Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Wildlife News’ Category

From Lost to Found: E97’s Story

Friday, April 5th, 2024

by: Larissa Smith, Senior Biologist

During the 2020 NJ Bald Eagle nesting season the Camden B pair hatched and raised two chicks. This nest was located along the Cooper River, in Camden County on a small parcel of undeveloped land in a very urban area.

Camden B eagle nest with 6 week old chicks May 14, 2020: photo by: Marilyn Henry

On June 5, we received notification that the nest had fallen from the tree during a storm, at that time the two chicks were approximately nine weeks old. They were too young to fly since eagle don’t fledge until at least 11 weeks of age. At nine weeks of age they are the size of an adult eagle so they would be noticeable on the ground. Despite an extensive search by staff and volunteers there were no signs of the two nestlings.

Fallen Camden B nest, June 8, 2020

Local wildlife rehab centers were notified in case the young eagles were found and brought in for care. At that point we could only speculate on their fate. Then on June 28, NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife Law Enforcement was alerted to eagles being held in a dog pen at a residence in Camden. NJDFW Conservation Officers visited the home and found the two missing eagle chicks. At this point the young eagles were twelve weeks old and should have fledged if they were still in the nest.

Camden eagles in dog pen; June 28th, 2020: photo K. Clark

The eagles had been kept in the basement and fed hotdogs and chicken. Fortunately for the chicks they were moved outside and an alert citizen reported the captive eagles. They were taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research for evaluation and treatment. After a week in rehab it was determined that they were healthy enough to be released. By this time the adults were no longer actively in the area of the nest tree. After eagle chicks fledge they still spend a few weeks in the nest area with the adults, learning to survive on their own. It was decided to release the two eagles in a remote area of Cumberland County. On July 9 the two Camden eagles were released at the site.

E/96 & E/97 at release, Diving Creek Cumberland County

Staff and volunteers temporarily provided supplemental food (fish and road-killed mammals). The release area has a large population of juvenile and sub-adult eagles who could provide the social learning the young eagles needed. A trail camera was set up at the food drop. E/97 wasn’t seen again at the release site. Her sibling, E/96 was seen in the area several times after her release.

On March 18th, 2024, Kathy Clark with NJENSP received an email from Jerry amEnde regarding a green banded eagle he photographed at Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware.

The banded eagle was E/97! We are thrilled to know that despite her not having a “traditional” start to her life, she has to survived to become a gorgeous four year old eagle.

E/97 , March 18, 2024: photo by Jerry am Ende

Nor’easter and Prey Shortage Impacts Nesting Ospreys in 2023

Friday, February 16th, 2024

by Ben Wurst / Senior Wildlife Biologist

A surfer and osprey at the beach on Long Beach Island. July 2023.

In coastal New Jersey, during spring and summer the recovery of ospreys is apparent. They grace the skies of most ocean front beaches from Sandy Hook to Cape May in search of prey. Their nests line our shorelines and can be found in a variety of nest structures. Today there are over 800 pairs of ospreys who nest all across New Jersey. Results from the 2023 nesting season illustrate how the osprey population continues to grow but with reduced reproductive success due to extremes in weather and reduced prey availability.


“Jersey Girl”: 20 Years and Going Strong

Monday, February 5th, 2024

by: Larissa Smith, Senior Biologist

“Jersey Girl” (in rear) and mate 2024 photo by: Linda Oughton

One of my favorite things about working with the NJ Eagle Project is when we receive resighting’s of New Jersey banded eagles. Especially when that eagle is in a pair and nesting. One eagle that we’ve been following over the years, is fondly named “Jersey Girl” due to her NJ origins. She was reported to us in 2014 by Linda Oughton, who has been keeping track of her and her mate since 2010.

“Jersey Girl” showing bands; photo by Linda Oughton

Jersey Girl and her mate nest in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She was one of three chicks banded May 10th 2004 at the Hopewell West, nest which is located in Cumberland County along the Cohansey River. She was banded with green band B-64. That means that this May “Jersey Girl” will be twenty years old!

Since 2010 the pair has successfully raised and fledged a total of 20 young eagles. The pair is not yet incubating this season and Linda reports that they usually start on Valentine’s Day. The pair is well loved by neighbors and people who walk along the Perkiomen Creek, where the pair often fishes.

It’s so wonderful to know that an eagle I helped band almost 20 years ago has survived and raised 20 chicks of her own.

“Jersey Girl’s” nest; photo taken from road by Linda Oughton.

Thank you to Linda Oughton for keeping us updated on Jersey Girl

2023 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

by Larissa Smith, Senior Wildlife Biologist

The NJDEP Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey have published the New Jersey Bald Eagle Project, 2023. The NJ eagle population continues to thrive. During the 2023 nesting season, 286 nest sites were monitored of these 255 pairs were active (laid eggs). This is a slight increase of 5 active nests from 2022. This season 309 young eagles were documented to have fledged, this number is a down from 2022’s high of 335 young fledged. The productivity rate of 1.28 young per active nest is above the 1.0 young per nest needed for population maintenance.

Fifty-four nest failed to fledge young this season, this means that the pair laid eggs, but the eggs failed to hatch or the chicks did not make it to fledging. There could be many reasons for nest failure including weather events, nest/tree collapse, disturbance by humans or intruder eagles. The NJ eagle population is doing well but they still need monitoring and protection. There is constant pressure for development in NJ and if we don’t know about a nest we can’t help to protect it. Eagles are nesting in all 21 NJ counties, from remote marshes in southern New Jersey to suburban neighborhoods. How the ENSP and CWF protects these nests is on a nest by nest basis. We couldn’t do this without the dedicated group of 150 NJ Eagle Project volunteers who not only monitor the eagle nests, but help minimize disturbance to nests by educating the public about NJ’s eagle population.

Forsythe NWR, eagles fight over prey, 12/16/23 photo by Rich Nicol

The 2024 NJ Bald Eagle season is underway with eight pairs currently incubating. A great way to see what goes on in an eagles nest is to watch the Duke Farms eagle cam. The female should be laying the first egg any day now.

We’d like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors, donors and friends of the NJ Eagle Project

New Jersey Peregrine Falcons: 50 Years of Recovery

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

by Ben Wurst / Senior Wildlife Biologist

Two peregrine falcon eyases after being banded at a nest in southern New Jersey.

It’s no surprise to hear that peregrine falcons have made a remarkable recovery since being extirpated from New Jersey in the mid-1960s. From the cliffs of the Palisades to bridges and buildings in our urban areas and along our entire coast, peregrines can be seen at many locations throughout the state. Today the population has been holding steady with 40 (known) pairs and at least 35 active nests over the last couple years. This is due to protection through the Endangered Species Conservation Act, where biologists worked tirelessly to jumpstart their recovery efforts by “hacking” young falcons and the banning of harmful pollutants, like DDT.