Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Wildlife Protection’ Category

A Day in the Life of a Shorebird Steward

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

By: Cara Franceschini, CWF Summer 2023 Intern

In the May 16th blog, Shorebird Stewards On the Bay in May, it’s mentioned that some beaches along the Delaware Bay have restricted access every year from May 7th to June 7th. This is due to the migratory shorebirds that travel thousands of miles and need a place to stop to feed. Our beaches contain excellent food sources to help birds gain weight to continue their journey- horseshoe crab eggs. They are filled
with fat and protein. The Delaware Bay is the largest spawning area for horseshoe crabs in the world!

Now what do the Shorebird Stewards, such as myself, do all day? We monitor our assigned
beaches and educate the public about this incredible phenomenon! My favorite beaches are
Roosevelt Blvd. beach and Cook’s Beach because I see the most active flocks of shorebirds at
these locations.

A group of the infamous Red Knots: Calidris canutus, Semipalmated Sandpipers: Calidrus pusilla,
and Ruddy Turnstones: Arenaria interpres, at the beach on Roosevelt Blvd., photo: C. Franceschini

On a quiet day with not many people to educate, there are many things for us Stewards to do.
Some Stewards read their books, watch movies, listen to music/podcasts, color/paint, take
walks, research, etc. I do all of the above! Since we have a love for these special shorebirds,
most Stewards also birdwatch! It’s a must to bring your binoculars or scope to observe these
beautiful birds. Sometimes, you observe other interesting animals, too!

Another activity to do in the down-time is to flip the spawning Atlantic Horseshoe crabs, Limulus
, back onto their legs so they can crawl back into the bay. When the tide rise, these
crabs get overturned by the waves and have no way of returning back to their feet! Personally,
this is my favorite activity to do. When you return after your “crab walk”, you get to see the
tracks of their feet traveling back into the bay where they belong. Below on the left is a picture of
flipped and rescued crabs: the one on the left is a male who decided to bury himself in the sand
to preserve water until the tide comes back in, and the one on the right is a male who decided to
make the trek back into the bay. When the tide comes in, the horseshoe crabs come up
and begin spawning. Pictured below in the middle is an example of how crowded the beaches
get with these creatures! On the right, is a photo of a tagged crab I found, and reported it to
the US Fish and Wildlife Service so that they can collect data on the tagged crabs.

You can also get involved with helping these critters! “Return the Favor” is an organization
dedicated to conducting beach walks to flip overturned horseshoe crabs on the NJ beaches of the Delaware Bay. You can join public walks that are held by walk leaders or sign up to be a volunteer
and conduct your own walk (until July 15th, 2023 or next year). I am a volunteer and walk leader
and it is one of my favorite things to do. Flipping horseshoe crabs is such a special event
because that means you’re saving those crabs so they can continue to spawn and produce eggs
for the shorebirds. With your help, you could help save hundreds of crabs just by flipping
them over! Of course I had to capture this special moment of me flipping a crab (picture below)!

On these walks, you experience much more than just crabs. You get to see other wildlife that
emerges during dusk or dawn. You can also go on the closed beaches to save the crabs that
can’t be rescued during the day. During my walk, I got to see thousands of horseshoe crab

Making Dreams Come True. Summer Wildlife Jobs for College Students!

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

by Ben Wurst, Senior Wildlife Biologist

I recently attended my first career fair at Stockton University. When asked if I would attend, I felt like I couldn’t say no, as I am currently seeking at least 5-6 student interns or seasonal field technicians to assist with several wildlife conservation projects. At first, I wasn’t sure what I could display to draw attention to our table and prospective summer jobs working with rare wildlife.. Then it hit me. I bring what I use when working with wildlife in the field!


NJ Bald Eagle Nesting Season Underway

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

by: CWF Senior Biologist, Larissa Smith

Green band D/25; banded in April 2011 at the Manasquan River; photo by; Rich Nicol

Bald Eagles are the earliest nesting birds in New Jersey. Two pairs of eagles laid eggs in December of 2022 and those nests have already hatched. Those pairs are the really early “birds”, so far 73 pairs of eagles are incubating (laid eggs). Nest Monitors are keeping an eye on over 300 known eagle territories in NJ, the bulk of which lay their eggs in February to mid-March. Eagles incubate for approximately 35 days before hatching occurs. The female does most of the incubating the male also takes over the incubation duties so the female can go out and hunt. One hundred and fifty nest monitors keep track of the eagle nests and report on incubation. It can be quite difficult to tell when an eagle is in the nest incubating. Sometimes all the nest monitor can see is just the top of the head pop up every now and then. One way to determine incubation at a nest is to witness a “nest exchange”, where the male and female switch incubation duty.

Over the next few months as the eagles incubate and hatch chicks, they are very sensitive to disturbance. Nest Monitors are trained and experienced and only view the nest from a location that doesn’t disturb the eagles. Monitors use high powered scopes and cameras to determine the status of the nest. While it’s always a great sight to see an eagle, please respect them and view from a distance. To see what goes on in an eagles nest close up check out the Duke Farms eagle cam. The pair is currently incubating two eggs and hatching of the first is expected around February 24th. You can also watch a pair of eagles at The Three Bridges eagle cam. They aren’t yet nesting and we’re not sure where they will nest this season, but they have been making frequent appearances at the nest tower.

photo by Jim McClain

2022 Upland Sandpiper Survey Results

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

The results are in! It wasn’t a great year for upland sandpipers at the McGuire Airfield. Numbers of breeding pairs at this location have decreased to an estimated two pairs. Numbers can be variable from year to year so there is still hope for better news in 2023.

Upland sandpipers typically require a minimum of 100 acres for breeding habitat and so large expanses of open, grassy land is a high priority. Over the past five years, long term efforts have been ongoing to complete a large-scale grassland restoration at the McGuire Airfield. So far, roughly 500 acres have been converted to native warm season grasses with another 100 acres to be completed by next spring. Our goal is to help create and maintain grassland bird nesting habitat for Upland sandpipers and other species.


Ending the Year 2022 With Gratitude

Friday, December 30th, 2022

With 2022 coming to a close, Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s staff took a moment to reflect on what they were thankful for this year at work and with regards to New Jersey’s wildlife.

The CWF team (Board and staff) enjoyed a holiday celebration at Flying Fish Brewery.

I’m thankful for New Jersey’s incredible wildlife and my role in protecting so many at-risk species. I owe my greatest appreciation, however, to the dedicated people who carry out and support CWF’s work to strengthen wildlife populations and educate the next generation of environmental stewards. Our Board and staff are truly extraordinary at what they do, and our contributors, volunteers, and partners make all our success stories possible. 

-Liz Silvernail, CWF Executive Director