Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle project’

A Tribute to Elmer Clegg, Eagle Project Volunteer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Loyal Eagle Project Volunteer Contributes to Conservation for over Two Decades

by Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer Clegg.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer Clegg.

In the early days of the Bald Eagle project, when we really didn’t know whether the species could be restored back to New Jersey, there were a few people that offered their help without reservation to help the birds. Elmer Clegg and his wife Bunny were two and among the most dedicated. Elmer died May 20th at 79 years old. He was a loyal eagle volunteer for more than two decades.

 

To understand Elmer and Bunny’s contribution its important to remember the circumstances in which the eagles found themselves. The historic population of eagles, about 22 in 1950 but probably much higher in history, had been whittled down to just one unproductive pair by 1981. Biologists at the newly formed Endangered Species Program, including me, worked hard to restore the Delaware Bayshore population with new projects, like hacking young birds into the wild. By the early 2000’s, we had new nests but in places that had not known eagles for decades. In many places they were unwelcome because they thwarted sprawl development or short sighted resource use. They had to be defended, but then we couldn’t afford staff.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer and Bunny Clegg.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer and Bunny Clegg.

Into that breach stood Elmer and Bunny and others like them, John and Sheryl Healy and Red and Mary Jane Horner. They were stalwart defenders of wildlife that brooked no insult to the birds by watching the nest throughout the nesting period until the young birds fledged. It was rewarding but difficult work trying to persuade farmers, businessmen, irate suburbanites and many others that the eagles deserved to be where they were. A few times our conservation officers had to step in, or DEP had to drop the regulatory hammer, but mostly it was the calm persuasion of people, like Elmer, who’s true love for these birds spoke convincingly to those against the bird.

 

Elmer helped me understand that the future of wildlife doesn’t lie in the agencies or their staff, but in the hearts of people who care for wildlife. People like Elmer deserve to return to this earth as the species they loved so much.

 

Dr. Larry Niles has led conservation efforts for over 30 years.

Bald Eagles Make a Comeback

Monday, May 16th, 2016
Reflections on the Eagles of Atlantic County, New Jersey

by Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Photo of Nacote on 4/8/2016 by Kelly Hunt.

Photo of Nacote on 4/8/2016 by Kelly Hunt.

It’s always a wonderful sight to see a bald eagle soaring up in the sky or perched in a tree. Today, if you live in South Jersey, the chances of seeing an eagle are pretty good. When I first began working with the New Jersey Bald Eagle Project in 2000, there were 25 nesting eagle pairs in New Jersey. Today, the State Endangered and Nongame Species Program along with Conserve Wildlife Foundation are monitoring over 160 pairs throughout the state! Needless to say, the eagle population is doing very well due to the recovery efforts and the team of dedicated New Jersey Eagle Project volunteers and supporters.

 

Today, there are seven known nesting pairs of eagles in Atlantic County. The longest residing pair in Atlantic County is the Galloway pair. Since 1996, the pair has raised and fledged a total of 29 chicks. During that time, the pair has moved their nest twice and the adults in the pair have most likely changed. Though eagles do mate for life, when one in the pair is injured or killed another is waiting to take it’s place. Jack Connor is one of our dedicated eagle project volunteers and has been monitoring the Galloway pair since they were first discovered in 1996. He has an intimate knowledge of this pair since he is out monitoring them every week during the nesting season. He has experienced the joy of seeing a chick(s) in the nest and the thrill of getting to hold one of those chicks at a banding. But he’s also had disappointment when a nest fails, which can happen during incubation or after hatching. In 2009, the nest collapsed and the two chicks didn’t survive. He has witnessed the determination of these birds to come back year after year.

 

In 2014, the chick at the Galloway nest was outfitted with a transmitter. This allows us to follow his movements after leaving the nest. The bird named ‘Nacote’ has been to Canada and back. He is now in Atlantic County and was spotted at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in April. Eagles reach sexual maturity at five years of age, so he has a few more years until he’ll start nesting. To follow Nacote’s movements, visit our website.

 

Learn More:

 

Larissa Smith is the Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

Track the Bald Eagle’s Triumphant Return to New Jersey

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
Updated Story Map Showcases Bald Eagle Nest Locations from 1985-2015

by Brian Henderson, GIS Specialist

Photo by Northside Jim

Photo by Northside Jim

Our story map The Return of Bald Eagles in New Jersey has been updated based on the 2015 Bald Eagle Project Report. The story map shows the locations of every eagle nest known to be active (meaning they laid eggs) in New Jersey since 1985  — the year when there was only a single nest in the entire state. The map presents an animated depiction of where eagles have nested each year, so you can track the bald eagle’s triumphant return to the Garden State! Viewing the animation shows you how eagle nests spread from a single point in Cumberland County across all of New Jersey through the years.

 

The story map also highlights a number of Feature Nests which include more detailed information about the projects underway at specific nests, such as the Duke Farm nest which has been featured on our EagleCam since 2008.

 

The number of nesting pairs of bald eagles has steadily increased each year. This trend continued in 2015 with a record 150 active pairs, which was a slight increase over 146 such pairs recorded in 2014. In 2015, there were 122 nests that successfully  fledged at least one young compared to 115 successful nests in 2014 and the 199 total young fledged in 2015 was only slightly less than the record 201 young fledged in 2014.

 

Learn More:

 

Brian Henderson is the GIS Specialist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Bald Eagle Population Continues to Soar

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey releases results of 2015 State Bald Eagle Report

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

A bald eagle flies over the Holgate Unit of Edwin B. Forsythe NWR on Long Beach Island. © Northside Jim

A bald eagle flies over the Holgate Unit of Edwin B. Forsythe NWR on Long Beach Island. © Northside Jim

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey today released the 2015 Bald Eagle Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, active nests and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey with data collected by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWF biologists and committed volunteers.

 

“With 161 pairs of bald eagles this past year — up from just a single nest in the early 1980’s — the dramatic ongoing recovery of bald eagles across the northeast continues to inspire so many of us,” said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director. “The thrill of seeing a bald eagle fly across the sky is unparalleled. This report captures how these eagles are continuing their All-American return.”

 

The report notes that thirteen new eagle pairs were found this season, nine in the south, two in Central Jersey and two in Northern New Jersey.

 

With a wingspan of six to seven feet, bald eagles are larger than most birds. The bald eagle is restricted to North America and is usually found within close proximity to open water. In New Jersey, bald eagles reside year-round, usually remaining in the area surrounding their nest. They begin courtship and nest building in late December and January, adding to their existing nest. Over time, some nests can reach 10 feet across and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with Duke Farms on a webcam that provides a live look at a bald eagle nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. This spring, the EagleCam will allow viewers an up close and personal view into the lives of a pair of bald eagles as they breed, incubate, and raise young. Between the general public and classrooms up and down the east coast, the EagleCam has many fans – over 10 million viewers and growing!

 

The federal government removed the bald eagle from its list of Endangered Species in August of 2007, but the bald eagle’s official New Jersey status remains state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season.

 

“One of our encouraging findings is that the population of wintering bald eagles has grown along with the nesting population over the past decade,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation eagle biologist Larissa Smith. “This growth reflects the increasing populations in New Jersey and across the northeast, as recovery efforts continue to pay off for eagles. In addition to our fellow scientists in New Jersey and nearby states, I’d like to thank the wonderful eagle project volunteers who make keeping track of all these nests possible.”

 

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) bald eagle recovery efforts, implemented in the early 1980’s, have resulted in a steady recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population. ENSP biologists, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey staff, and volunteer observers continue to locate and monitor bald eagle nests and territories each year to analyze the state of the population. The state’s eagle population would not be thriving without the efforts of the dedicated eagle volunteers who observe nests, report sightings, and help protect critical habitat.

 

Highlights of the 2015 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report are found below or view the complete report online.

 

2015 Report Highlights

  • The statewide population increased to 161 territorial pairs in 2015, up from 156 last year.
  • Thirteen new eagle pairs were found this season, nine in the south, two in central and two in northern New Jersey.
  • One hundred-fifty pairs were known active (meaning they laid eggs), up from 146 last year.
  • One hundred twenty-two nests (81%) were known to be successful in producing 199 young, for a productivity rate of 1.33 young per known-outcome active nest, which is above the required range of 0.9-1.1 young per nest for population maintenance.
  • One chick, orphaned from a Maryland nest, was fostered into a Cumberland County nest and fledged, bringing the total fledged to 200.
  • Twenty-eight (19%) nests failed to fledge young.
  • The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with 40% of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties.

 

Learn More:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Nesting Pairs up, productivity down

Saturday, September 11th, 2010
Mixed results for Bald Eagles this year

by Larissa Smith, Biologist & Volunteer Coordinator

Pilesgrove Eagle Pair. © Jeffrey White

The 2010 New Jersey bald eagle nesting season has ended and the young eagles have left their nest areas and are heading out on their own.  This season there was a high of 94 eagle pairs being monitored.  Eighty-two of these pairs were active (laid eggs), 8 were territorial and it was unknown if and where 4 other pairs were nesting.  Thirteen new pairs of eagles were located this season. Good news, the bald eagle population is increasing.

Forty-three nests were successful in producing 69 young, for a productivity rate of .84 young per active nest.  This is slightly below the required range of 0.9-1.1 young per nest for population maintenance.  Unfortunately there were 32 nests which failed to produce young this season.  Many of the failures can be attributed to the severe winter and spring weather which coincided with the eagle nesting season. But every population has fluctuations so this one off season won’t effect the NJ eagle population in the long term.

More details will be available in the Annual Bald Eagle Project report which will be out by the end of the year.

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