Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘WildlifeNJ’

Survival of the Fittest Falcons

Thursday, May 27th, 2021
Female falcon 02/AN. She originated from a coastal nest in Bass River in 2011. Here she was photographed at her nest in May 2020 at Sedge Island.

Just imagine having to defend your home from an invader who wants to steal your home and mate. All you have to protect yourself and home are your bare hands (or talons). You fought this same battle several years ago and staked your claim here. It was a hard won battle that could have been the end.


A Tribute to Bobby “Twist” Jetton: 2020 Barnegat Light Osprey Cam

Friday, March 19th, 2021

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

During the peak of my field season last year I exchanged emails with a kind man who reported terrapins nesting in his yard. He wanted to do everything he could to ensure their success. A couple weeks later Bobby reached out to say how much him and mom loved the Barnegat Light Osprey Cam and how “the birds generally wake her up before her alarm.” He also mentioned how she delayed gardening because “dad is due with a fish any minute now. I’m just waiting to note the time then I’ll go play.” She was contributing observations of prey deliveries for research we conducted at the BL Osprey Cam last summer.


“Wild New Jersey” Celebrates 10 Years with Monthly Blog Adventures in 2021

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Book excerpts each month to be accompanied by timely wildlife updates

by David Wheeler

Growing up in suburban and coastal New Jersey, I was fascinated by wildlife from my earliest days. Whether catching frogs in the neighborhood, or collecting safari cards and watching Nature specials on Komodo dragons, wildlife both local and global captured my imagination like nothing else. My studies and early career focused on other areas, such as writing and communications, but the great outdoors was never far from my thoughts.

When the time was right, I decided to write what would become my book, “Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.” I spent time with many of the top scientists and naturalists in the state, as I devoted all my free time for a year to undertaking a whirlwind journey around New Jersey, experiencing its wildlife, nature destinations, and outdoor activities first-hand.

It has now been 10 years since “Wild New Jersey” was published. In those ensuing years, I became the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation, the dynamic organization that had featured so prominently in my book. Many themes I covered then resound even more today. The across-the-board impacts of climate change on New Jersey’s wildlife. Escalating land development, particularly in suburban areas. An even greater emphasis on protecting wildlife corridors and contiguous habitat. An increasing awareness of many species thriving in urban areas against daunting odds.

For better or worse, the populations of most of New Jersey species I highlighted 10 years ago have continued on the same trends of recovery or decline. That’s good news for bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and ospreys, along with bobcats and coyotes. It’s more worrisome for many bat, amphibian and reptile species, as well as many songbirds, shorebirds, and pollinators.

Sadly, a few of the wildlife pioneers and conservation heroes with whom I was privileged to spend time or enjoy conversations while writing my book have since passed away, including field biologist Charles Kontos, Len Soucy, founder of the Raptor Trust, and Dery Bennett, founder of American Littoral Society. Their legacies carry forward today as strong as ever.

David Wheeler and his son on a more recent “Wild New Jersey” adventure in Barnegat Bay. Photo by Ben Wurst

With our past year marked by serious restrictions on both our interaction with others and the activities we can enjoy, many New Jerseyans may have a building list of adventures that we are considering once safety permits. Thankfully, these options haven’t changed much at all over the 10 years since I wrote “Wild New Jersey.” With the right timing and guides, we still can go out and enjoy dog sledding, birding on the open ocean, mountain hikes in bear country, and nighttime treks through a cranberry bog – or, on the more serene side, pontoon boat wildlife tours, river floats, seining, and bird walks led by top experts.

Those kinds of adventures are still out there for the taking in every corner of the state. Some of it can be done right now, while other trips may have to wait until we get further along in our fight against COVID-19.

In the meantime, I am excited to celebrate 10 years of Wild New Jersey with you. For the next year, Conserve Wildlife Foundation will run a seasonal excerpt each month, along with updated commentary giving context to a featured species, habitat, or locale.

Join me on Friday in kicking off our series with a book excerpt and update on the unlikely return of a predator to New Jersey’s wilds.

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

Photos from the Field: Raising up hope in 2021

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Eagle Scout candidate Kyle Agudo and Boy Scout Troop 61 give ospreys a boost in the new year

Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Troop 61 lift an osprey nest platform into place on the coastal saltmarsh. photo by Kathy Agudo.

Humans have played a key role in the recovery and stability of nesting ospreys throughout New Jersey and beyond. Today around 75% of the population, close to 500 pairs, rely on nest platforms designed specifically for them. They provide a stable nest platform, adequate perches, and protection from potential ground predators, aka raccoons. Many platforms are located in very close proximity to people, which make for excellent viewing and educational opportunities. Ospreys are a symbol of a healthy coast and resiliency in a dynamic region.



Monday, November 30th, 2020

‘Tis the season for osprey nest platform repairs — and being thankful for the volunteers who make it happen!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors clean out nesting material from a 20-30 year old nest platform.

After migratory birds depart, leaves fall and northwest winds prevail, a small group of dedicated volunteers descend on our coastal saltmarshes. They’re there to maintain osprey nest platforms. Around 75% of our nesting ospreys rely on these wooden structures to reproduce. They were used to help jumpstart the early recovery efforts of ospreys in coastal New Jersey, where much of their native habitat was lost to development in the 1950-60s. Today many of these platforms are reaching their life span or are very close.