Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Forsythe NWR’

In Search of Stumpy – A Wintering Piping Plover Adventure

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Earlier this summer, it was announced that the annual range-wide American oystercatcher meeting would be held in December on the Gulf Coast of Florida near Naples. Thrilled to finally be attending in-person after several pandemic years of virtual meetings, my mind immediately pivoted to what other nearby nature sites I could also visit. Or more specifically and not too surprising for those that know me…where could I go to view wintering piping plovers.

In late September, Hurricane Ian made a direct landing in this region of Florida. The meeting had to be scuttled, relocated to the Georgia coast. And just like that, my “add-on” plans – I had arranged a short trip to Outback Key about two hours north of the meeting – fell off the itinerary.

Or maybe not. Georgia borders Florida, right? Six hours of driving for a chance to see 50-60 piping plovers in one spot is reasonable, right? Did I mention at least one New Jersey breeder winters at the site?

So as soon as the oystercatcher meeting wrapped at mid-day, I found myself in a car, along with fellow CWF Biologist Emmy Casper, hurtling toward St. Petersburg, Florida. We arrived at nightfall, woke in what felt like a flash, so we could wait in a line of cars, still in the dark, for Fort DeSoto County Park to open at 7 am. We had a very narrow window for our visit with the morning low tide being optimal shorebird viewing at Outback Key and because we had mid-day flights home.


New Horseshoe Island Video Highlights Nesting and Migratory Bird Protection Efforts

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Earlier this year we announced that Horseshoe Island, which recently formed just offshore near Little Egg Inlet, would be seasonally closed to the public to benefit nesting and migratory birds. The closure from March 1 to September 30 is part of a plan put forth by New Jersey Fish and Wildlife and the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, who were granted rights by the state to manage the island and its adjacent intertidal waters. CWF played a key role, helping monitor bird activity on the island this year through a cooperative agreement with the Refuge. With the closure period coming to an end, we are happy to report that it was a successful season, especially for colonial nesting species such as the state endangered black skimmer. A full report of the results will be issued later this year but in the meantime, NJFW has released a video about Horseshoe Island. The video features CWF biologists Todd Pover and Emmy Casper, who helped lead the on-the-ground monitoring effort.

Click below to view the video. 


Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
Three healthy hatchlings at Forsythe NWR!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager


If you haven’t noticed, we now have three healthy osprey nestlings at the nest at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, as viewed by our Osprey Cam. The first chick hatched on May 25th, the second on the 26th, and the third on the 28th. The eggs hatched in the order they were laid, referred to as asynchronous hatching. The incubation period was ~38 days for all three eggs (average is 35-37 in NJ; 32-43 throughout their range). With the cooler temperatures the longer period is expected. Osprey young are born semi-altricial, or are downy and require close parental care to survive. The male osprey has been very busy foraging and catching more prey to feed all the hungry mouths. Have you tried to identify the prey that they’ve brought in?

Ospreys are back!!

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Meet the osprey pair at Nest #2835

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

I must admit, I’ve been anxious for the return of this pair of ospreys (and all others for that matter). The return of ospreys is a sign of spring, regrowth, and of recovery (from the effects of Superstorm Sandy) as we watch them rebuild their nests as we have helped to repair and replace many of their nesting platforms throughout our coast.

Over the past 6 weeks I had the task of installing a new remote/solar powered/high definition camera system on the coastal salt marsh of New Jersey. The camera system was installed inside Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville next to an existing osprey nesting platform. The camera system streams live video 24/7 from the nest to the Visitor’s Center at Forsythe and on our website. Since the system has been installed we’ve had crows, peregrine falcons (one that was a juvenile who was ID’d by her leg band and originated in Delaware), and a great horned owl (not good since owls are predators of osprey young) perch on the platform.

The nesting pair of ospreys arrived back from their wintering grounds on Friday, March 29th. We don’t know anything about the breeding pair other than neither is banded with USGS bird bands. The female has a very heavily streaked and prominent “necklace” of brown feathers on her breast. The male is  smaller and has a bright white breast. Since arrived they have already been copulating (breeding) on the nest and will continue to do so over the next few weeks until the female will lay eggs in late April. For now they will continue to spruce up their nest and the male will perform courtship displays, after a successful hunt or while carrying nesting material, near the nest to help strengthen their pair bond.

There is a microphone out at the nest and it works. Some issues have come up with pairing the sound and video feeds and we are working on getting that sound online. I will be writing a weekly “Nest Cam News” journal on the Osprey Cam page with information about osprey reproduction, life history and other cool facts about ospreys! Some other great news is that the Wildlife Drive at Forsythe NWR will be open this weekend!!

Female osprey at nest #2835

Female osprey at nest #2835

Male osprey at nest #2835

Male osprey at nest #2835

Photo from the Field

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

By now most ospreys are back from their wintering grounds in Central and northern South America. Generally the older more experienced birds return first and the younger inexperienced adults follow. Over the past month I’ve been very busy with platform repairs and installations throughout coastal New Jersey. You may not be aware but I maintain a huge number of nesting platforms. In just the past couple weeks I’ve worked as far south as Avalon (where I lead a group of students and their parents from Collingswood to replace an existing platform) and as far north as Bayonne (where I installed 3 platforms with local middle and high school students). Both were memorable experiences for both myself and many of the students. Most of them had never been on a boat or ever had the chance to walk on the saltmarsh.

Maintenance of existing platforms is critical to the continued recovery of ospreys. Over time (and in some cases, not much time) the condition of these nesting platforms is degraded, mainly by the environmental conditions where they’re placed. For the most part the fasteners are what go first from contact with high levels of moisture in the air, after that,  the wood decays (unless a pressure treated or cedar wood is used). One way to help prevent the decay of platforms is to use marine grade stainless steel screws, galvanized bolts, and treated lumber. If we were to lose a large portion of the available nesting platforms in a given year then the population would suffer, so it’s important to make sure existing platforms remain in good condition.

Last week I got out to the “Wildlife Drive” at Forsythe NWR in Oceanville to repair a platform. The platform top had lost a side and could no longer hold nesting material. I built a new top out of salvaged wood that I collect and installed it on Thursday afternoon. The next day a male osprey began to place nesting material in the freshly repaired platform. Talk about perfect timing!

If you’re interested in helping us to maintain osprey nesting platforms, contact me about our new program to “Adopt a Platform.”

An osprey places nesting material in the newly repaired platform at Forsythe NWR. © Howie Williams