Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘migratory birds’

Story Map Brings Oystercatchers to Life Online

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

CWF Celebrates World Shorebirds Day With Release of Our First Story Map: “American Oystercatchers Through the Seasons”

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF), today released a new interactive “Wildlife Story Map” in support of this Saturday’s first annual World Shorebirds Day! The Story Map can be viewed here!


A Story Map is a web-based interactive GIS map embedded with multimedia content, such as text, photographs, and video. CWF, working with GIS software developer ESRI and with financial assistance provided by a grant from the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, plans to make this Story Map the first of many, helping engage the public about New Jersey’s rare wildlife in a dynamic and interactive way.

 “American Oystercatchers Through the Seasons” tells the story about a species of migratory bird, the American Oystercatcher, which spends the summer breeding season along the New Jersey coast, but is present year-round along the southern New Jersey coast. Our state represents the northern limit of the species’ winter range. While some New Jersey birds migrate during the winter to Florida, those that breed in New England during the summer may end up spending their winter here in New Jersey.

This Story Map also provides stories about individual banded birds, which have been tracked on journeys between New Jersey and southern states such as Florida, as well as between New Jersey and more northern states, such as Massachusetts.

Make a donation today to support additional Story Maps!

How to Use the Story Map:

On the left side of the Story Map page are several “buttons” which will allow you to flip through the different seasons in an oystercatcher’s life: Breeding, Migration, and Wintering.  Each page provides information and photos and a map specific to that portion of the bird’s life cycle. By clicking on an individual point within the map, a box containing more specific information, and a photo in some cases, will pop-up. The map also provides the ability to zoom-in and out in order to see areas of interest in more detail.

This Story Map is especially exciting since it helps celebrate the first annual World Shorebirds Day. This event seeks to “…raise global public awareness about the conservation of, and research about, shorebirds. About half of the world’s shorebird populations are in decline, and the rate of habitat loss is worse than ever before” (World Shorebirds Day 2014).

World Shorebirds Day hopes to accomplish the following:

  • To raise public awareness about the need to protect shorebirds and their habitats throughout their life cycles;
  • To raise public awareness about the need for ongoing shorebird research;
  • To connect people with shorebirds through important shorebird sites around the world;
  • To get shorebird enthusiasts to introduce shorebirds to more birdwatchers;
  • To raise awareness about the need for increased funding for shorebird research, monitoring and conservation.

CWF’s shorebird leadership ranges from the American Oystercatcher celebrated in this Story Map, to the beach nesting birds along the Atlantic Coast, to the red knots and ruddy turnstones along the Delaware Bay.

Your support can help CWF develop additional Story Maps on other rare wildlife. Support our work on Story Maps on the American Oystercatcher and other important shorebirds in honor of World Shorebirds Day by supporting research, education, and public awareness efforts carried out by CWF:

We hope that this will be the first of many Story Maps that CWF will use in order to communicate the many fascinating stories that New Jersey’s wildlife have to tell.

Make a donation today to support shorebirds today!

Have You Seen This Bird?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

Young barn owls. Photo by MacKenzie Hall.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation staff work with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) to manage and populate the state’s official database of rare wildlife, known as Biotics.  Currently, this database contains over 35,000 animal and plant records within New Jersey.  ENSP and CWF currently collect and enter data for the state’s 173 endangered, threatened, and special concern species.

There are several species of birds for which more observation data would be useful; and it’s likely that birdwatchers or other nature watchers may have the data needed.  Most good birdwatchers keep logs of what they’ve observed, when, and where.  It would be helpful if anyone with detailed observation data for the species listed at the end of this blog could submit their data for potential inclusion in the Biotics database.

To submit your observation data, please complete a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form.  The form is available on ENSP’s website for download as well as instructions for completing the form (a map must be attached when submitted).  In addition to the species listed below, please feel free to submit one or more forms for any of the state’s endangered, threatened, or special concern species.  A complete list of all of the species tracked by the state can be downloaded here.

If you have a large amount of data to submit, please contact Mike Davenport of Conserve Wildlife Foundation at (609) 292-3795 – alternative data submission options may be available (such as submitting Excel spreadsheets or GIS files).

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)

Using a Decoy to Study Endangered Warblers

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation Intern, Nelson Melendez, and I recently had an opportunity to assist Endangered & Nongame Species Program Biologist Sharon Petzinger in her research on golden-winged warblers, a species just added to the state’s list of Endangered species this year.  We were banding males which had been observed previously and had already claimed breeding territories.  They were being banded in order to obtain data regarding their distribution and habitat use, as well as other life history information.

Only males were being targeted for banding.  Males are territorial during the breeding season and do not tolerate the presence of other male golden-winged warblers.  Therefore, in order to catch a male, we would use their own territorial instincts to lure them into a mist net (a mist net looks a little like a volley ball net with much finer netting which becomes invisible to birds if set-up properly).

Once a mist net was set-up near a known golden-winged’s territory, Sharon used a custom-painted “toy” bird to play the role of an unwelcome male visitor.  She also used a call play-back, a recording of a male golden-winged’s song.  The song would lure the male near the net, and the decoy should bring him right into the net.

We went to several locations in northwest New Jersey where golden-winged warblers had been observed earlier in the year to set-up the mist net.  On this particular day, however, luck was not with us for no golden-winged warblers were caught.  Several other species were captured however, such as a veery, chestnut-sided warbler, and a Brewster’s warbler.  The Brewster’s warbler is actually a hybrid of a golden-winged warbler and a blue-winged warbler.  Another hybrid form between those two species is known as Lawrence’s warbler.

CWF Intern, Nelson Melendez, holding a chestnut-sided warbler. Photo by Mike Davenport.

The veery and chestnut-sided warbler were released from the net unharmed.  Before the Brewster’s was released, a small aluminum band was placed on its leg and measurements such as wing length and weight were taken.

Warblers are often an overlooked group of birds by some birdwatchers due to their small size and relative difficulty in observing.  They are stunningly beautiful however, which becomes apparent when you have the opportunity to view them up-close.  They are a very diverse species group with a variety of interesting life histories.  There is currently one species (the golden-winged) listed as Endangered in the state and 11 additional species listed as Special Concern.  To learn more about them, please visit our on-line field guide links below.


NJ’s Rare Warblers

Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens)
Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis)
Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea)
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus)
Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
Northern Parula (Parula americana)
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum)
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)


Fracking in the Delaware River Basin

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
The Potential Impact to our Natural Resources

by Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist

Figure 1: A diagram of how the hydraulic fracturing process works to extract natural gas

Many residents of New Jersey may have heard about hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale and the potential ecological  impacts to the Delaware River Basin. The following provides an overview of the process of hydraulic fracturing and impacts to our natural resources in New Jersey.

The Mar­cel­lus Shale is sed­i­men­tary rock buried thou­sands of feet under the ground.  It extends from upstate New York south through Penn­syl­va­nia and to West Vir­ginia and west to parts of Ohio.  The nat­ural gas in the shale is trapped in tiny spaces and fis­sures within the rock.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking uses high-pressure pumps to inject a mix of water, sand, and chemicals into drilled wells that will fracture the shale rock to open cracks and release natural gas (Figure 1).  A well can be repeatedly fracked and each gas field incorporates many wells.  The process takes an enormous amount of water using an average of 4.5 million gallons of water to frack a well and a well can potentially be fracked up to 18 times.  Many chemicals are used in this process, some of which are known to be toxic and known carcinogens (e.g. benzene, glycol ethers).  Some chemicals are unknown because they are still considered proprietary by the industry.  Many of the chemicals cannot biodegrade so if released into the air or water they are there to stay. (more…)

Photo from the Field

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides food for migratory birds

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

This past spring, in April, over 1000 native shrubs were planted at a habitat enhancement site called Ballanger Creek, pronounced “Baaa-lan-ger.” The site is located within Bass River State Forest in Bass River Township and is being funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The purpose of the project is to create and enhance wildlife habitat while stimulating the creation of jobs in the local economy. Volunteers helped plant these shrubs in an area along the edge of an old fallow field (click on the “Learn More” link for before/after photos). The purpose is to provide a buffer between Route 9 and a housing development and provide food and cover to migratory birds and other wildlife. This summer was very tough for the new plantings. Many shrubs could not handle the drought-like conditions, while others did quite well.  Of those that survived some went dormant early to survive the drought. Others in areas that had shade during the hottest times of day were able to produce fruit or berries like arrowood viburnum (pictured below).

Over twelve species of birds feed on the plump blue-black berries produced by the native shrub, Arrowood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum). The fruits ripen in early August and persist through October. Large thickets of arrowood can also provide important nest sites for many species of birds.

We are currently working on the third phase of the project which is to remove old fill from the edge of freshwater wetlands. Work on this phase is expected to begin in 2011. Later this month we will be planting some left over shrubs from the spring planting at the site. If you’re interested in volunteering please contact me for more information.

The work upon which this publication is based was funded in whole or in part through a grant awarded by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service.

“This institution is an equal opportunity provider.”

We are currently working on the third phase of the project which is to remove old fill from the edge of freshwater wetlands. Work on this phase is expected to begin in 2011.