Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘citizen science’

Calling all Osprey Lovers!

Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Citizen Scientists Needed to help collect data on nesting ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Two young ospreys and an adult on a nest in Ocean County.

This year we are hoping to get a better estimate of the size and health of the osprey population in New Jersey. Up from only 50 pairs in the early 1970s to an estimated 600+ pairs today. Ospreys are an indicator species and as top tier predators, they show the effects of contaminants in the environment before many other long lived species. They are our new age “canary in the coal mine” so keeping tabs on the health of their population is key to assessing the health of our estuarine and marine ecosystems. (more…)

Project RedBand Alumni Update!

Friday, July 8th, 2016
Osprey 44/C re-sighted at Island Beach State Park!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Project RedBand Osprey 44/C was re-sighted by Shayna Marchese on Island Beach State Park on July 3, 2016.

Project RedBand Osprey 44/C was re-sighted by Shayna Marchese on Island Beach State Park on July 3, 2016.

Really exciting news. For the first time this year, a (live and well) red banded osprey was re-sighted! 44/C was banded as a nestling on July 12, 2014 and photographed by Shayna Marchese on July 3, 2016 at Island Beach State Park. Young ospreys spend two years on their wintering grounds before returning to their natal areas. This is the first year that 44/C has returned to New Jersey. 44/C appears to be a male, and males have a higher level of site fidelity than females do, so they are more likely to return to the same area that they originated from. We aren’t surprised that one of our first red banded birds to be re-sighted in New Jersey was at Island Beach State Park, just outside Sedge Island Wildlife Management Area. For anyone who is not familiar with Sedge, it is the state’s most densely populated osprey colony in New Jersey. Around 30 pairs of ospreys nest at Sedge which is less than 3 square miles. (more…)

CWF Celebrates American Eagle Day

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Spotlight on the Bald Eagle’s All-American Comeback in New Jersey

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Photo by Northside Jim.

Photo by Northside Jim.

In 1985 — just 31 years ago — a single bald eagle nest remained in the state of New Jersey. In 2015, CWF and partners monitored 161 nests throughout the Garden State. Just this year (as of June 20, 2016), over 50 young eagles have already fledged from their nests! What sparked this All-American comeback of the United States’ National Bird?

 

DDT use was banned in the United States in 1972. That ban combined with restoration efforts by biologists within the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) resulted in 25 bald eagle pairs by 2000.

 

Since then, CWF and ENSP biologists have worked together to not only conserve New Jersey’s existing bald eagle population, but help young eaglets in the state thrive. We manage the New Jersey Bald Eagle Project, a network of passionate, dedicated volunteers that monitor bald eagle nests and help reduce human disturbance in eagle habitats. These incredible volunteers, like the late Elmer Clegg, have been an integral part in the recovery of bald eagles throughout the Garden State.

 

CWF and ENSP have even begun tracking bald eagles to see where they travel and to learn more about their behavior! During the summer of 2014, two juvenile bald eagles were fitted with a GPS tracking device (a wearable backpack). Our team of biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male) and one from Cumberland County (a female) to be tagged in this telemetry study. Then in May 2015, a juvenile male from a nest in Cumberland County was fitted with another GPS transmitter. You can follow the journey of “Nacote” and “Oran” on our website.

 

CWF also partners with Duke Farms on a webcam that provides a live look at a bald eagle nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. During the eagle nesting season (late January-July), the EagleCam allows 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 11 million viewers and growing! This year, CWF’s eagle expert Larissa Smith launched a new citizen science program to engage these viewers in gathering scientific data on the eagles’ diet.

 

Today, American Eagle Day, we celebrate the hard work of the biologists, volunteers and concerned citizens throughout New Jersey that have made a difference for the birds and contributed to their comeback.

 

The bald eagle was selected as the central image of the Great Seal of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on this day, June 20, in the year 1782. For 234 years, the bald eagle has served as the living symbol of freedom, courage, strength, spirit, democracy, independence, and excellence. Today, we celebrate the recovery of the bird and the All-American comeback the population has made in the Garden State.

 

Throughout the entire country, there are an estimated 14-15,000 bald eagle pairs! Though the bald eagle was removed from Endangered Species Act protection in 2007, it is still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

 

The 501(c)(3), not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) of Tennessee has been a major proponent and organizer in establishing and promoting “American Eagle Day.” The AEF is celebrating its 30th year of protecting and caring for bald eagles and other birds of prey. CWF thanks AEF for their support of our work in New Jersey!

 

“On American Eagle Day, and every day, let us continue to treasure and protect the Bald Eagle all across this great land for future generations to enjoy,” says AEF Founder and President Al Cecere, who has been spearheading the American Eagle Day effort for two decades.

Learn More:

 

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

CWF’s Eagle Expert Launches New Citizen Science Project

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
CWF Biologist Larissa Smith Looking for Data from EagleCam Viewers

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

EagleCam Screenshot 2016

Conserve Wildlife Foundation eagle biologist Larissa Smith has launched a new citizen science project in an effort to learn more about New Jersey’s eagles. We know that many teachers, students and bird lovers watch the wildly popular Duke Farms EagleCam, and now those viewers can help Larissa gather data by participating in the Eagle Food Observation Project.

 

Larissa holding an eagle at a banding last week.

Larissa holding an eagle at a banding last week.

Jim Wright — author of the popular posts about the eagles for Duke Farms’ “Behind the Stone Walls” blog, as well as, “The Bird Watcher” column for The Record — interviewed Larissa Smith in the most recent post on Duke Farms’ blog. In this interview, Larissa explains her latest citizen science project to learn more about the Duke Farms eaglets’ diet.

 

Learn More:

 

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

How You Can Help Fill-in Data Gaps

Friday, January 29th, 2016
YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS CAN HELP INFORM NEW JERSEY’S BIOLOGISTS

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Compared with most of the states within the United States, New Jersey is relatively small in area. However, it is still too large for biologists within New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) to survey every inch of the state for rare species at all times. Therefore, ENSP has created a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form with which any bird watcher, hiker, fisherman, and anyone else with knowledge on how to identify New Jersey’s rare wildlife, may submit information on rare species which they may have come across in their travels. This information assists ENSP biologists in monitoring their species’ numbers and whereabouts and may aid in targeting areas for future surveys. Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) staff work very closely with ENSP to encourage the public to submit their observational data and then process the information which gets submitted.

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

The first step in reporting rare species sightings is to first determine whether the species you observed is a species which is tracked. Tracked species are those listed in New Jersey as endangered, threatened, or special concern. The lists of these species can be found on these ENSP’s websites:  endangered & threatened species and special concern species.

The greatest need for data is for those species which are new to the proposed list of endangered, threatened, or special concern species. Because they did NOT previously have an imperiled status, they have largely been ignored in terms of survey effort and/or data acquisition. At the current time, there is a great need for data regarding observations of the following species:

Reptiles

Amphibians

Butterflies

Once you have determined that you observed a rare species, the next step is to complete a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form. You may complete one of these forms if you made the observation yourself – second-hand observations or information whose source was a report, letter, conversation, or other document will not be accepted. Also, one form must be completed per species. Thus, if you observe a heron rookery comprised of great blue herons, tricolor herons, and snowy egrets, then three sighting report forms may be submitted.

Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Forms are available for download and/or printing here. Part of the process of completing the form is to submit a map of the location where the animal was observed. This is critically important for reasons to be discussed later. The preferred map to submit is an aerial image of the area which you have marked with the animal’s location; however, a topographic map is also acceptable. Aerial images may be accessed via Google maps. Topographic maps can be accessed here. In addition to the form and map, it is also extremely helpful if you can submit at least one photograph of the animal in order for an ENSP biologist to verify the identification of the species.

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state's list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

After you mail in your form and map to ENSP, CWF or ENSP staff will enter it into their tracking database at which point it will receive an Observation ID number. You will then receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your form and providing you with your Observation ID number in the event you wish to follow-up with additional information or inquire as to whether the biologist has reviewed your form.

The form then goes to a CWF or ENSP biologist who will evaluate it to determine whether it is a valid sighting and whether it should be integrated into the next version of ENSP’s Landscape Project. This is why receiving accurate locational information along with the sighting report form is crucial. The Landscape Project is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) product whereby critical areas are identified for imperiled species based upon species locations as well as land-use classifications. The resulting maps enable state, county, municipal, and private agencies to identify important habitats and protect them in a variety of ways. This information is even utilized to regulate land-use in the state and attempt to preserve whatever endangered and threatened species habitat remains in New Jersey.

A common misperception many New Jersey nature watchers have is, if they happen to report their rare species sightings to institutions such as Audubon or Cornell (e-bird), that information will make its way to the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program. That is not the case. ENSP needs you to submit your data directly to them. So, please, become a Citizen Scientist and assist both CWF and ENSP in tracking New Jersey’s rare species, in the hopes that our work can prevent them from becoming rarer.

If you have collected a large amount of data and submitting it via multiple Sighting Report Forms may be too time consuming, please contact Mike Davenport, CWF’s GIS Program Manager, at Michael.davenport@dep.nj.gov Other options exist for data submittal (Excel spreadsheets for example) so long as all of the required information is included.

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