Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Volunteer Programs’ Category

Eaglets Get a New Nest

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

by: Larissa Smith, CWF Senior Biologist

Princeton eaglets in their new nest; photo by John Heilferty

The Princeton eagle nest collapsed sometime between Friday June 2nd and early Saturday June 3rd. The Princeton pair had two chicks that were ten weeks old and close to fledging. NJ Eagle Project volunteers, Kevin and Karin Buynie monitor this nest and went out as soon as they were notified. When they arrived one chick was perched up in the tree and one was on the ground. The grounded chick was taken to Mercer County Wildlife Center for evaluation. The next day Kevin returned to the nest site and found the second chick now on the ground, so that chick was also captured and taken to MCWC. Both chicks were found to be uninjured and ready to return to the nest. A plan was formed to build a new nest in the tree and renest the two chicks. On June 11th, a group of volunteers and staff from Mercer County Wildlife Center met at the nest site. John Heilferty, retired ENSP Chief, climbed the nest tree and built the nest as volunteers helped to send up the needed materials. Diane Nickerson with the MCWC brought the two chicks, which were banded with Green NJ band H/39 and H/38 and silver federal bands. The chicks were then placed back up in the nest. One of them decided to fledge and the other perched on a branch near the nest. The recently fledged chick did return to the nest that evening and the second chick fledged June 16th. Thank you to Karin and Kevin Buynie, Diane Nickerson and volunteers Daniel and Hope with Mercer County Wildlife, John Heilferty, Kim Korth, and Roger Smith.

Scroll through the slideshow to view photos from the renest.

A Day in the Life of a Shorebird Steward

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

By: Cara Franceschini, CWF Summer 2023 Intern

In the May 16th blog, Shorebird Stewards On the Bay in May, it’s mentioned that some beaches along the Delaware Bay have restricted access every year from May 7th to June 7th. This is due to the migratory shorebirds that travel thousands of miles and need a place to stop to feed. Our beaches contain excellent food sources to help birds gain weight to continue their journey- horseshoe crab eggs. They are filled
with fat and protein. The Delaware Bay is the largest spawning area for horseshoe crabs in the world!

Now what do the Shorebird Stewards, such as myself, do all day? We monitor our assigned
beaches and educate the public about this incredible phenomenon! My favorite beaches are
Roosevelt Blvd. beach and Cook’s Beach because I see the most active flocks of shorebirds at
these locations.


A group of the infamous Red Knots: Calidris canutus, Semipalmated Sandpipers: Calidrus pusilla,
and Ruddy Turnstones: Arenaria interpres, at the beach on Roosevelt Blvd., photo: C. Franceschini

On a quiet day with not many people to educate, there are many things for us Stewards to do.
Some Stewards read their books, watch movies, listen to music/podcasts, color/paint, take
walks, research, etc. I do all of the above! Since we have a love for these special shorebirds,
most Stewards also birdwatch! It’s a must to bring your binoculars or scope to observe these
beautiful birds. Sometimes, you observe other interesting animals, too!

Another activity to do in the down-time is to flip the spawning Atlantic Horseshoe crabs, Limulus
polyphemus
, back onto their legs so they can crawl back into the bay. When the tide rise, these
crabs get overturned by the waves and have no way of returning back to their feet! Personally,
this is my favorite activity to do. When you return after your “crab walk”, you get to see the
tracks of their feet traveling back into the bay where they belong. Below on the left is a picture of
flipped and rescued crabs: the one on the left is a male who decided to bury himself in the sand
to preserve water until the tide comes back in, and the one on the right is a male who decided to
make the trek back into the bay. When the tide comes in, the horseshoe crabs come up
and begin spawning. Pictured below in the middle is an example of how crowded the beaches
get with these creatures! On the right, is a photo of a tagged crab I found, and reported it to
the US Fish and Wildlife Service so that they can collect data on the tagged crabs.

You can also get involved with helping these critters! “Return the Favor” is an organization
dedicated to conducting beach walks to flip overturned horseshoe crabs on the NJ beaches of the Delaware Bay. You can join public walks that are held by walk leaders or sign up to be a volunteer
and conduct your own walk (until July 15th, 2023 or next year). I am a volunteer and walk leader
and it is one of my favorite things to do. Flipping horseshoe crabs is such a special event
because that means you’re saving those crabs so they can continue to spawn and produce eggs
for the shorebirds. With your help, you could help save hundreds of crabs just by flipping
them over! Of course I had to capture this special moment of me flipping a crab (picture below)!

On these walks, you experience much more than just crabs. You get to see other wildlife that
emerges during dusk or dawn. You can also go on the closed beaches to save the crabs that
can’t be rescued during the day. During my walk, I got to see thousands of horseshoe crab
eggs!

NJ Bald Eagle Nesting Season Underway

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

by: CWF Senior Biologist, Larissa Smith

Green band D/25; banded in April 2011 at the Manasquan River; photo by; Rich Nicol

Bald Eagles are the earliest nesting birds in New Jersey. Two pairs of eagles laid eggs in December of 2022 and those nests have already hatched. Those pairs are the really early “birds”, so far 73 pairs of eagles are incubating (laid eggs). Nest Monitors are keeping an eye on over 300 known eagle territories in NJ, the bulk of which lay their eggs in February to mid-March. Eagles incubate for approximately 35 days before hatching occurs. The female does most of the incubating the male also takes over the incubation duties so the female can go out and hunt. One hundred and fifty nest monitors keep track of the eagle nests and report on incubation. It can be quite difficult to tell when an eagle is in the nest incubating. Sometimes all the nest monitor can see is just the top of the head pop up every now and then. One way to determine incubation at a nest is to witness a “nest exchange”, where the male and female switch incubation duty.

Over the next few months as the eagles incubate and hatch chicks, they are very sensitive to disturbance. Nest Monitors are trained and experienced and only view the nest from a location that doesn’t disturb the eagles. Monitors use high powered scopes and cameras to determine the status of the nest. While it’s always a great sight to see an eagle, please respect them and view from a distance. To see what goes on in an eagles nest close up check out the Duke Farms eagle cam. The pair is currently incubating two eggs and hatching of the first is expected around February 24th. You can also watch a pair of eagles at The Three Bridges eagle cam. They aren’t yet nesting and we’re not sure where they will nest this season, but they have been making frequent appearances at the nest tower.

photo by Jim McClain

New Jersey Eagles Soar to New Heights in 2022

Saturday, January 21st, 2023

by: Larissa Smith, CWF Senior Biologist

photo by NJ Eagle Project Nest Monitor, Paul Lenzo

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Fish and Wildlife have released the 2022 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report. The 2022 eagle nesting season was a record year for New Jersey’s nesting eagle population with 250 active nests identified.

The 250 active nests (meaning the nests produced eggs) represent an increase of 28 active nests since 2021. Of those nests, 83 percent were successful and collectively produced 335 offspring. The productivity rate for nests with known outcomes was 1.42 young per nest, which is above the range required to maintain healthy population numbers. The 2022 NJ Bald Eagle Report includes details on the nesting season, resightings and recoveries.

One of the three fledges from the 2022 Manville nest: photo by NJ Nest Monitor, Rose Joy

These numbers could not have been achieved or documented without the dedicated efforts of the
150 New Jersey Eagle Project volunteers who conduct the majority of the nest-observation work
vital to tracking the population and nest distribution of our state’s Bald eagles in all 21 counties.
CWF is honored to manage these volunteers in partnership with the Endangered and Nongame
Species Program and thanks them for their invaluable service.

CWF would also like to thank our partners, who make our bald eagle conservation work
possible, including PSE&G, Wells Fargo Advisors, Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite Stores,
Mercer County Parks, Wildlife Center Friends, the American Eagle Foundation, and the
Zoological Society of New Jersey.

A Kestrel Story

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Diane Cook, CWF volunteer

As a volunteer for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and NJ’s Wildlife Conservation Corps I monitor bald eagle, osprey, and kestrel nests for the state. Kestrel monitoring is new to me this year. They are North
America’s smallest falcon. I enjoy watching them hunt, hovering over the grasslands
and open fields. Monitors watch and record milestones of the nesting season. Fledge
Day is the end of our season and what we hope to witness.
Friday – I knew the chicks would be fledging soon, and hoped I had not missed it. I sat in
my vehicle and watched for just over 3 hours! I could hear noise from inside the box as
wings were being flapped and exercised. For the longest time, I thought one had
already fledged since I was just seeing one perched in the box opening.

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