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Posts Tagged ‘American Oystercatcher Working Group’

Band Resighting Sheds New Light on Delaware Bay Oystercatcher Population

Thursday, December 14th, 2023

When CWF began monitoring American oystercatchers nesting on the Delaware Bay this past spring, we also set out to place field-readable bands on as many oystercatcher adults and chicks as logistically possible. Band resights allow biologists to collect a wealth of information about site fidelity, habitat use, dispersal, and migration, especially when data is collected over many years. Since the Delaware Bay population of oystercatchers was previously unmonitored, we have a lot to learn about their life histories and how they may differ from other oystercatchers in the state, if at all. Where are these birds staging and wintering? Do breeding adults return to the same mates and nesting locations each year? Where do fledged chicks disperse, and will they return to their natal grounds on the Delaware Bay to breed upon reaching sexual maturity? Banding efforts, combined with resight data reported by biologists, dedicated volunteers, and the general public will help answer these questions (and more) as we increase the number of marked individuals on the Bayshore.

Orange C41 (aka “Crouton”) being equipped with a metal federal band on the lower leg. The color of the field-reable bands on the upper legs represents which state the bird was banded in (New Jersey and New York use orange), while the alphanumeric code on the band is unique to the individual bird. All handling of birds is conducted by trained individuals under proper permits.

Oystercatcher Project in Flight

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Surveying American Oystercatchers from the Sky

By Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist

Stephanie Egger of CWFNJ, before take off.

Stephanie Egger of CWFNJ before take off.

If you happened to be taking a stroll on a chilly February afternoon on the beaches of New Jersey and you saw a blue and white Cessna in the sky flying in a not-so-straight pattern, well that was me in the back of the teeny 4-seater plane.  Last Tuesday I helped complete the New Jersey segment of the American oystercatcher winter survey, which is being directed by Shiloh Schulte from the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, in partnership with the American Oystercatcher Working Group. Other staff from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the State’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program were on the beach (or in a boat) “ground-truthing” the survey in order to verify the data that were collected during the flight.

Flight Path

Flight path during one portion of the New Jersey survey for American oystercatchers.

After swallowing a motion sickness pill as a precautionary measure (thanks Shiloh!) our four hour flight took off early afternoon from the Cape May County Airport, starting with a survey of Cape May Inlet.  We continued our flight north, surveying Hereford, Townsend’s, Corson’s, Great Egg Harbor, Absecon, Brigantine, Little Egg, Barnegat, and Manasquan Inlets and finally Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area.  We saw flocks of wintering oystercatchers, from a handful to up to 140 birds, using sand and marsh habitats.  It was quite the first-time experience for me. Surveying from the air is NOT the easiest, but especially if a flock is seen at the last second and the plane has to bank hard. I admit I even glanced around for a sick bag a few times, but stayed strong! I don’t get seasick or airsick, but flying in a Cessna and doing numerous turns and banking was a whole new feeling.  There were many times all I could see from the backseat was water with no horizon to focus on, all while attempting to take good photographs of the flocks for the count. Try doing that when you are sideways!  In the end I managed to do really well at both, taking photos of the flocks and not getting sick during my aerial survey. Go me! (more…)