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Northern Bobwhite Persist in the Snow!

On Wednesday January 27, 2016, just 4 days after the blizzard that dumped over 20” of snow in the Pinelands, NJ Audubon staff and research partners were able to verify that all radio collared Northern Bobwhite are doing well following the blizzard.

Using telemetry the radio collared birds were tracked and found to be alive and part of larger coveys that included other quail from last year’s broods. The quail were found to be utilizing cover provided by young pines in areas where forestry had occurred. The young pines were bent and bowed by the snow creating a home farm snow (PARKE)(patchwork of “lean-tos” that blocked out drifts, created pockets of bare ground and seemingly provided both shelter and areas to forage. The cover provided by the young pines appears significant as research staff found other birds, including several Mourning Doves and a Pine Warbler, frozen solid, with no signs of mortality due to predators, under deadfalls and brush piles that were exposed in open field or edges where snow drifts were able to accumulate.Quail tracks in snow 1-27-16 at home farm PIC site(PARKE)

Climatic factors such as serve weather events (snow, drought, floods, etc.) influence the Northern Bobwhite’s annual survival and can be devastating to Bobwhite populations, especially where quail habitat is of low quality. Even in areas of high quality habitat, severe climatic factors may reduce populations to a dangerously low level. However, the Bobwhite is a survivor, a resilient species that with quality cover to meet their habitat needs, the Bobwhite’s potential for reproduction allows the species to recover.

The Northern Bobwhite Restoration Initiative in NJ is dependent upon: (1) areas of high quality habitat and (2); the translocation of true wild birds, not pen raised, with both factors providing significant advantage in the face of severe storm events. The release site at Pine Island Cranberry has been stewarded through the implementation of a Forest Stewardship Plan, creating patches of young forest habitat suitable for quail and rich in cover and food resources. In addition, the wild birds are known to more quickly adapt and yield offspring that also exhibit innate survival instincts.

Fossil records show that quail-like birds existed at least a million years ago, but their appearance in most of the northern states across their range probably did not occur until sometime after retreat of the last glacier, approximately 10,000 years ago. Over the last 10,000 years serve storm events obviously have occurred and through it all the Bobwhite has persisted.

quail flush jan 27 2016While we still have a bit of winter to go, seeing that the quail have made it through this first significant weather event since their release in NJ, helps to reinforce the message that more people need to recognize, the need for more active stewardship and management of land to produce high quality wildlife habitat. Years of fire suppression and an overall lack of disturbance have left the forest of the pinelands overstocked, and devoid of resources that Northern Bobwhite and other birds and wildlife typically rely upon. With stewardship and management high quality habitat can be created, yielding a diversity of native species and providing the ecological services that these habitats historically and naturally provided. Native species, including the Northern Bobwhite, all provide ecological, historical, esthetic, recreational, scientific and educational value and are so important to maintaining a stable ecosystem for generations to come.

To see project researcher Kaili Stevens tracking the Bobwhite at Pine Island on January 27, 2016 and see one flush watch the video that is on our Quail Update Page.  Click here for Video

For more on the Quail Project see NJ Audubon's Quail webpage http://www.njaudubon.org/SectionConservation/StewardshipInAction/NorthernBobwhiteRestorationInitiative.aspx

Photos By John Parke.  Video By Kaili Stevens

Chimney swifts get a new home

New Jersey Audubon’s Wattles Stewardship Center is poised to welcome Chimney Swifts back to Warren County this spring with a new home. Since 2010 (when NJA acquired the property), we have witnessed Chimney Swifts returning annually to nest in the chimney of the roughly 190 year-old Wattles Stewardship Center. While realizing that the old chimneys need to be capped and cared for, we didn’t want to evict the Chimney Swifts without first ensuring they had a new chimney to go to. With support from the New Jersey Conserve Wildlife Foundation, material donations from the James Hardie Corporation and technical guidance from Scott Burnet and Peter Saegner of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, we set out to build a tower on sight for the Chimney Swifts. During the last few months of 2015 a foundation was set and the tower constructed.

IMG_3433IMG_3794Capping our chimneys is needed to ensure the long-term maintenance of the building, including preventing water and animal intrusions. It is our expectation, that when the birds return in the spring to their traditional nesting site they will find and adopt the new tower. Towers, such as the one at the Wattles Stewardship Center, have been proven successful in providing alternative nesting habitat. To facilitate a smooth transition, our chimneys will remain uncapped during the 2016 nesting period.

Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagic) are among several species of birds that breed in highly urbanized areas and utilize man-made structures for nesting habitat. Specifically, Chimney Swifts nest primarily in chimneys and other artificial sites with vertical surfaces and low light (including air vents, old wells, abandoned cisterns, outhouses, boathouses, garages, silos, barns, lighthouses, and firewood sheds). Changes and modifications to building structures, such as new chimneys with a more narrow flue and the capping of older chimneys, has reduced nesting sites thereby threatening the success of this species. Capping on older buildings may be done for a variety of reasons including: containing sparks and embers, blocking downdrafts, reducing moisture, preventing debris build-up, and keeping wildlife from entering the chimney and potentially becoming trapped.

We will be installing a display board at the site of the tower, with details about Chimney Swifts and Chimney Swift towers. Thanks to Judith Bland for assisting in creating signage. Next time you are out near Washington or Hackettstown, stop by and check out the new tower; come in the spring and watch the birds circle above the entrance as they check it out!

NJ Audubon Wins Ecological Excellence Award for Second Year in a Row

For the second consecutive year the New Jersey Audubon Stewardship Department was awarded the Firman E. Bear Chapter of the2015 SWCS Award addressing Stormwater Soil & Water Conservation Society’s Ecological Excellence Award.  The award is given annually to an individual or organization that displays excellence in an ecological restoration project, unique soil and water conservation project, or innovative habitat development or enhancement project.

The NJA project that was selected this year was the design and construction of several rain gardens at a community center in East Orange utilizing former abandoned dry wells planted with native vegetation. Each rain garden utilized native plants that were representative of regions around the state (i.e. Highlands Region, Piedmont, Pinelands, etc). Each rain garden was then outfitted with an interpretive sign that outlines the region/habitat of NJ it represents and its purpose and water quality benefit. Ultimately the rain gardens collect water from the roof of the facility whereupon rather then discharge directly onto the city streets, the water is allowed to seep slowly into the soil via the vegetation planted in each garden which acts as filtering mechanism.

NJA Stormwater Interpretive signAlthough many cities are required to mark storm drains inlets with messages reminding people that they are connected to local water bodies, it is always a uphill battle to create awareness of how runoff impacts a community's ecological health. With these rain gardens in place they will act as models for visitors to learn how they can divert their roof leader downspouts to create a beautiful garden that would improve local water quality while creating a beautiful natural area that can attract wildlife and help make our cities more attractive places to live.

These gardens help solve water resource challenges in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere and teaches the community about the importance of protecting and creating green spaces in their urban cities and hopefully create a sense of wonder and appreciation for wildlife and natural systems. The project provides the physical visual experience in the five concept categories for conservation education: Habitat; natural communities; ecosystems; human ecological impact; and stewardship, all the while reinforcing the concept that rain gardens are an important way to make our cities more attractive places to live and will build urban ecological health through multidisciplinary water resources education and management.

We received several excellent applications for the award,” said Stephanie Murphy, Ph.D., Chapter President of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. “But the review committee felt NJA’s project stood out because of the high impact of conservation in the urban neighborhood. The outreach efforts, educational value and relative beauty of the project certainly will encourage other individuals and groups to follow their example and have beneficial results for people and the environment,” added Murphy.

New Jersey Audubon would like to express sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Firman E. Bear Chapter of the Soil & Water Conservation Society, as well as, Pinelands Nursery and the committee for selecting our project for the award and the Chapter for continuing to support and encourage science-based conservation practice, programs, and policy. We also would like to thank the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the NJ Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program and the Metro YMCA for their support and assistance with the project.

Addressing stormwater runoff is just one of the many environmental issues that New Jersey Audubon is working on to make NJ a better place for people and wildlife. Be it in urban/suburban areas, agricultural regions, or NJ’s wild lands, clean water is under attack from numerous stressors and we need your help. Through funding received from the William Penn Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NJ Audubon is currently seeking landowners and farmers in the Lower Musconetcong River, Upper Paulin’s Kill River and Lopatcong River Sub-Watersheds of the Highlands region of New Jersey, as well as in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer region of Southern NJ, who are interested in potentially receiving funding and technical expertise focused on water quality improvement practices and implementation of agricultural and forest Best Management Practices. For more information please contact john.parke@njaudubon.org for the Highlands region and jean.lynch@njaudubon.org for the Kirkwood-Cohansey region.

Corporate Stewardship Council Members Team Up for Critical Wildlife Habitat Restoration

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and NJ Audubon’s (NJA) newest Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) member, Crystal Springs Resort, have become the first CSC members to “team up” and work collaboratively on a habitat restoration project in northwestern NJ. Specifically the two will be working with NJA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on a long-term project that involves restoring a section of a JCP&L transmission line Row-of-Way (ROW) that traverses through the Black Bear Golf Club located in Franklin, NJ which is part of the Crystal Springs Resort.blue-wing warbler(PARKE)

The project will involve incorporating JCP&L’s ROW integrated vegetation management requirements with the aim of encouraging low-growth vegetation, native warm season grasses and native wildflowers and thus, promoting early successional habitat for native wildlife. Specific target species will be various pollinators, including wild bees and butterflies, as well as, several avian species that depend on early successional habitat types, such as Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler and Indigo Bunting.

“JCP&L is pleased to collaborate with Crystal Springs Resort, New Jersey Audubon and USFWS in this unique and important habitat project,” said Jim Fakult, JCP&L President. “It demonstrates JCP&L’s on-going commitment to protect the environment, remain good stewards of our green bee on boneset in ROW (PARKE)natural resources, promote public health and safety and create lasting value in the communities we serve.”

Current research from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland is showing that the open, grassy or scrubby habitat under some transmission lines are already the best place to find wild native bees and that potential habitat associated with ROW management will inevitably become more important as the United States becomes more urbanized. Additionally, other studies are showing that as regions become more urbanized, golf courses too have the potential for creating significant wildlife benefits, especially in recent conservation efforts for the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, and even American Kestrel.

The beauty of this project is that given Black Bear Golf Club’s position in the landscape, it literately falls in the middle of five (5) recognized New Jersey Important Bird and Birding Areas (IBBA), so any habitat management work associated with the project that removes invasive non-native vegetation and encourages more native vegetation that will be consistently maintained will havePollinators at Crystal Springs(PARKE) a profound impact on long-term viability of native avian populations in the region.

“Crystal Springs will have an important impact on wildlife habitat in the region through their interest in, and commitment to, land stewardship. The extensive properties of Crystal Springs have a lot of value to wildlife species of concern, including species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act,” said Brian Marsh Program Coordinator for the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. “With good land stewardship and working with other CSC members and partners, habitat values can be enhanced for rare pollinator insects and migratory birds on their properties.

This work between JCP&L and Crystal Springs will increase biodiversity and benefits not only wildlife and other natural resources, such as improved soil health and water and air quality, but will also provide educational opportunities. Specifically, interpretative signage will be placed strategically around the course to offer to all that visit the property a chance to learn about the importance of native plants, habitat, wildlife and the ecological services that they provide.

“The Crystal Springs Resort possesses incredibly beautiful and important habitat and we are thrilled to be partnering with New Jersey Audubon in pursuit of ongoing environmental stewardship,” said Art Walton, Vice President of Crystal Springs Resort. “As a destination resort and community hub, we have a unique opportunity to protect, preserve and promote all of our region’s natural assets for the benefit and enlightenment of many,” added Walton. “Working with NJ Audubon, USFWS and fellow CSC member JCP&L has been greatly educational and we look forward to launching many more stewardship initiatives across our diverse array of properties.”

All photos by John Parke 

Annual Mammalian Predator Surveys Completed for Bobwhite Quail Restoration Initiative

Based on years of research conducted by Quail Restoration Initiative project collaborator Tall Timbers Research Station (Tall Timbers), “both avian and mammalian predator populations have increased across the bobwhite’s territory at the same time that bobwhite populations have declined. However, the increase of mammalian predators appears to be greatest” (Palmer, 2000). This group of species, often called mesomammalian predators or meso-predators (i.e., medium-size carnivores) are known to be significant predators of bobwhite quail and their nests (Stoddard 1931, Rollins and Carroll 2001). These meso-predators include: red and gray fox, coyotes, raccoon, opossum, skunks, as well as feral/free-ranging cats. These species also are considered generalists, with a broad diet and habitat requirements (Palmer, 2000).

One of the ways to collect mammal predator abundance data is to perform scent station surveys. These surveys utilize a fatty acid scented bait tablet which attracts mammals to an area where their paw tracks can be identified and recorded. These tablets do not pose a hazard to the animal and are obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

In 2015 as part of the Quail Restoration Initiative, NJ Audubon performed two rounds of mammalian predator abundance surveys utilizing scent stations. These surveys will be conducted on an annual basis for each year of the study.  The goal of these surveys is to establish a baseline for mammalian predator abundance for comparison against future surveys at the study site and for comparison to other study sites. This data will be important for evaluating if meso-predators are a possible limiting factor to re-establishing Northern Bobwhite at the project site.

Utilizing the methodology developed by Tall Timbers, New Jersey Audubon distributed a series of random scent stations across the project site at least 500-yards apart along linear travel lanes such as unimproved roads and fire Researcher Evan Yunker collecting predator data from Scent station(PARKE)breaks. Stations were placed in accessible areas, clear of vegetation, on alternate sides of the lanes within about 5-yards of the lane edge. At each scent station a 1-meter diameter circle was cleared of vegetation to expose the ground surface, which for the subject property was sand. The sand within the circle was broken up to make it loose and then smoothed with an application of animal grade light mineral oil in order to improve animal track impression. One fatty acid tablet (FAS) was then placed in the center of each station and left overnight. The following morning each station was surveyed for tracks. If the station was visited by an animal, the tracks were identified and recorded by the researcher and the sand was made smooth and the FAS tablet replaced if needed. Each survey (one performed during the nesting season in June and one performed in the fall in October) was done for a period of five continuous days. Once all data (track identification) were collected and compiled a calculation was run to determine a percentage value of mammal visitations to the station. This index score provides insight into the mammalian predator community on the property and may provide some guidance as to relating mammalian predator context to bobwhite demographics.

Results of the Predator Abundance Surveys at the Pine Island Cranberry Burlington County, NJ Pinelands Site

Survey Period

Total Amount of mammal visitations at stations

Predator Index Score

Fox (spp)

Eastern Coyote

Raccoon

Virginia Opossum

Striped Skunk

Weasel (spp)

June 2015

35

26.9%

12

13

1

0

6

3

October 2015

37

28.4%

15

5

5

4

2

6

tracks in scent station (PARKE)No other mammalian predator tracks or evidence were encountered during the survey periods, including feral/ free range cats or dogs, bobcat, black bear or mink. For both surveys period, NJA surveyed 26 scent stations at Pine Island for 5 straight days –no rain nights. NOTE: Tall Timber’s research was developed on areas with good to excellent habitat over most of the property. Therefore, other indications of bobwhite population growth should be considered along with this protocol.

According to Tall Timbers’ research: If visitation rates are below 10%, data suggests predation is not a limiting factor on the property. If visitation rates are between 10 and 20%, then depending on habitat, predation may be limiting in some years. However, predation is probably not providing enough pressure on the population to stop the bobwhite population from expanding. If visitation rates greatly exceed 20%, Tall Timbers’ research suggests the bobwhite population may be limited by predation.

Based on the results of the first year of mammalian predator abundance surveying at the Pine Island Cranberry Project site, mammalian predator visitation did not greatly exceed the 20% threshold therefore it is most likely that mammalian predation is not a large concern at the current time at the Pine Island site as far as having a significant impact on the bobwhite population from expanding. Additionally, no evidence of feral/free range cats were detected during survey both survey periods, nor have any, or evidence thereof, ever been observed on the Pine Island site during all telemetry field work conducted throughout the year. This is significant when comparing results from other predator surveys conducted by NJDFW at four separate Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Cumberland County designated as Quail Focal Regions. Results from those MWA surveys indicated that feral/free-ranging cats made up approximately 14.81% of the total visitations for the survey periods. According to the NJ Northern Bobwhite Action Plan (NJDFW, 2011), “domestic cats caused 10.1% of total bobwhite mortality in NJ.”

For comparison to the Pine Island surveys, below are the 2015 mammalian predator survey results conducted by NJDFW utilizing the same methodology at the four separate Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Cumberland County, NJ.

Results of the Predator Abundance Surveys at NJDFW Cumberland County MWAs

WMA Focal Area Number

Survey Period

Total Amount of mammal visitations at stations

Predator Index Score

Fox (Spp)

Eastern Coyote

Raccoon

Virginia Opossum

Striped Skunk

Feral / Free Ranging Cat

1 Dix WMA

June 2015

28

70%

7

1

7

3

5

5

1 Dix WMA

October 2015

22

55%

3

1

5

7

4

2

2 New Sweden, Nantuxent, Fortescue, Egg Island WMA

June 2015

17

34%

1

0

9

3

1

3

2 New Sweden, Nantuxent, Fortescue, Egg Island WMA

October 2015

24

60%

7

2

8

2

2

3

3 Buckshutem WMA

June 2015

7

17.5%

0

0

0

3

1

2

3 Buckshutem WMA

October 2015

12

30%

1

1

2

6

0

2

4 Millville WMA

June 2015

11

22%

2

3

2

2

2

0

4 Millville WMA

October 2015

15 37.5% 1 1 3 5 2 3

No other mammalian predator tracks or evidence were encountered during the survey periods, including weasel, bobcat, black bear or mink. All Cumberland County WMA Surveys were conducted by NJDFW staff. Surveys stations and surveys days varied per WMA. For June surveys: Area #1 had 10 stations surveyed for 4 days, Area #2 had 10 stations surveyed for 5 days, Area #3 had 10 stations surveyed for 4 days and Area #4 had 10 stations surveyed for 5 days. For the October surveys, Area #1 had 10 stations surveyed for 4 days, Area #2 had 10 stations surveyed for 4 days, Area #3 had 12 stations surveyed for 4 days and Area #4 had 10 stations surveyed for 4 days. NOTE: Tall Timber’s research was developed on areas with good to excellent habitat over most of the property. Therefore, other indications of bobwhite population growth should be considered along with this protocol.

It should be understood that this technique is still considered experimental and data obtained from it should be used as a general guide only for relating mammalian predator context to bobwhite demographics. It does not include avian or reptilian predator abundance or impacts.

Additionally, many other factors such as weather, land use and land cover type, including but not limited to: proximity to row crop (grain) or livestock agriculture, hardwood lowlands and development, can influence the results. Furthermore birds like Northern Bobwhite quail often experience “boom or bust” reproductive cycles based on the impacts of weather and habitat conditions. These cycles are tied to the availability of suitable habitat for survival, nesting, hatch success, among other factors, and are believed to directly connect to the disturbance of habitat that a particular site might experience. At the Pine Island project site disturbance largely means the frequency of fire, although other disturbance mechanisms (such as forestry practices) are utilized to mimic the role of fire in an ecosystem.

bobcat with cardinal DWGNRA (Parke)It is important to recognize that predator-prey relationships are one of the most complex and essential interactions in ecological communities. In the context of the Bobwhite Quail Restoration Initiative for NJ maintaining an ecologically functioning predator community is very important and therefore mammalian predator abundance is only one of several factors to assess for Northern Bobwhite population recovery. Regardless of predation impacts, it is the absence of suitable, connected, high quality habitat that still remains the most significant obstacle to overcome so Bobwhites can meet all their life needs while avoiding predators and surviving periods of severe winter weather (NJDFW, Aug 2011).

 

To find out how you can help support the Bobwhite Quail Restoration Initiative to bring back this iconic species of NJ’s natural heritage please see bobwhite.njaudubon.org

 

 

All photos by John Parke

 

References:

Brennan, L. A. 1999. Northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus. In The birds of North America, no. 397, ed. A. Poole, and F. Gill. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Birds of North America, Inc

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife 2011, NEW JERSEY NORTHERN BOBWHITE ACTION PLAN (Revised Aug 2011) - A Report to the New Jersey Fish and Game Council on the status of and management recommendations for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) in New Jersey

Palmer, W. 2000, Measuring the Predator Context on Your Land to Manage Predation of Bobwhites. Tall Timbers Research Station

Rollins, D., and J. P. Carroll. 2001. Impacts of predation on northern bobwhite and scaled quail. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 29:39–51

Sloan, J. 2015, NJDFW, Mammalian Predator Survey Results – Bobwhite Quail Focal Areas –Cumberland County, NJ

NJ Audubon Has Great Success with Conservation Practices in NJ Highlands

The New Jersey Highlands provides approximately 770 million gallons of potable water daily. Over five million people rely on the Highlands for their Highlands_NJ_short_WebtQual_Page_1drinking water. Also the Highlands Region contains rich agricultural lands and rare natural communities that support many mammals and birds, including 19 breeding bird species of conservation concern, six federally listed threatened and endangered species, and harbors regional strongholds for rare reptiles and amphibians.

Through funding support from the William Penn Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, below are just some of the highlights of New Jersey Audubon Stewardship Department’s work in 2015 in the Highlands Region.

Highlands Region Delaware River Watershed Initiative – New Jersey Audubon

1. Acres with Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) implemented (i.e. cover crops):  433

2. Acres of wetlands restored: 25

3. Acres of upland restoration (grassland): 75

4. Acres of forest enrolled into Forest Stewardship Planning: 76

5. Miles of riparian area restored:  4.34

6. Sites receiving phytoremediation native plantings:  3

7. Number of 12’-16’ native trees planted: 380

8. Installation of native willow stakes:  6,500

9. Wildlife boxes (blue bird & wood duck nest boxes and bat roosting) installed: 53

Below are “Before” and “After” restoration photos for the conservation work done in 2015 and some species that will benefit.

Slide3020

Slide2P2280008

Slide6Male Bobolink MC(Parke)

Photos by John Parke

NJ Audubon, More than just Birds – Fish, Invertebrates and Water Quality Benefit from Partner Restoration Project in Musconetcong River

Through a partnership between Trout Unlimited (TU) and New Jersey Audubon (NJA) a restoration project on 4,807 linear Urbani excavatingpool in Muskyfeet of the Musconetcong River in Warren County, NJ was implemented in July 2015. Funding for this restoration was obtained by NJA through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and private donations obtained by TU.

The project involved enhancement and stabilization of the river channel with the intention of creating or enhancing existing fish habitat as well as improved water quality. The design included excavating and/or deepening several pools, to provide fish with optimal feeding, holding and spawning habitat. Between several pools, the ‘thalweg’ was enhanced by reorganizing the stream-bed material into pocket pools associated with small point bares; that will concentrate the flow during low water periods, producing improved invertebrate habitat and reduced water temperatures. (NOTE: In hydrological and fluvial landforms, the ‘thalweg’ is a line electroschock survey at Muskydrawn to join the lowest points along the entire length of a stream bed or valley in its downward slope, defining its deepest channel. The thalweg thus marks the natural direction (the profile) of a watercourse.)

A few weeks after restoration was complete, staff from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife,sorting fish from surveyat Musky along with staff from Urbani Fisheries, LLC (the firm used to design and perform the in-stream work) and NJ Audubon, performed electroshock surveying of the restored area to determine fish species diversity and abundance. Electroshock surveying is a common scientific survey method that uses electricity to temporarily stun fish before they are caught. The stunned fish are netted and transferred to live-wells and results in no permanent harm to fish, which return to their natural state after being stunned in as little as two minutes. They are then removed from the live-well, identified, counted, checked for general health, measured by the biologists and returned to the river.

trout caught in surevy at MuskyResults of the survey determined the presence of the following species in the restoration area: wild Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Madtom, White Sucker, American Eels, Rock Bass, Redbreasted Sunfish, Smallmouth Bass, Cutlip Minnow, Blacknose Dace, Longnose Dace, Chubs, Shiners and Darters.

“NJA is especially happy to have been a partner on this project with Trout Unlimited, NRCS and NJDFW,” said John Parke, Project Stewardship Director of NJA. “The expertise of NRCS and NJDFW biologists and Urbani Fisheries were critical in accomplishing this project,” Parke added. “Not only did the project enhance habitat for fish and other aquatic species significantly, but work like this also has an enormous impact on improving water quality for all who live in the Musconetcong Watershed.”

Photos by John Cecil and John Parke

CSC Member Covanta Partners with NJ Audubon to Restore Bird Nesting Habitats on Rooftops

As part of their involvement as a NJ Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) member, Covanta partnered with New Jersey Audubon to restore nesting habitats for Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks. NJA and Covanta are working to install substitute habitats for these birds on the roofs oCovata staff raking out gravel gravel nest patch for Nighthawks at Covanta Essex County facility (PARKE)f Covanta Energy-from-Waste facilities throughout the state.

The first phase of the project involved installing nests for the Common Nighthawk at Covanta Essex in Newark, NJ and Covanta Warren in Oxford, NJ. The nests consist of natural-colored pea stone gravel and are placed in the southern area of the roofs.

With the assistance of Boy Scout Troop 175 of Port Murray and other community organizations, the second phase of the project will see the construction and installation on Covanta’s rooftops of artificial chimney structures made of wood. The structures will resemble chimneys and will make suitable nesting habitats for the Chimney Swift.

“This is Covanta’s third conservation project in the state since becoming a CSC member. NJ Audubon commends Covanta for their enthusiasm and commitment to this important restoration project that will help provide critical nesting habitat for two species of special concern,” said John Parke, New Jersey Audubon Project Stewardship Director - North Region. “The concept of creating breeding areas on roof-tops for wildlife is important for the survival of species such as these, especially in New Jersey where so much land has been developed.”

Both Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks face a consistent, long-term decline in population numbers due to habitat loss.nighthawk guarding a nest field in wild(PARKE)

Common Nighthawk populations have declined by 2 percent per year between 1966 and 2010, amounting to a cumulative decline of 59 percent according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). Across North America, Common Nighthawk threats include a reduction in mosquitoes and other aerial insects due to pesticides, and habitat loss of flat gravel rooftops in urban areas and open woods in rural locations. Chimney Swifts

Chimney Swifts reside in chimney structures but face a decrease in population due to traditional brick chimneys now deteriorating and modern chimneys typically unsuitable for nest sites. Historically Chimney Swifts nested in older hollowed out trees, many of which have been lost to development, disturbance or forest succession. Similar to Nighthawks, the BBS states Chimney Swifts’ populations have declined about 2.2 percent per year since 1966. This is a decrease in 35 of 43 states and provinces Chimney Swifts migrate to and through.

According to the New Jersey State Wildlife Action Plan, both species have been identified as a “species of conservation concern” with regional priority conservation status throughout New Jersey. New Jersey’s goal is to stabilize or increase populations throughout the state. The placement of nesting patches and the construction of the chimney swift towers can help address this goal as well as provide a secondary benefit by educating landowners on the importance of providing alternative nesting structures not only to Chimney Swifts, but other species that utilize man-made structures for nesting/roosts such as bats and the Common Nighthawk.

“Covanta is proud to partner with New Jersey Audubon on this critical project. By utilizing ‘wasted space’ on our rooftops we can provide nesting habitats that will increase the chances of survival for these birds,” said Kenneth E. Armellino, Director, Environmental Science and Community Affairs. “We look forward to the results of this project and hope it can be a model to be used across the region and the state.” To see a video on the project see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syw35CjTY7I&feature=youtu.be

Installation of the artificial chimneys for the Chimney Swifts is scheduled for Fall 2015. For updates on the project, please visit Covanta.com or njaudubon.org.

Covanta Nest installation and Common Nighthawk photos by John Parke

First Confirmed Hatching of Wild Bobwhite Quail in Pinelands in over 3 Decades

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NJ Bobwhite Quail Restoration Initiative update - We are very excited to share a picture of the hatched bobwhite quail equail in grass (Parke)ggs, 13 of 14 eggs at one of the 6 active nests hatched at the Pine Island Cranberry study site, the first wild hatched quail in the NJ Pinelands in nearly 3 decades!  A total of 8 nests have been found on site, however 2 failed due to predation.  NJ Audubon project researcher, Kaili Stevens, a graduate student from the University of Delaware, who have been monitoring survival and movement of the released wild quail through radio-telemetry discovered the hatched eggs on June 22nd.  Chicks were confirmed hiding in the vegetation near the nest!!  Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project to restore a much beloved species to the Pinelands though translocation and active forest management and stewardship!

To find out how you can help support this project to bring back this iconic species of NJ’s natural heritage please see bobwhite.njaudubon.org

Old Farm Sanctuary

New Jersey Audubon’s Old Farm Sanctuary is a 151-acre wildlife sanctuary located in Independence Township, NJ.  The site is comprised of forested hillsides containing a mix of oak, red cedar and Norway spruce changing to sugar maple and red maple in the wet areas.  The property is home to a number of unique wildlife species including Cooper’s Hawk, Barred Owl, Red-shouldered Hawk, box turtle, coyote, fox, Jefferson salamander, and Fowler’s toad to name a few. A relatively new resident is a beaver whose hard efforts to slow down Bacon Run Creek, have resulted in a transition of our moderately wet meadow into a mixed wet meadow/pond such that a former trail will be re-routed later this year.  NJA has a forest stewardship plan for the site and is actively managing the forest along with the non-native invasive plants.  Thanks to a local Eagle Scout we have a new kiosk and park benches along the trail. Please visit Charlie Fineran’s Flickr site, https://www.flickr.com/photos/charliefineran/sets/72157626104947130 for more about this dynamic and beautiful site.  If you wish to visit the property a trail map and directions may be found following this link SectionConservation/NJAUnstaffedWildlifeSanctuaries/OldFarmSanctuary.aspx 

Strewardship Blog
Strewardship Blog