 247 nest sites. Of these nests, 222 were active (with eggs) with 296 young produced. Twenty-seven new eagle pairs were found.

These numbers could not have been achieved or documented without the dedicated efforts of the 130 New Jersey Eagle Project volunteers who conduct the majority of the nest-observation work vital to tracking the population and nest distribution of our state’s Bald eagles. CWF is honored to manage these volunteers in partnership with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program and thanks them for their invaluable service.

CWF would also like to thank our 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 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report

Further Reading:

A Year of Surprises – New Jersey’s 2021 Beach Nesting Bird Season

Monday, January 3rd, 2022

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

One of the hundreds of least tern chicks at the Pt. Pleasant colony in 2021. Courtesy of Lindsay McNamara.

With 2021 coming to an end, we thought it would be fun to look back at this year’s beach nesting bird season in New Jersey, focusing on some of the surprises.

At the top of the list is the huge jump in our piping plover breeding population, up to 137 pairs from just 103 in 2020, an unprecedented 33% increase in one year and the third highest on record for the state since federal listing. This was a much-needed bump, as productivity has been high over the past few years, but we weren’t seeing any sustained growth in the population as a result as would be typical. So, when the final pair number was tallied this year, we were both relieved and surprised at how big it was! The challenge now will be to maintain that higher level or increase it even more, as it has fluctuated up and down quite a bit in recent years.

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Found! Duke’s Tracker Reboots

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

by Barbara McKee, NJ Eagle Project Volunteer

“Duke” December 19th, 2021 by Barb McKee

A year ago November I began tracking Duke. I was fortunate to see and photograph him more than a dozen times and wrote two blogs for CWF about these adventures. 

See “Duke’s Homecoming” and “Playing Hide and Seek with an Eagle”.

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A New Season of Wonder at Three Bridges Eagle Cam

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

by Larissa Smith, CWF biologist

Three Bridges adult perched on tower December 5th 2021 by Lisa Romero

We are happy to announce that the Three Bridges Eagle Cam will go live on December 15th. This fall, the nesting platform atop the transmission tower received some improvements from PSE&G. The perches were moved for a better camera view and replaced with wood to provide better perches for the adults and a second wooden perch was added along one of the sides. A foam baffle was added to the microphone to help buffer wind noise. These improvements will make the platform better for the eagles as well as enhance the viewing experience.

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