Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘habitat’

Puzzle Pieces: Connecting Habitat for New Jersey’s Wildlife

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) and Strategic Habitat Conservation

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

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

In New Jersey and throughout the world, almost every ecosystem is under some degree of disturbance caused by human impact. In particular, urbanization and deforestation often have negative consequences on ecosystems because they typically lead to overall habitat loss. A reduction in available habitat creates habitat fragmentation, where an ecosystem becomes segmented and broken apart. Habitat fragmentation can have multiple negative effects on wildlife, including dispersal, genetic isolation, and community structure impacts. Here in New Jersey, wildlife species are up against steady urbanization and a dense network of roads compromising the connectivity of habitat and wildlife populations. Today, the state of New Jersey remains the most densely populated state in the country occupying about 39,000 miles of public roads.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

In order to maintain diversity and sustain healthy wildlife populations, we must connect various fragmented habitats and wildlife communities. Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Without that ability to move, healthy populations cannot persist over the long term. In order to curb the effects of roads and habitat fragmentation, wildlife road crossing structures can be installed to reduce wildlife road mortality. In addition, wildlife habitat corridors can be prioritized for land management, restoration and acquisition.

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality ©Kelly Triece

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality © Kelly Triece

What is New Jersey doing to create habitat connectivity for our state’s diverse wildlife?

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) was formed in 2012 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, with the vision of making our landscape and roadways more permeable to wildlife movement. CHANJ represents a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation that will identify key areas and the actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey. CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. Connecting populations of wildlife will improve gene flow and allow wildlife to move freely throughout the landscape.

 

How can you help?

  • Be mindful of wildlife while driving: Peak wildlife crossing season occurs in the spring and summer as wildlife travel to find food and mates. If wildlife such as amphibians and turtles are on the road, safely pull over and carry them to the shoulder in their direction of travel. Always be mindful of safety and do not attempt to handle any wildlife if you are not comfortable.
  • Create wildlife friendly backyard habitats: learn more on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Photos from the Field

Thursday, February 4th, 2016
Productive Trip to North Jersey Falcon nests

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Kathy Clark, ENSP Wildlife Biologist and myself made use of our trip to North Jersey on Tuesday. Both being based out of S. Jersey, we try to maximize our productivity and time spent up north. We visited a total of three peregrine falcon nest sites to conduct winter maintenance at them. Winter maint. is in preparation for the start of their nesting season, which usually begins in mid-late March. Eggs are usually laid in late March-early April. On the list for usual maint. (which we do at over 12 nest sites throughout NJ) is to refresh gravel, treat for parasites, and check condition of predator guards (for those sites on former hacking towers). At the sites we visited yesterday, we had some additional work.

Our first stop was at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth. While fixing up the nestbox on the roof, we also helped with the installation of a new pinhole camera that was installed on the inside wall. The camera, paid for and installed by Union County, will stream online soon. CWF will help to promote the camera and our own Peregrine Falcon Cam curriculum. The female that nests here was not seen as we would have known since she is overtly aggressive to anyone who climbs onto the roof there. It could be the same female but it was odd that she was not seen at all. In addition, Kathy photographed the male who is banded (likely in NY – you can tell by the silver band he wears – we use black in NJ). The previous male was not banded. So, there could be a whole new pair here. Only time will tell if this site will be active this year. Having the camera there will help biologists learn about the turnover and if eggs are in turn laid by the female.

Second, we visited the Jersey City eyrie. There we removed the pinhole camera to get repaired/replaced. Then we painted the inside of the nestbox, which was showing its age and a good covering of guano. The female Juliette was there and not quite sure of our presence. Since she has not nested here yet, she does not attribute our presence with any kind of disturbance. This will change when she has young to protect.

Our last visit was to the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station. Here we moved a new nestbox from one building to another. The story of this site is where young falcons were found on the ground after attempting to fledge a few years ago. Their nest site was found to be in an old and unused duct which was accessed by an open window on the north side of the building. Then last year the pair attempted to nest on a tiny ledge on the south side of the building, but the nest was flooded. Our site visit revealed that there was a suitable ledge above the tiny ledge and we moved the nestbox here. This will give them the best chance of successfully raising young. PSE&G staff were very willing to help and are proud that their generating is home to a pair of nesting falcons!

Cameras/photography can be used to document new birds at nest sites. This is a new male peregrine falcon (yet to be ID'd) at the Union County Courthouse. The previous male was not banded. Photo by Kathy Clark/ENSP

Cameras/photography can be used to document new birds at nest sites. This is a new male peregrine falcon (yet to be ID’d) at the Union County Courthouse. The previous male was not banded. Photo by Kathy Clark/ENSP

Kathy and I atop the Union County Courthouse. Photo by Betty Ann Kelly.

Kathy and I atop the Union County Courthouse. Photo by Betty Ann Kelly.

Prey remains atop the Union County Courthouse. Can you ID it? Photo by Ben Wurst

Prey remains atop the Union County Courthouse. Can you ID it? Photo by Ben Wurst

Juliette on a perch atop 101 Hudson St. Photo by Ben Wurst

Juliette on a perch atop 101 Hudson St. Photo by Ben Wurst

The inside of the Jersey City nestbox got a new paint job.

The inside of the Jersey City nestbox got a new paint job.

Our last stop of the day was at the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station where we moved a nestbox to a new location at the plant. It was placed directly above a narrow ledge that the birds nested on last year. Photo by Ben Wurst

Our last stop of the day was at the PSE&G Sewaren Generating Station where we moved a nestbox to a new location at the plant. It was placed directly above a narrow ledge that the birds nested on last year. Photo by Ben Wurst

Providing Young Forest Habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler

Friday, December 11th, 2015
CWF and partners have created or restored over 225 acres of Golden-winged warbler habitat in New Jersey since 2012

 by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Golden Winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny.

Golden Winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny.

Take a look at this Golden-winged warbler — a Neotropical Migrant songbird that breeds in New Jersey. This songbird is a species of special conservation concern in the United States and endangered in New Jersey, experiencing population declines due to loss of young forest habitat.

 
Did you know? In the past 30 years, over 11,000 acres of upland shrub and emergent wetland habitat have been lost to succession in New Jersey. This habitat is important for Golden-winged warblers because it is their primary breeding habitat. Fortunately, their secondary habitat, upland forests, have remained stable in the state.

 

Therefore, it has been the goal of many wildlife management agencies to continue to create young forest habitat, while protecting upland forests as well.

 
Conserve Wildlife Foundation and our partners (Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and New Jersey Audubon Society), have worked with private landowners to create or restore over 225 acres of Golden-winged warbler habitat since 2012 in New Jersey.

 

Our managed forests have a statistically significant higher diversity of birds than unmanaged sites!

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Young forest habitat, also known as scrub-shrub habitat, is new or regenerating forest that is less than 20 years old. Young forest habitat is important for many birds, especially the Golden-winged warbler. The open canopy of a young forest also helps provide food such as berries and insects to newly fledged birds, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, reptiles, black bears, bobcats, and butterflies.

 

Golden-winged warbler home range

Golden-winged warbler home range

The breeding range of the Golden-winged warbler extends along the Appalachians from the northern portion of Georgia in the south to Vermont in the north. The winter range for this species is southern Mexico and Central and South America.

 

Follow us in February 2016 when biologist Kelly Triece travels to Honduras to see the Golden-winged Warbler in its winter habitat!

 

Learn more and get involved:

 

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Photos from the Field: Peregrine Falcon Nestbox Installation in Trenton

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Meeting our goals…we can only hope!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

In 1993-94 six young peregrine falcons were released at 20 West State Street (Mary G. Roebling Building) in Trenton to help bolster the population of urban nesting falcons in the area. Currently the closest nest is 20 miles away at the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (where they also have a camera at the nest). Twenty years later and we may finally get some nesting falcons in Trenton! It all started when Jean Bickal, a worker in the building, noticed a falcon that often perched on the building ledges. From there Kathy Clark, a Zoologist with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife made a site visit and took measurements to see if we could fit a nestbox (dog igloo) out a window on the 10th floor, which also had a roof on it. It appeared one would fit so we setup a date to install the new nestbox.

 

Cities and urban areas actually provide suitable habitat for falcons. Urban areas usually have lots of ledges under bridges or on buildings for them to nest, and abundant prey, in the form of pigeons and other songbirds. In New Jersey we have three other pairs that nest on buildings in Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Atlantic City, plus pairs that nest on the Tacony-Palmyra, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Burlington-Bristol Bridges.

 

On February 5th we helped install a new nestbox on top of a roof at 20 W. State St. We’re hoping that the falcon seen that day will find a mate and use the nestbox to raise young. Fingers crossed that we get some good news soon!

 

Learn more:

First, we had to fit this "Dog Igloo" out the window. © Jean Bickal

After getting all our gear up to the 10th floor, we first had to fit this “Dog Igloo” out the window…  © Jean Bickal

When we got here a female peregrine falcon was perched on the ledge of the 10th floor roof! © Jean Bickal

We spotted this beautiful young female peregrine falcon on the ledge! © Jean Bickal

 © Jean Bickal

After fitting the nestbox through the window we carried it over to where it would be installed, all as the falcon watched us! © Jean Bickal

Kathy Clark, ENSP Zoologist determines the best location for the nestbox while the adult female peregrine falcon watches us.  © Jean Bickal

Kathy Clark, ENSP Zoologist determines the best location for the nestbox. We moved slowly to not spook the falcon. © Jean Bickal

What a beauty! © Jean Bickal

What a beauty! © Jean Bickal

Ben and Kathy discuss mounting and placement options. © Jean Bickal

Ben and Kathy discuss mounting and placement options. © Jean Bickal

Ben attaches the base of the igloo to some wood to weigh it down. © Jean Bickal

Ben attaches the base of the igloo to some wood to weigh it down. © Jean Bickal

Then gravel is added.  © Jean Bickal

Then gravel is added. © Jean Bickal

The top is installed and Ben mounts it to the base. © Jean Bickal

The top is installed and Ben mounts it to the base. © Jean Bickal

Can never have too much gravel! © Jean Bickal

Can never have too much gravel! © Jean Bickal

While installing the box she perched on a nearby roof top. © Jean Bickal

While installing the box she perched on a nearby roof top. © Jean Bickal

The finished product! © Jean Bickal

The finished product! © Jean Bickal

Ben Wurst is the Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Ten Things:

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
You can do to help wildlife In your backyard

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Eastern red cedar berries provide food for a wide variety of songbirds. © Ben Wurst

1. Plant trees! The more the better, plant evergreens on the north-east side of your house and deciduous on the south side. Evergreens provide cover to birds and other wildlife in winter months and also shelter to your house from those cold NW winds. Make sure to choose native species like Eastern red cedar or Pitch pine for NW locations and Tulip poplar or Sweet gum for south locations.

2. Minimize use of pesticides and herbicides. Use only plant based pesticides, like ones made with Pyrethrum, which is made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemums. Try using vinegar as a natural alternative to broad spectrum herbicides. Do not use any pesticides or herbicides before any precipitation.

3. Use local and FREE mulch and compost. Many municipalities and county utility authorities provide free mulch to their residents. This is a great way to reuse a large portion of the waste stream in your county. Better yet, start a compost pile in your own backyard!

4. Use native species! They are acclimated to our climate and most are non-invasive. Many plants and trees sold at nurseries are meant to be aesthetically pleasing and most don’t provide suitable habitat for wildlife, besides providing cover.

5. Create a brush pile using branches and logs to provide cover for small mammals, reptiles, and songbirds.

6. Plant fruit bearing shrubs and trees. These can provide food for songbirds and other wildlife throughout the year. From eastern red-cedar and American holly to winged sumac and northern bayberry.

A Swallowtail butterfly nectars on a zinnia flower. © Ben Wurst

7. Reduce the size of your lawn by planting a wildflower garden. They require less water than cool season grasses and provide nectar to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds and also provide seeds to many songbirds. You will save money and time by reducing the amount of grass on your property.

8. Install bird and bat houses. Bird houses can provide a place for cavity nesting birds to nest, like chickadees, wrens, and bluebirds. Monitor the birdhouse throughout the spring and summer to be sure no exotic species are utilizing it, like European starlings. Maternity bat houses can provide female bats with a place to raise their young. Bats feed on thousands of insects each night. They help control insect populations and in some areas help pollinate fruit and vegetable crops.

9. Wildlife need water to survive. Put out a bird bath or even better, install a pond. A simple bird bath can be a medium-sized saucer or shallow bowl. Change the water frequently to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Ponds are even better for wildlife, especially amphibians, like frogs, toads, and salamanders. A simple pond can be made out of an old bath tub. Place rocks along the edge, plant some flowers along the edges, and put some branches and rocks in the water to enhance the habitat in the pond.

10. Certify your yard with the National Wildlife Federation and get a yard sign to let others know you provide habitat for wildlife in your backyard!