Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Viewpoint from the Field

Sunday, July 15th, 2012
A Beach Nester Scrapbook

Compiled by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager 

American oystercatcher.

The Beach Nesting Bird Project is one of our major initiatives here at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. During the spring and summer months, we employ several field technicians to help us carry out our mission of monitoring and protecting endangered piping plovers, least terns, and black skimmers, as well as American oystercatchers. We also help oversee the seasonal staff from the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program on this project.

As a slight change of pace for a blog, I thought it would be both fun and insightful to hear a little bit of their perspective from the field. So, I asked everyone from the joint beachnester crew to submit a short entry about what they like and dislike most about the project, as well as a favorite or unique photo. I will kick it off with my thoughts…Because the main goal of the project is to recover at-risk species, obviously the most satisfying aspect of the project is when the birds have a successful year. But that isn’t always the case, so my personal favorite thing is finding the first piping plover nests of the season. Aside from the challenge of actually locating the well-camouflaged nests, those first eggs embody the eternal hope of each new season. Early in the season, before spring tides wash away eggs, predators discover helpless chicks, and the crush of beachgoers squeezes out colonies, you still believe every nest will successfully produce young.We interact with the public on a daily basis on this project and for the most part we meet nice people. But we also deal with our share of people who do not support the effort. Our motto is “share the shore” and, in fact, only a small percentage of our state’s coastline is protected for beach nesting birds and many of the restriction put in place to help the birds are seasonal in nature. Nonetheless, the “plover fence” brings out the worst in some people, and when that anger is directed at you personally it can be pretty unpleasant and frustrating.


Landowner Recognized…

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
for his contributions to the NJ Bald Eagle Project

by: Larissa Smith, Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Landowner Robert Johnson with Eagle Project volunteers Earl and Mary Ellen Holton.

Landowners are an important component of the NJ Bald Eagle Project since fifty-six percent of  eagle nests are found on private property in NJ.  This year we recognized a landowner for his contributions to the project over the years.  Mr. Robert Johnson has had a pair of eagles nesting on his property in Cumberland County since 2003.  He has always been very protective of the pair and makes sure that they aren’t disturbed during the nesting season as well as keeping the nest observers updated on any activity that he has seen or any problems. He helps the volunteers by cutting the grass in his field so that they can drive in and park when monitoring the nest. This year when the volunteers truck got stuck in the mud at another close by nest Mr. Johnson came with his backhoe and pulled them out.

Mr. Johnson received a certificate of appreciation and an  eagle frame handmade by CWF biologist Ben Wurst  The photo in the frame was of Mr. Johnson holding an eagle chick during a eagle banding on his property.

On behalf of the NJ Bald Eagle Project we thank Mr. Johnson for his dedication to NJ eagles.


Using a Decoy to Study Endangered Warblers

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation Intern, Nelson Melendez, and I recently had an opportunity to assist Endangered & Nongame Species Program Biologist Sharon Petzinger in her research on golden-winged warblers, a species just added to the state’s list of Endangered species this year.  We were banding males which had been observed previously and had already claimed breeding territories.  They were being banded in order to obtain data regarding their distribution and habitat use, as well as other life history information.

Only males were being targeted for banding.  Males are territorial during the breeding season and do not tolerate the presence of other male golden-winged warblers.  Therefore, in order to catch a male, we would use their own territorial instincts to lure them into a mist net (a mist net looks a little like a volley ball net with much finer netting which becomes invisible to birds if set-up properly).

Once a mist net was set-up near a known golden-winged’s territory, Sharon used a custom-painted “toy” bird to play the role of an unwelcome male visitor.  She also used a call play-back, a recording of a male golden-winged’s song.  The song would lure the male near the net, and the decoy should bring him right into the net.

We went to several locations in northwest New Jersey where golden-winged warblers had been observed earlier in the year to set-up the mist net.  On this particular day, however, luck was not with us for no golden-winged warblers were caught.  Several other species were captured however, such as a veery, chestnut-sided warbler, and a Brewster’s warbler.  The Brewster’s warbler is actually a hybrid of a golden-winged warbler and a blue-winged warbler.  Another hybrid form between those two species is known as Lawrence’s warbler.

CWF Intern, Nelson Melendez, holding a chestnut-sided warbler. Photo by Mike Davenport.

The veery and chestnut-sided warbler were released from the net unharmed.  Before the Brewster’s was released, a small aluminum band was placed on its leg and measurements such as wing length and weight were taken.

Warblers are often an overlooked group of birds by some birdwatchers due to their small size and relative difficulty in observing.  They are stunningly beautiful however, which becomes apparent when you have the opportunity to view them up-close.  They are a very diverse species group with a variety of interesting life histories.  There is currently one species (the golden-winged) listed as Endangered in the state and 11 additional species listed as Special Concern.  To learn more about them, please visit our on-line field guide links below.


NJ’s Rare Warblers

Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens)
Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis)
Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea)
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus)
Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
Northern Parula (Parula americana)
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum)
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)


Ocean City 5th Graders Adopt a Bald Eagle….

Saturday, June 16th, 2012
…and learn about threatened and endangered species.

by Larissa Smith; Biologist/Volunteer Manager

For the second year in a row  5th graders at the Ocean City Intermediate school adopted a species from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ.   The 40 students are in two of  science teacher Mrs. Rosander’s  classes. They earned the money through chores and donations to adopt the Bald Eagle.  This year they chose to adopt a bald eagle which is one of the species that I work with so I was glad for the opportunity to talk about NJ eagles.

Students learned about threatened and endangered species as well as the NJ bald eagle project. The students asked a lot of great questions and I’m pretty sure they’ll now be on the look out for eagles!

Thank you to the students for their donation to CWF!


Exciting Programs In State Parks This Summer!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Birding by Kayak on Barnegat Bay, surf fishing off Island Beach, night hikes, and more…

CWF is excited to partner with NJ State Parks and offer incredible programs about New Jersey’s natural world.  Programs are taking place at both Island Beach State Park and Allaire State Park.

Become a WILDCHILD, take a sunset kayak tour, try your hand at surf-fishing, go bird watching, or discover the night. Whatever you decide, you will be guided by professional educators and naturalists who have plenty of natural and wildlife stories to share with you.

At nearly 10 miles long, Island Beach is New Jersey’s most expansive stretch of undeveloped barrier island.  Our programs help you to connect with the beauty of this ecosystem and its ample natural resources.  Have your kids participate in a WILDCHILD program including surfing, surf-fishing, and island exploration. Try and catch the big one during a surf-fishing class or discover the beauty of Barnegat Bay through kayaking.

Allaire State Park covers almost 3,000 acres within the coastal plain of New Jersey.  An extension of the Pine Barrens, Allaire has sandy soils and forests of oak, cedar, and pine.  The Manasquan River flows through the park, creating floodplain that serves as habitat for many species of wildlife, including the barred owl, wood turtle, and bald eagle.  Discover moths, take a quiet bird walk, or splash around in the pond and stream during one of our summer programs.

For more information, visit CWF’s Parks Programs section on our website.