Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Banner year for New Jersey’s Piping Plovers

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

By Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

A piping plover nestling. © Kim Steininger

The final results are in and it was a banner year for piping plovers in New Jersey. Statewide, our piping plovers produced an average of 1.39 fledglings per pair – one of the highest rates recorded since monitoring began several decades ago. Those results couldn’t have come at a better time. Fledgling rates had been poor the past several years and at just 108 pairs the breeding population is still extremely low. Because piping plover chicks often return to the same general area where they were born when they are ready to breed, the hope is that this year’s success will help grow the state’s population in the next several years. To find out more about the results of the 2010 piping plover breeding season click here (pdf). And if you want to find out more about how the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey helps protect piping plovers in our state or how you can help, click here.

Going nuts for Woodrats!

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Help collect acorns for the endangered Allengany Woodrat

by Maria Grace, Education and Outreach Manager

Allegheny woodrats are sometimes referred to as “packrats” because of their hoarding behavior. © Mick Valent

The Allegheny woodrat is a state endangered species. It was added to the endangered species list in 1991. There is one remaining population of these small mammals left in the state and they need our help this winter.

This season we are going to help the woodrat by providing it with food. We will distribute acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts or any other nuts from native New Jersey trees in the area the woodrats live. By providing them with food we will help them survive the winter.

Collecting nuts while learning about the habits and habitat needs of the Allegheny woodrat is a great service learning project! Have your students collect native tree nuts throughout the community and help to protect one of NJ’s rarest wildlife residents.

We are collecting nuts now through November 24th to distribute to the woodrat’s location throughout the winter. If you would like to contribute to the woodrat’s winter food pantry, please drop off nuts from native New Jersey trees to  the Endangered and Nongame Species Program’s office in Clinton, New Jersey.

  • Please contact Maria Grace at Conserve Wildlife Foundation at (609) 984-0621 for specific instructions.
  • Nuts will be collected until November 24th.

Photo from the Field

Monday, October 25th, 2010
Installing Osprey Platforms

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

This past week I installed two osprey nesting platforms with the help of some dedicated volunteers. The platforms were installed on two islands known as Little Sedge Islands off Lavallette in Barnegat Bay. I originally planned on only installing one platform there for a woman who donated to help support our osprey project. However, this past spring on the day we were planning to install the platform my wife went into labor with our first child. So I made up for not having the platform installed before this year’s nesting season by installing two this past week.

The islands are preserved as open space and are great habitat for ospreys. They prefer to nest over or near water (their source of food). Islands provide additional protection from ground predators, like raccoons. There are several nesting platforms nearby that are always occupied, so it’s likely that these platforms will be occupied within the next couple years.

Thank you to everyone who helped out!!

Volunteers finish installing an osprey nesting platform on an island on Barnegat Bay. © Ben Wurst

More photos from the installation:

Mythbusting The Misunderstood Bat

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Maria Grace, Education & Outreach Manager

Bats are incredibly beneficial to humans. © Justin Boyles

Bats get a bad rap – they are blind bloodsuckers that get caught in our hair. But these are all myths and this post is going to bust them!

There are no bloodsucking bats in the U.S. Yes, there are vampire bats in the world (3 species live in the tropics from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina) and while they do rely on blood for their sustenance, they don’t view people as a food source.  They usually pierce the skin of livestock such as cows, goats or chickens, and gently lap the blood from the wound (similar to how a dog licks water from a bowl).

Bats are not blind. Most species of bats have very good eyesight but they usually depend on their sense of echolocation to navigate through the world.  They emit high frequency sounds into their environment and these sounds bounce off objects and back to the bat.  The bat is then able to interpret the sounds and create a picture of what their environment looks like.

Bats rarely get caught in human hair. Bats, using their sense of echolocation, can detect objects as fine as a single human hair in total darkness.  They are not aggressive animals but they can fly too close to people while feeding on insects or when flying low over water to take a drink.

Beneficial bats eat bugs. Bats are incredible animals and do a lot for us.  All nine species of bats found in New Jersey eat insects, consuming one-third of their weight in bugs each night.  Bats play essential roles in keeping populations of night-flying insects in balance. Just one bat can catch hundreds of insects in an hour, and large colonies catch tons of insects nightly, including beetles and moths that cost American farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually, not to mention mosquitoes in our backyards.

Bats play a key role in pollination. In other areas of the world, bats are the primary pollinators for many desert plants like the saguaro and organ pipe cactus as well as many species of agave.   Bats also help in the pollination of fruits and veggies like bananas, avocados, coconuts, vanilla, dates, and mangoes.

Bats also help in seed dispersal.  In fact, seeds dropped by bats can account for up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land.  Bats spread the seeds of almonds, cashews, and chocolate.  Did you read that?  CHOCOLATE!  Bats help us to have more cacao trees, which produces the yummy main ingredient of our favorite Halloween treats!

So instead of screaming and freaking out if and when you see a bat, why don’t you stop and appreciate it and maybe say a little “thank you” for all the wonderful benefits they provide to us.  Halloween wouldn’t be the same without bats and the delicious m&m’s, snickers, and Almond joys are made possible because of the wonderful, now better understood, bats of the world.

Saving Species Through Partnerships

Monday, October 18th, 2010
The American Oystercatcher Working Group

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager


American Oystercatcher Working Group annual meeting. Photo by Tracy Borneman.

Working closely with wildlife is the “sexy” part of my job. It is what makes me look forward to work on those days when I find myself less than inspired. It is also what the public most wants to hear about. But it is not necessarily the most important part of my job.

A great deal of my conservation efforts happen in meetings, offices, and behind a computer screen. A good case in point is the American Oystercatcher Working Group meeting I attended in Wellfleet, Massachusetts last week. This annual meeting brings together other managers, biologists, researchers, and policy experts from the Atlantic coast states that are specifically focused on oystercatchers. It is a chance for all us to share ideas, compare “notes” so to speak, build partnerships, and in general leverage the collective knowledge of the group.

This particular meeting is small by most standards, typically just 25-35 attendees, and much more informal than others I attend. It is also one of the most effective. Simply put, we get stuff done! Sure, we have spirited discussions and debate, but at the end of the day there is usually a cooperative spirit.

American Oystercatcher. © Chris Davidson

Projects move forward to benefit oystercatchers in individual states from Massachusetts to Florida, but through the prism of what is best for the range wide conservation of the species. This is how it should be. My job is to help monitor, manage, and protect oystercatchers in New Jersey, but since we only host a portion of the overall breeding population and they only spend a small part of each year in our state, we are just one piece of the puzzle.

You cannot effectively recover or conserve a species without partners. So we will keep telling you sexy, up-close-and-personal stories about wildlife, but once in awhile we will also remind you about the behind the scenes work we do to keep wildlife from disappearing from our state (and beyond).