Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Tracking two New Jersey eagles

Monday, November 28th, 2011

by Larissa Smith, Biologist/Volunteer Manager

“Where do the chicks go when they leave the nest?” is a question that I get asked pretty often.  The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ , Merrill Creek Reservoir, and the Endangered and Nongame Species Program collaborated on a new project that will help to answer this question. On June 13, 2011, biologists visited the Merrill Creek Reservoir eagle nest located in Warren County. The chicks, one male and one female, were each fitted with a transmitter attached by a harness made of Teflon ribbon. The solar-powered transmitters, monitored via satellites, allow the birds to be tracked for up to three years as they move away from the nest, migrate south, and move around the region before they begin to establish their own territories.  Following the birds movements will  help us to identify what type of habitat they are using during their first years.

Merrill Creek Reservoir chick with satellite transmitter

Merrill Creek Reservoir chick with satellite transmitter. © ENSP/Mick Valent

The eaglets fledged around July 11th and both stayed in the area of the reservoir into mid- September.  On September 14th the female eagle headed East to Long Island, NY.  She spent time on the eastern most tip of the Island and started heading back to Merrill Creek Reservoir on September 28th.  On October 17,  the female was found on the ground at the reservoir in a lethargic condition. She was taken to the Raptor Trust in Morris county, but she died the following day.  She tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The male eagle headed the opposite direction into PA and on September 19th was just west of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.  He headed back east and spent time in Bucks county PA before heading back to NJ.  As of November 15th the male was in Warren County near the Musconetcong River.  To see the maps of both of the eagles movements go to:


100+ Dead Seals in New England Are Cause For Concern in NJ This Winter

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

Since September, at least 146 harbor seals were found dead along the New England coast.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared the deaths “an unusual mortality event” and federal officials are now investigating the cause(s) of the deaths.  Five of the dead seals have tested positive for the Influenza A virus.

An injured harbor seal ashore in Ocean Grove, NJ.

An injured harbor seal ashore in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. © Michael J. Davenport

NOAA has ruled-out human involvement in the deaths (such as intentional attacks or entanglement in fishing line).  They also reported that the number of deaths is three times the number of strandings that typically occur this time of year.

The months of November and December are when seals normally return to New Jersey waters from further north (they can usually be found during the winter in NJ until April when they swim north again).   For this reason, there is great concern that our state’s shores may soon also witness a higher than average number of sick or dead seals.

Any dead seals or seals which appear to be ill or in distress should be reported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at 609-266-0538.  Keep in mind, however, that a seal on the beach is not necessarily sick or injured.  Resting on the beach is normal behavior for seals.  They may haul-out onto beaches, jetties, or floating docks to rest or escape predators.  So, a seal on land is not necessarily a seal in distress.  Obvious indications of illness or injury are open wounds, entangled fishing line, or lack of responsiveness to their surroundings.


Photo from the Office

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
Doane Academy students help feed the woodrats
by Maria Grace, Education & Outreach Manager


Beech tree seeds for the Allegheny Woodrats collected by Doane Academy Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades.

After reading our September 1st blog post about the endangered Allegheny woodrat and the supplemental feeding program, Bonnie Smith, a teacher at Doane Academy in Burlington, NJ called her students into action.  The lower grades (Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades) began collecting beech seeds on the school grounds during their regularly scheduled nature discovery class.  Over the course of several weeks, Bonnie and her students were able to collect hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds that will be used to supplemental feed the Allegheny woodrats this winter.  Yesterday, here in Trenton, we received that package of beech seed nuts.  It warms my heart knowing that the actions of these kids will go a long way in helping the woodrats survive in New Jersey this winter.  Stay tuned into the blog as we follow these beech seeds as they make their way from Trenton to the Palisades and hopefully into the bellies of the woodrats this winter.


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


By Allison Anholt, Field Technician, (NJDFW) and Emily Heiser, Field Technician, (CWFNJ)

Color band being placed on oystercatcher.

Color band being placed on oystercatcher chick at Stone Harbor, N.J.

Throughout the fall, there is a remarkable sight to see along New Jersey’s coastline.  Thousands of shorebirds group together in huge flocks, using our state’s coastline as a migration stopover point to rest and feed.  One particularly interesting shorebird is the American oystercatcher, which is listed as a species of special concern in New Jersey.   At the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, we work with biologists from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to survey these birds throughout the fall season.

The oystercatcher is an especially easy bird to survey during fall migration due to its distinct features. Not only do they stand apart from other shorebird species with their unique orange bill and striking coloration, but color bands help us determine individuals as well.  Banding efforts have been underway in New Jersey since 2004 in order to give insight to researchers regarding the
oystercatcher’s breeding habits, pair behavior, and migration patterns. About 300 oystercatchers have been banded in New Jersey to date, including a significant percentage of the state’s estimated 400 breeding pairs. (more…)

Update from the field

Monday, October 10th, 2011

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

Some of you may recall an earlier blog (If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, and Try Again, July 27, 2011) posted by Emily Heiser, one of our seasonal technicians, in which she

"Bahama Mama" - If You Look Close, You Can Detect The Color Bands On her Legs

reported on a piping plover that had nested four times this

year. One reason we know so much about this individual bird is because it is one of just a few banded piping plovers found in New Jersey-it was originally banded in the winter of 2010 in the Bahamas.

This specific bird, dubbed Bahama Mama by our staff, was first observed this year at North Brigantine Natural Area on March 29. It spend the next several months finding a mate, laying and incubating eggs, and finally trying to raise young, a cycle that ended unsuccessfully near the beginning of August. Normally that would be the end of the story for this year, but because we are conducting post-breeding/migratory piping plover surveys once a week at this site through the end of October, we have more to report.

As of last week, Bahama Mama was still present at the same site, nearly two months after breeding concluded and six months after she first arrived. The fact that she has remained there well after the nesting season ended is a huge surprise and defies conventional expectations. We fully expected her to be on her way back to the Bahamas by now. (more…)