Citizen Science
Lower Raritan

This project is a collaborative effort of New Jersey Audubon and Raritan Valley Community College, funded through National Audubon’s and Toyota’s TogetherGreen program.

 The purpose of the project is: 

    • Involve community college students in clean-ups along the Raritan River
    • Document the abundance and distribution of breeding birds and rare plants in urban habitats through student and public participation
    • Develop and implement Raritan-based classroom and community service activities to increase environmental awareness and conservation ethic of community college students

      Why a Lower Raritan bird survey?

      Despite the environmental pressure to which they have been subjected, the Raritan River and Estuary provide important fishery and migratory bird habitats. Bird species include hawks, passerines, waterfowl, loons, grebes and shorebirds. The federally listed piping plover and peregrine falcon have also been found here. This wetland system filters and absorbs pollutants from the Raritan River and Bay and is important due to the regional scarcity of estuarine wetlands in the area. Threats to this system include extreme pressure from commercial and residential developments.

      New Jersey Audubon (NJA) has been involved in surveys of urban habitats for birds for the past 30 years. Richard Kane, former Vice-president of Conservation, began conducting surveys and reporting on the Meadowlands' avifauna in 1975. Much of this work has been published in Records of New Jersey Birds (e.g., Kane 1983, Kane 1978, Kane 1976).   In 1991 Rich Kane headed up a team of NJA staff that conducted the first year-long inventory of the Arthur Kill (Kane et al. 1991) and in 1994-95, Kane and staff conducted the first year-long inventory of the Meadowlands (Kane and Githens 1997). Much of what we currently know about the seasonal occurrences of avian species in the urban New Jersey wetlands is based on this work. 

      In 2009, NJA conducted an inventory of breeding birds in habitats along the Lower Raritan River with support from the Edison Wetlands Association (EWA). This initial survey will provide baseline information on bird use in the area. The results of this type of study can be used to help set site acquisition priorities, and direct management and restoration activities related to reducing fragmentation and contamination and improving habitats for wildlife.




      The 2012 Lower Raritan Survey

      This project was a NJ Audubon effort, funded through National Audubon’s and Toyota’s TogetherGreen program and in collaboration with Raritan Valley Community College.  The purpose was to document, monitor, and bring attention to the important wildlife habitats that remain undeveloped along the heavily industrialized and urbanized Raritan River, as well as to connect local residents to these habitats.  We held several well-attended training sessions at the Highland Park Environmental Education Center, Duke Farms, and NJ Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve.  In 2012, we obtained valuable baseline data on the abundance and distribution of bird species in the watershed which will be used to guide conservation efforts in the area.  46 Citizen Scientists and staff conducted over 500 bird surveys at more than 250 locations throughout the watershed between May 26th and June 30th, and tallied 107 species!  Many additional species were seen during optional migration surveys. Results of the summer component of the field season are summarized in a final report. 

      Will there be a 2013 season?

      We won't be recruiting new volunteers for the 2013 season due to limited funding. However, we will be asking 2012 participants to resurvey their points this summer so that we can continue to collect this important data. 2013protocol and datasheets can be downloaded here. 


      If you would like to know more


      Nellie Tsipoura

      11 Hardscrabble Road

      PO Box 693, Bernardsville NJ 07924




      Results of the 2009 Lower Raritan survey

      Results of the 2012 Lower Raritan survey (breeding season) 


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