Conserve Wildlife Blog

July 28th, 2022

A Rough Year for Piping Plovers at National Guard Training Center

By Sherry Tirgrath

Ground-nesting birds in New Jersey face many difficulties and threats that most other birds typically do not struggle with. Joey and Hamlet, the piping plover pair at National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, were not exempt from those hardships this nesting season. We know our readers have been waiting for an update on the pair, and as a warning, their story did not end well this year. Joey lost his mate, Hamlet, to a predator attack just days before their chicks would hatch. Her body was found not far from their nesting site- evidence pointing to a bird of prey taking her out. Piping plovers and other beach-nesting birds can be easy targets for owls and falcons. They incubate their nests out in the open without the cover of dense vegetation. Man-made structures along the NJ coast often serve as roosts for raptors to monitor an area and pick out vulnerable prey. Hamlet was, unfortunately, a victim of nature taking its course, and Joey was left to rear the chicks on his own.

Joey and two of his chicks
Read the rest of this entry »

July 26th, 2022

Joining CWF as the Education Director

Hello! I would like to introduce myself as a new member of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey team. My name is Rachel McGovern, and I am joining CWF as the Education Director.  

I am a lifelong NJ resident and have always been passionate about environmental issues in the state. After completing my undergraduate degree in Human Ecology at Rutgers University, I spent a year in the Americorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassador Program (NJWAP) where I first taught environmental education lessons. Since then, I have had wonderful experiences teaching at nature-based organizations across the state.

Most recently, I was the Program Director at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood, NJ. This center is located on a 150-acre forested preserve surrounded by dense development just minutes from the George Washington Bridge. At Flat Rock Brook, I led the education team in developing and delivering school programming, community events, and summer camp. I was also fortunate to take on the care of five non-releasable raptors—a job that deepened my admiration for all raptors in NJ (particularly falcons).

Josephine is a great-horned owl. She is an imprint, meaning she was raised by humans and now “identifies” with humans.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 15th, 2022

Happy World Snake Day!

by Christine Healy

An eastern garter snake stands out amongst fallen beech leaves. Photo Credit: Nikki Griffiths

July 16th is World Snake Day! This day of recognition was established to increase awareness
and raise appreciation for these most polarizing of creatures. People tend to have an extreme
opinion when it comes to snakes; They are loved and revered by some, loathed and vilified by
many. Mythology, religion, and pop culture are riddled with snake imagery and, though these
media sometimes align them with healing, transformation, and fertility, they often proliferate a
connection between them and evil intentions. Whether learned or not in Greek legend, the
Medusa, with her living locks, is universally recognizable and her beheading is counted among
the greatest achievements of the hero, Perseus. Norse stories give us Jörmungandr, the
serpent son of Loki, hated by and responsible for the death of his uncle, the beloved god Thor.
The Bible symbolizes the devil himself as a snake in the Garden of Eden and, in this form,
provides the temptation responsible for original sin in Christian teachings. More recently, we
watched as ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) became the Achille’s heel of everyone’s favorite
archeology professor, Indiana Jones, and read about how the ability to communicate with
snakes was a defining characteristic of Lord Voldemort, the most notorious dark wizard of all
time.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that works such as these are responsible for a negative public
perception of snakes. Rather, I think they capitalize on a rampant unease associated with
snakes to encourage their audience to sympathize with the protagonist. The truth is, snakes can
be dangerous, particularly if they are venomous. Snakes can and do kill people, sometimes
stealthily, which defies our view of humans as the universal apex predator. This, naturally,
instills anxiety. But it’s also not the full story.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 11th, 2022

Photos from the 2022 Eagle Nesting Season

By: Larissa Smith, CWF Wildlife Biologist

I asked the Eagle Project volunteers to send me their one favorite photo from the 2022 eagle nesting season. Enjoy the eagle nesting season through the eyes of the nest monitors. (click on the photos to enlarge and view details)

July 8th, 2022

Pine Barrens Bat Surveys Provide Insight into Bat Fidelity

by Meaghan Lyon

Biologists Meaghan Lyon, Leah Wells, and Sherry Tirgrath each hold bats that were captured in nets and processed at camp before being released.

CWF’s team of biologists, along with several USFWS biologists from the New Jersey Field Office, specializing in bat surveying have been at it again for their fourth year of mist netting in the Pine Barrens. Mist netting surveys for bats starts at sundown and continues for five hours through to the early morning. The nets are set up across travel corridors through the woods with canopy cover and wetland foraging grounds nearby. As the bats head to and from their roosts and foraging grounds, they funnel through the corridors and into our nets. The bats are quickly and carefully extracted from the nets and then walked a short distance to our ‘camp’ where they are processed. Processing bats includes identifying bat species, sex, and reproductive status, as well as taking wing measurements.

Read the rest of this entry »