Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Star Ledger: The Endangered Species of NJ

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Image by NJ.com

NJ Advance Media reporter Michael Sol Warren highlighted 17 endangered species in an insightful story looking at what can be done to save New Jersey’s rare wildlife. Conserve Wildlife Foundation has long focused on many of these species – from the piping plover and the bobcat to the bog turtle and the Pine Barrens tree frog – through monitoring and surveys, habitat restoration, and public engagement.

Read the story at NJ.com, then learn more through our online field guide.

Oystercatcher nesting season is underway

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

By Emily Heiser, Wildlife Biologist

Many piping plover and American oystercatcher pairs have been busy laying their eggs over the last few weeks. As beach nesting bird biologists, we invest a lot of time into every pair at our sites. We revel in their successes and feel defeated at their losses. Unfortunately, many nests did not fare well in the April 25th Nor’easter that was coupled with new moon tides. Luckily, it is early enough in the season that all of them have begun, or will soon begin, attempting new nests.

The breeding habitat of the American oystercatcher in New Jersey consists of coastal beaches, inlet systems, and salt marshes.  Population estimates in New Jersey suggest 350-400 breeding pairs can be found here from March through August. Much of the monitoring and research done with American oystercatchers in New Jersey takes place on the coastal beaches where other beach nesting birds, such as piping plovers, least terns and black skimmers, are found. In 2016, more than 120 breeding pairs of beach nesting American oystercatchers successfully fledged 83 chicks. This was an especially productive year for those pairs and productivity levels were well above the target goal of .5 chicks per pair.

Photo courtesy of Sam Galick.

Oystercatchers arrive back on their breeding grounds here in New Jersey in early March to set up breeding territories and begin nesting.  Once paired up, adults typically lay one to three eggs.  Both the male and female will take turns incubating the nest for 28 days.  Once chicks hatch, they are semi-precocial, which means they are born in an advanced state, but are still reliant on adults for food and protection.  Oystercatcher chicks are fledged (or able to fly) 35 days after hatching.  After fledging, most Oystercatchers migrate to the southeast, but a wintering population does remain here in New Jersey.

American oystercatchers are listed as a Species of Special Concern in New Jersey.  A “Species of Special Concern” is a status determined by the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife and applies to species that have an inherent threat to their population or have evidence of recent population declines.  Since American oystercatchers share the same habitat as other endangered or threatened beach nesting birds (piping plovers, least terns, and black skimmers), they also share the same threats to their nests and young.  Human disturbance, a host of predators, and flooding events, such as the one that took place last week, are just some of the many threats beach nesting birds face daily.

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has long partnered with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species program in the monitoring and management of New Jersey’s endangered beach nesting birds.  Fencing and signage are placed in nesting areas to alert beachgoers to the presence of nesting American oystercatchers and other beach nesting birds.  Throughout the summer, CWFNJ and partners will be out on the beaches monitoring and collecting data that will be used to track population trends and identify threats to oystercatchers and their young.

Emily Heiser is a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


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The Drama Continues at the Union County Peregrine Falcon Nest

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

by Jenae Shaw, Education Coordinator

Male Peregrine UCNJ

The peregrine falcon pair that took up residence on top of the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth NJ laid their first egg on March 22. Shortly after, an intruding peregrine falcon caused the pair to defend their territory, leaving the resident female with injuries following the altercation that lasted on and off for several days. Despite her injuries, the resident female laid a second egg. Periodic sightings of the intruder, who was confirmed as female 91/BA (Cadence) from Rochester NY, continued throughout the week. On March 29 following an excruciating battle – for those watching and certainly for the falcons involved – the intruder was chased off.

Territorial battles like these force peregrine falcons to exert a tremendous amount of energy and undergo a great deal of stress – neither of which are beneficial to the eggs. Although male and female peregrine falcons take turns incubating the eggs, the female peregrine falcon is typically responsible as the primary means of incubation. Unfortunately, constant provocation from the intruding female kept the resident female off the eggs for extended periods of time.

On April 4th around 5:30 pm, Kathy Clark, ENSP Zoologist, was watching the live feed and witnessed 91/BA hit the resident female with a devastating blow – she has not been seen since.

The intruding female, having successfully won the territory and the affection of the resident male, did not waste any time familiarizing herself with her new surroundings. In a surprising turn of events, 91/BA adopted the 2 eggs from the previous female and laid 3 more of her own.

Unfortunately, we now know that the two eggs laid by the former resident female are not viable and will not hatch. The adults will continue to take turns incubating all five eggs. Incubation appears to be very consistent, so if all goes well hatching should take place sometime between May 30 – June 3. Stay tuned!

Union County Falcon Cam

Photo from the Field

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
#NotAnOsprey

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Moments before removing the two week old bald eagle nestling from its nest.

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NJTV: Osprey population continues to rebound in NJ

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

NJTV News recently covered the continuing recovery of ospreys in the Garden State by visiting the nesting pair at Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts & Sciences. CWF’s Ben Wurst and David Wheeler joined NJTV for this inspiring video and accompanying story.


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