Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Island Beach State Park’

CWF biologist rescues osprey tangled in balloon ribbon at Island Beach State Park

Friday, June 29th, 2018

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An osprey with a balloon ribbon around its leg at Island Beach State Park. Volunteers from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey removed the ribbon and cleaned the osprey’s nest on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Goldman,

Two volunteer groups and the Seaside Heights public works department teamed to help a baby osprey that had a balloon ribbon tangled around its leg in a nest at Island Beach State Park.

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Identifying “Bandit” at Pete McLain Osprey Cam Nest

Friday, May 4th, 2018
The Amazing History of a Breeding Adult Male Osprey at Island Beach State Park

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Bandit in flight while carrying nesting material. He has been nesting at the Pete McLain Osprey Cam nest since 2013. photo by Karl Soehnlein.

Around 3% of ospreys who were banded with USGS aluminum bird bands as nestlings in New Jersey are re-sighted after fledging or leaving their nest. Most of those recoveries or resightings are centered around mortality based events where a bird is injured or killed and the band is then close enough to read. Since the numbers on the leg bands are so small, it is often hard to read when they are still alive. However, when enough photos are obtained or a camera is installed on a nest then the likelihood of reading the band on a live bird increases.  (more…)

Beachnester Buzz: Piping Plovers Return to Island Beach State Park

Monday, July 11th, 2016

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

One of four recently hatched "itty-bitty" piping plover chicks at Island Beach State Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knutsen.

One of four recently hatched “itty-bitty” piping plover chicks at Island Beach State Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knutsen.

So far our weekly beach nesting bird updates have focused on statewide trends, but this week we are going to feature one special pair of piping plovers.

The story actually starts in the summer 1989…Ronald Reagan had just left the White House and the Berlin Wall would fall a few months later. It was also the last time a piping plover nested on the miles of oceanfront beaches at Island Beach State Park. That all changed in May of this year, when a pair of plovers was observed exhibiting breeding behavior at the southern portion of the park close to the inlet jetty. Eventually they laid four eggs, a cage was erected around the nest to protect it from predators, and right on schedule over the July 4th weekend, four itty-bitty chicks emerged. A week later, three chicks have survived the daily battles with predators (i.e. fox, crows, gulls) and a heat wave. The story isn’t over yet, we won’t know for another 3 weeks or so if they survive to the stage where they can fly, which is our metric for success.

Regardless of the outcome, this pair being at Island Beach State Park symbolizes an interesting point in New Jersey’s conservation efforts to recover this federally threatened and state endangered species. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of federal listing for the Atlantic coast population of piping plovers, and with it extensive management to aid recovery. Those management efforts have led to varying results in New Jersey; our population has swung from a low of 92 pairs to a high of 144 pairs, but mostly settling in around 120 pairs. We are currently in a slight upswing, but the bottom line is New Jersey is a tough place for piping plovers to successfully breed – it represents a convergence of all the significant threats the birds face.

Why did piping plovers suddenly show up at Island Beach State Park again this year? Well, we may never know for sure, but we do think Hurricane Sandy probably had a part in it. While it was wrecking destruction up and down the Jersey Coast, Hurricane Sandy was also creating the kind of sparse, open habitat where piping plovers prefer to nest. Some of that was created at Island Beach, and soon after Sandy, we noted some “prospecting” plovers at the park. Nothing came of that, but meanwhile piping plover action was heating up just a little bit south on LBI at the Holgate Unit of the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR and just across the inlet at Barnegat Light. The storm created especially good conditions for piping plovers in those locations, including a giant “overwash” at Holgate, which in turn attracted more and more plovers, which produced a “bumper crop” of young fledglings. Barnegat Light only had one remaining plover, but it produced well above average numbers of fledglings for several years in a row.

One of the newest "residents" of Island Beach State Park, an adult breeding piping plover. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knutsen.

One of the newest “residents” of Island Beach State Park, an adult breeding piping plover. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knutsen.

Quick biology lesson…piping plovers exhibit very strong site fidelity, so the adults tend to come back to the same site year after year, often the same patch of beach. That includes their young, but they have to forge their own territory as existing pairs fiercely defend their established territory. This year we have seen a bump from one to four pairs in the Barnegat Inlet area and one of the new breeding birds was born last year at Holgate (we know that from bands now being placed on the birds by researchers). With Holgate reaching capacity, the returning young are looking nearby for other places to nest. The Island Beach plovers are not banded, but the banding in this area is new in our state, so they might also be young from previous successful nests at Barnegat Light.

At the moment New Jersey has high concentrations of piping plovers at Sandy Hook and the Forsythe NWR, over three-quarters of the state population occurs at these federal properties. They are performing well at these sites for now, but habitat conditions change quickly along the coast and real recovery has to happen over a wider geographic area. For any significant population rebound to occur, new sites need to be colonized, so the piping plovers at Island Beach State Park this year may be a small sign of that starting to happen.




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…)

Moonlight Hikes and More at Island Beach State Park!

Friday, May 27th, 2016
New, exciting programs at Island Beach State Park this summer

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Full moon on the beach by Eric Hance.

Full moon on the beach by Eric Hance.

The Jersey Shore has changed immeasurably over the past century. But one place gives you the chance to recapture the beauty and wild feeling that once encompassed the entire coast – Island Beach State Park.


At Island Beach State Park, you can still find hands-on adventures along the Atlantic Coast and the Barnegat Bay. You can still be immersed in the nature of coastal beach dunes, maritime forest, and vast saltmarsh. You can still find wildlife like osprey, red fox, diamondback terrapins, piping plover, sea turtles, and an incredible array of fish and shellfish.

Red fox by Eric Hance.

Red fox by Eric Hance.

We are excited to partner once again with New Jersey State Parks and offer incredible programs about New Jersey’s natural world at Island Beach State Park.


Photo by Northside Jim.

Programs include:


Photo by Northside Jim.

A new feature has been added to the Moonlight Hikes this year. The hike will start in parking lot A13, through the thicket, over the dunes, onto the beach and the bonfire will be in front of the judges shack. A representative will be there to talk more about the shack’s history. The astronomers will be with us again this year too.


The Kayak Eco-Tour and the Sedge Islands Then & Now Tour have been merged into one program. The program is now called the Sedge Islands Eco-Tour and will be an all-encompassing kayak tour of the area.


Also new this year, Island Beach State Park has partnered with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center to offer Mock Stranding events. There will be four this year, two mock dolphin strandings and two mock sea turtle strandings.


Make sure to point your browser to the new, Island Beach Nature Programs website. Check out the list of programs. Bookmark the site and share it with your friends! Make sure to include some awesome, educational outdoor recreational plans for your summer vacation along the Jersey Shore!


Photo by Ray Hennessy.

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

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