Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Lights, Camera, Action: Conserve Wildlife Foundation Releases New Video

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
New Video Showcases CWF’s Work to Protect the Garden State’s Wildlife

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is thrilled to release a new video as an “introduction” to our work, keeping New Jersey’s wildlife in our future! We are a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife and the habitats they depend on.


As the video demonstrates, we utilize science, research, wildlife management, habitat restoration, education and volunteer stewardship to help conserve and protect a variety of at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation.


The video was produced by Tyler Grimm, a video intern with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


Want to get involved? Learn more about Conserve Wildlife Foundation on our website.


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


Successful Nesting Season for “Jersey Girl”

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
New Jersey Banded Bird and Mate Raise Three Chicks in Pennsylvania

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist

We have been following the story of “Jersey Girl,” a New Jersey banded bird, who nests in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. This was her fourth season at this nesting location. In 2014, the pair lost two chicks due to a severe winter storm, so it was good news when nest observer Linda Oughton reported that the pair raised and fledged three chicks during the 2015 season. Two weeks after the chicks fledged, the nest collapsed due to wind and rain. So, we will have to wait and see if they rebuild in the same nest tree or move to a new location next season.

Linda sent some photos from the 2015 nesting season.
@L. Oughton

Notice the small intruder in front of the nest Photo: L. Oughton

Linda reports that she has seen fish, squirrels, Canada geese, rabbits, turtle, chickens, and a ground hog brought to the nest.@L. Oughton

Linda reports that she has seen fish, squirrels, Canada geese, rabbits, turtle, chickens, and a ground hog brought to the nest. Photo: L. Oughton

@L. Oughton

Photo: L. Oughton

Learn more:


Larissa Smith is the Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


The Pitter-Patter of Tiny Plover Feet!

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
An update on the 2015 Piping Plover Chick Mortality study

By: Emily Heiser, Biological Assistant


Summer is once again flying by and we find ourselves more than halfway through the beach nesting bird season. New Jersey’s piping plovers are almost done incubating their nests and most already have chicks running around!


Two and a half week old piping plover chick, in hand for mid development "check-up" on weight and wing growth.

Two and a half week old piping plover chick, in hand for mid development “check-up” on weight and wing growth.

I would argue that there is nothing cuter than a piping plover chick. Covered in downy feathers, they simply look like little cotton balls with toothpicks for legs. Piping plover chicks are precocial, which means they hatch in an advanced state and are able to feed themselves almost immediately. The adults stay with their young to protect them from predators until they are able to fly, which takes about 25-35 days.


New Jersey plovers have a very difficult time getting their chicks to that 25-day mark. Unfortunately, chicks perish for various reasons. Determining the causes of chick loss in is the main driver behind the New Jersey piping plover chick mortality study being conducted by the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry this year.


Just hatched piping plover chicks sporting their color bands, which will help researchers track them.

Just hatched piping plover chicks sporting their color bands, which will help researchers track them.





Michelle Stantial and I have been visiting sites up and down the coast to check on the status of the study broods. To date, we have been able to band 46 chicks from 14 different broods.


The small color bands that we place on the upper legs of the chicks help us to identify each chick as an individual and also helps us know which individual was lost. Every five to seven days we recapture the chicks to weigh and measure them. We hope to correlate chick growth to habitat quality and likelihood of survival. Some exciting preliminary observations have already been made between the sites!


Plover chicks all hatch at around the same weight. During incubation, the embryo gets all of its food from an egg sac. The chicks weigh around six to seven grams when they hatch. Over the next five days, growth rates begin to spike.

CWF Biological Assistant Emily Heiser places newly hatched piping plover chicks back into nest bowl after banding.

CWF Biological Assistant Emily Heiser places newly hatched piping plover chicks back into nest bowl after banding.


By simply looking at some of the chick weights, you can determine where foraging quality is likely going to be greatest. Lower weights could also be attributed to human disturbance levels. Chicks disturbed on a regular basis, may not be able to spend as much time foraging as chicks that are not disturbed as often.


One of the true highlights of this season has been overseeing so many chicks across all of our study sites! Twenty-seven of our study chicks have made it to fledge so far. There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching them spread their wings for the first time. It never ceases to bring a smile to my face as their tiny feet pitter-patter across the sand (and my heart), their perfect wings open up, and suddenly…lift off!


There is still some time left in the season for some more tiny miracles to happen on our beaches, so keep your fingers crossed and send them lots of luck as they finish up their breeding season here in New Jersey!


Learn more:


Emily Heiser is the Biological Assistant for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


Video Showcases EagleCam Lesson Plan Contest Winner Diane Cook

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
New Video Highlights Diane Cook’s Eagle Banding Experience and Classroom

By: Kathleen Wadiak, Wildlife Conservation Intern


This year, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and Duke Farms worked together to organize a contest in which educators could submit lesson plans based on the Duke Farms EagleCam, a webcam providing a live stream of a bald eagle nest. The winner, computer literacy teacher Diane Cook, had the opportunity to assist biologists in banding the eagle chicks from a nest in Hunterdon County. The new video showcasing Diane gives an up close and personal view into her story and her experience!


Diane has been incorporating the EagleCam into her lessons since the cam first went online in 2008, helping to inspire a respect for the animals and environment in her students from kindergarten to fourth grade. Diane also teaches her students about internet safety, web forums, and writing.


The Duke Farms EagleCam allows educators to connect their lessons to important environmental issues in a way that is interesting to their students. Teachers like Diane Cook are making a difference by encouraging children to care about their impact on local ecosystems and wildlife.


Learn more:


Kathleen Wadiak is a Wildlife Conservation Intern with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Impacts from Severe Weather minimal

Friday, June 26th, 2015
Nesting ospreys fared well from June 23rd storms on B. Bay

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We had some pretty insane weather blow through on Tuesday evening. I saw it first hand while driving to Long Beach Island to visit some relatives in town. The storm front brought high winds and driving rain to the area. The National Weather Service has even declared that there was even a water spout in Brant Beach (which was right where I was driving on the LBI Blvd. southward). Winds gusted to 70-80mph blowing all sorts of debris (and lawn furniture) across the road. I immediately pulled over to where I was protected from the wind. While I sat there I thought of all the osprey nests out on the bay with young in them…

Photo by Ben Wurst

One is better than none! Photo by Ben Wurst

At this time of year almost all nests have young. They range in age from only hatchlings to 4 week old nestlings. Some can be easily blown from shallow or weakly built nests and can be easily blown from the top of nesting platforms. This has happened in the past (in 2012 when we had a “derecho” blow through the area in late June) and almost half the young present were blown from their nests (in Absecon).

To get a better idea of what we experienced, I asked Jonathan Carr, with Weather NJ, what we saw. This would also give me a better idea of what to expect when conducted post-storm surveys. “What we saw in SNJ on Tuesday was a bow echo as evident by radar signature. A macroburst hit SWNJ which generated substantial straight line winds that fueled the system all the way to the coast. In addition, multiple rotation signatures were picked up via velocity analysis which sparked the tornado warnings in perfect alignment from PA through SWNJ and ultimately the Jersey Shore. The NWS officially ruled the incident near Brant Beach a waterspout but little damage was done from such. All damage across SNJ was again, from straight line wind gusts which reached 80mph in several locations. Harvey Cedars actually clocked a 92mph wind gust. I wasn’t surprised given that instability and wind parameters were screaming for this to happen in the prior 24 hours, especially with the cold front trigger moving through. These type of winds are disastrous for any coastal wildlife or nesting grounds with open exposures.”

With that news on the weather front, I knew we’d have young ospreys on the ground. On Wednesday I got my first report from Osprey watchers Ray and Leslee on Cedar Run Dock Rd. They noticed the adults acting funny, who were now on the ground and not on the nest (where they were before the storm). I gave Leslee permission to walk out to the nest. She found two 3 week old young on the ground. I had plans that day so I couldn’t make it there until 9pm. But when I met Leslee and Ray the nestlings were still on the ground. We picked them up and put them back into the nest (and we also fed a good amount of mosquitoes!!)

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

The following day we rallied to get out on our boat to conduct some more “post-storm surveys,” the first of the season. We checked nests from Bonnet Island to Loveladies and Barnegat. A total of 18 active nests were surveyed. At the first nest we checked we found four young (this nest has failed to produce young for the past two years, amazing!)!! The second had two nestlings in the nest and none were found on the ground. GREAT! But, as the clouds moved in the survey took a darker turn… The next nest we checked was empty but had the remains of a very young osprey. Then the next one had two alive in the nest and one dead on the ground (a 14 day old). The next two nests had 2 and 3 young in them and they all looked very healthy. Then at the next nest we saw the whole nest down on the marsh. When we dug through it we found the bodies of two young. They were instantly crushed under the weight of the nest. So sad. The adult female was still sitting on the nest, surely hoping they were found alive. :( It is now too late to get out to other areas to rescue young. I have learned that young are NOT fed when they are grounded. So there is little chance that any young would still be alive if found on the ground. Future surveys will determine how many other areas were affected by the strong storms.

Despite the gloomy outcome, nests in this severely impacted area had overall good results. We counted a total of 27 young from 18 active nests which gives us an average productivity rate of 1.5 young (per active-known-outcome nest). This is almost twice the level needed to sustain the population. Most young were around 17 days old. Only five were banded for future tracking.

It’s too early to tell how the entire population will fare this year. It could be a down year, with reports of no large schools of menhaden that are close to shore. Menhaden (bunker) are one of the most crucial food sources for many coastal species, including osprey.

Photos from the Survey:
Photo by Ben Wurst

Remains of a young osprey. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

One. Two. Three. All in the nest! Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

The oldest in this historic nest got a little feisty. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Photo by Ben Wurst

Young that were found on the ground were decomposing very quickly. We moved them out of sight from the adults. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

An empty nest off Loveladies. Last year this nest was productive. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A week old chick and an egg on a channel marker nest of LBI. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A four week old nestling that was banded with a red auxiliary band for future tracking. Photo by Ben Wurst

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