Click on any of the bird species below to get information
BOBOLINK- (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) The bobolink is also called the "reed bird'' or the "rice bird" . It was originally called the bobolincon. This is a migratory songbird with the male having a black, white, and yellowish plumage. Each spring they pass through our state coming all the way from Brazil & Argentina. They molt (lose feathers) during the summer and when they head south again in the fall they look so different (a duller sparrow color) that people once believed it was a different bird. They grow to about 5 and a half to 7 and a half inches long. They live in meadows,grain fields, and marshes. The nest in a thin-walled cup of grass hidden in thick grass or clover. It feeds on insects, seeds (especially those dandelion seeds that you don't want on your lawn!) , and grain. They were once slaughtered by the tens of thousands and sold to be eaten as "butterbirds" while they fed in South Carolina rice fields. They have never really recovered from those days.
BALD EAGLE - (Haliaeetus
(USFWS file photo)
One of New Jersey's greatest success stories is the Bald Eagle, a species that was brought "back from the brink" of extinction in N.J. This bird is believed to live over thirty years in the wild and longer in captivity. Also called the "American eagle". New Jersey's bald eagle population continued to grow during the 1995 nesting season as 11 pairs nested. Nine of the pairs were successful at raising 20 young. Nests occurred at Bear Swamp, Belleplain State Forest, Cohansey River, Mannington Meadow, Newport, Maurice River, Raccoon Creek/Gibbstown, Stow Creek, Union Lake, Wading River and Round Valley Reservoir. All of the nests, with the exception of the Round Valley nest, are located within the Inner and Outer Coastal Plain of South Jersey. Bald eagles are very sensitive to disturbances, and will abandon their nest sites if people come too close to the nest. Most nests are on private land, and the landowners are the main protectors of nest sites.
The state's most productive nest is the Stow Creek pair. This pair has produced three young in three of the past four seasons. In 1998, 14 active pairs (tying 1996's post DDT high) fledged 17 young!
The peregrine is one of the fastest (and one of our favorite) birds! They are known for their diving attack that brings them up to speeds of 200 m.p.h.! They are large birds - 15-20 inches in size.
Fifteen pairs of peregrine falcons were active in NJ during the 1995 nesting season. Ten pairs nested on nesting towers that the state built or buildings (including an Atlantic City casino!!) and the remaining five pairs nested on major bridges (one goes across the Delaware River.) In 1998, the state was up one nest to 16, but productivity of 11 of those nests located on towers or buildings were up only slightly to 1.3 per pair.
Peregrines eat mainly birds caught in flight, sometimes small mammals and large insects.
Endangered and Nongame Species Program biologists continue to monitor peregrine eggs for chemicals from pollution. They are helped by workers from the Bureau of Land Management, AT&T and climbers from Jersey Central Power and Light Co. These groups help replace nesting towers which are built like huge tree houses on 4 telephone pole legs.
August 20, 1999: NEWS UPDATE
Today, the world's fastest bird soars off of the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the peregrine falcon from the list of endangered and threatened species, marking one of the most dramatic success stories of the Endangered Species Act.
"It's a spectacular summer for America's great birds, the bald eagle, the Aleutian Canada goose and today the peregrine falcon," said the Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt. "And beneath the wings of all their recovery stands America's great law: the Endangered Species Act."
The peregrine once ranged throughout much of North America from the subarctic boreal forests of Alaska and Canada south to Mexico. A medium-sized raptor, the falcon nests on tall cliffs or urban skyscrapers and hunts other birds for food, reaching speeds of 200 miles an hour as it dives after its prey. While those nesting in the lower latitudes migrate shorter distances, if at all, peregrines nesting in Alaska and Canada are well known for their long spring and fall flights to and from wintering areas in Latin and South America. The bird's remarkable speed and agility, however, could do nothing to prevent its sharp decline after World War II when widespread use of the pesticide DDT and other organocholorine pesticides decimated populations. The pesticide DDT caused peregrines to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke during incubation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers confirmed the link between DDT and egg shell thinning on peregrines in the United States. Rachel Carson, a former Service employee, helped alert the public to the hazards of pesticides on wildlife in 1962 when she published her book Silent Spring. Ten years later, the Environmental Protection Agency made the historic and, at the time, controversial decision to ban the use of DDT in the United States, which was the first step on the road to recovery for the peregrine.
In 1970, the Service listed the peregrine falcon
as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, the
predecessor of the current law, when the population in the eastern United
States had completely disappeared and populations in the west had declined
much as 80 to 90 percent below historical levels. By 1975, the population reached an all-time low of 324 nesting pairs in North America.
The banning of DDT made the recovery of the peregrine falcon possible. But the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act and the extraordinary partnership efforts of the Service and state wildlife agencies, universities, private ornithological groups, and falcon enthusiasts accelerated the pace of recovery through captive breeding programs, reintroduction efforts and the protection of nest sites during the breeding season. Similar efforts took place in Canada, where the Canadian Wildlife Service and provincial agencies took the lead in a major captive breeding and reintroduction program. Currently, there are at least 1,650 peregrine breeding pairs in the United States and Canada, well above the overall recovery goal of 631 pairs.
"The peregrine falcon is a perfect example of
the success we can have when we work in partnership to recover endangered
species," said Secretary Babbitt. "With the help of the protections provided
by the Endangered Species Act, and the visionary work in captive breeding
and release efforts by The Peregrine Fund, the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center and the University of California's Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, the peregrine flies through the skies of almost every state in the Union."
The peregrine falcon joins the southeastern population of the brown pelican, the American alligator, the Rydberg milk-vetch, and the gray whale as graduates of the endangered species list. Overall, government and private raptor experts have reintroduced more than 6,000 falcons into the wild since 1974. Some of the reintroductions took place in urban areas after researchers discovered that the falcons have successfully adapted to nesting on skyscrapers where they can hunt pigeons and starlings.
The peregrine will continue to be protected by
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA prohibits the taking, killing,
possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs,
parts, and nests except when specifically authorized by the Interior Department,
such as in the case of regulated hunting seasons for game birds. The Service
has continued the prohibition on the take of peregrines for all purposes
until management guidelines are developed in coordination with the States.
The Office of Migratory
Birds has issued a letter to all affected permit holders to alert them of this amendment to their permits. The Service is working with the states to develop management plans for the take of peregrines for falconry purposes.
In addition, the Service will work with state
wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and others to monitor the
status of the species. The Endangered Species Act requires that a species
be monitored for a minimum of 5 years after delisting. The Service has
monitor the peregrine falcon for 13 years with surveys occurring once every 3 years, allowing for 5 surveys, to provide data that will reflect the status of at least two generations of peregrines. If it becomes evident during this period that the bird again needs the Act's protection, the Service would relist the species.
State wildlife agencies also played a fundamental
role in the recovery process by protecting nesting habitat, carrying out
releases, and monitoring populations within their borders. "The recovery
of the peregrine has been a model of partnership in the conservation and
recovery of an endangered species," Babbitt said. "I hope that the success of the peregrine will inspire other communities to come together to protect and recover other vulnerable species."
(USFWS file photo)
The piping plover is one of New Jersey's endangered beach nesters. The piping plover is named for its melodic mating call. It is a small, pale-colored North American shorebird. The bird's light sand-colored plumage blends in with sandy beaches and shorelines.
There are three populations of piping plovers
in the United States. The most endangered is the Great Lakes breeding
population, which encompasses only 32 breeding pairs in 2000. The
Northern Great Plains and Atlantic Coast populations are classified as
threatened. All piping plovers winter along the southeast and Gulf
coasts and are classified as threatened in their wintering habitat. In
recent decades, piping plover populations have drastically declined, especially
in the Great Lakes Region. Breeding habitat has been replaced by
shoreline development and recreational uses causing plover numbers to plummet.
Similar threats face the species on its wintering grounds where loss of
habitat threatens the ability of these birds to survive to the next
They grow to about 6-7 inches long and are grayish
with white under parts and orange legs. They only live around sandy beaches!
They nest in sand and lay 4, gray or buff eggs that are lightly spotted
with black. The mainly feed on insects and small aquatic species that are
near the water line.
Only 93 nesting pairs were recorded in 1998 (down from 115 in '97) but productivity was up to 1.04 per nest after a terrible 1998 season when only .42 birds fledged from nests.
podiceps) This bird is found on shallow inland waters. It seldom flies
and likes to float high in the water. If it is alarmed, it slowly sinks
instead of diving into the water. The Pied-Billed Grebe grows to about
12-15 inches long. They're a dull brown color with white stripes along
its stomach. They're mainly found near ponds, marshes and quiet streams.
They nest in a floating clump of marsh weeds and mud. The Pied-Billed Grebe
eats insects, crustaceans (like crayfish), and fish.
(Kodak Digital Sample image)
The Black Skimmer likes to skim the water's surface and rise with a fish in its bill. It likes to wade in shallow bay areas jabbing at fish. You will find the Black Skimmer on sand bars. It makes a shallow depression in the sand to make its nest. Like other beach nesters, when the nest is disturbed skimmers leave the nest and circle away calling loudly. Sometimes they fly back towards the disturbance, but they usually land and sit nearby. They rely on the aggressive behavior of nearby terns for some protection. If they leave their beach nest for too long, the eggs will "hard-boil" and never hatch. Their greatest dangers on the Jersey shore are the interference of people at the beach and predators such as foxes and feral cats.
henslowii) This bird grows up to 5 inches long and has a large bill.
It's brown and streaked and has rusty wings. It lives in weedy pastures
and in partly overgrown meadows. It nest in a deep cup of grass and weeded
stalks. This small bird only feeds on insects and seeds.
cyaneus) This birds grows to about 17 inches long. Males are pale gray
and females are are brown above and streaked with brown below. It lives
in fields, marshes, and grasslands and it nests on platforms of sticks,
reeds, and weed stems on ground or in shrubs. It eats mainly other small
rodents like frogs, reptiles, insects, and other small birds.
sandwichensis) This bird grows to about 4-6 inches long. It's a finely
streaked bird with brown coloring on the top and the bottom. It lives in
prairies, fields, near water (salt and fresh), marshes, and grassy dunes.
It nests in cups of grass, plant stems, and moss concealed in vegetation.
It feeds on insects, seeds and spiders.
This bird grows to about 21-25 inches long and has a huge 6 foot wingspan.
This large and long-winged bird has a white head, and a brown back and
wings. It mainly lives near rivers and seacoasts. It nests in a structure
of sticks and found trash using a tree, pole, channel markers, lighthouses,
or nesting platform, and very rarely on the ground. A nesting pair will
return to the same nest year after year, unless it is destroyed. It mainly
catches fish but may occasionally eat small rodents and birds. It is sometimes
called the "fish hawk" because of its dramatic dives for fish.
(USFWS file photo)
This bird has long, narrow wings and a broad, forked tail identify the California least tern. Also have black-capped head and black-tipped, pale gray wings of the least tern contrasts with its white body. It bears a white blaze across its forehead, dark forewings, black-tipped yellow bill, and yellowish feet. It is less than 25 cm when fully grown and has 75 cm wingspan.
SHRIKE-(Lanius Ludovicians)-The Loggerhead Shrike is 7-9 1/2 in.
long, white, and black. Both the Loggerhead Shrike and the rarer Northern
Shrike are nicknamed "butcher birds." They kill insects, snakes, rodents
and small birds, then put them on thorns or jam them into twig forks. They
build up reserve supplies (larders) for more later use. Although the shrikes
have hooked, hawk-like bills, they lack powerful, hawk-like feet and must
fix the prey on something firm before tearing it apart. The Loggerhead
Shrike is on the New Jersey endangered species list due to the loss of
pasturelands that are its habitat and pesticide use.
(USFWS photo by Bud Alveria)
This bird is 36-43 cm long. It has a gray mantle
across its back and wings, the head crown is black and the under parts
are white with a bit of pink (giving them their name) and a white tail.
The tail is more forked and longer than the Common Tern. Their nest is
a depression in the ground sometimes lined with a bit of dry grass or other
plants. They usually nest in colonies, usually mixed with Common and Arctic
Terns. They produce 2 eggs normally.
platensis)-This species can attain lengths of 10-11 cm. This bird is
a small, light brown wren. The back and sides are a light brown color with
white streaks. Below, it is a light color, almost white at the throat and
center of the abdomen. Sedge
Wrens have a streaked head crown. This species
like grassy marshes and sedge meadows. The nests, made by the males, are
constructed of dried and green grasses with an entrance in a side to the
chamber. Multiple nests are built close to the ground in tall grasses or
sedges. They lay 4 to 8 eggs, and the hatching time is approximately 12-14
days. The diet of this species consists mainly of insects and spiders.
These birds migrate to the Gulf Coast to overwinter.
- (Asio flammeous) The Short-eared Owl is a medium sized raptor,
and its "ear" tufts are very small. The tufts are so small that you wouldn't
notice them unless you were very close or when the owl puts on its "alert"
face. This raptor is well camouflaged with mottled tawny coloring above
and streaked under parts. It has bright yellow eyes surrounded by dark
feathered rims. It has a very round face and looks like it has white "eyebrows."
The female usually lays between 5 to 7 creamy white eggs. It preys on small
mammals, some birds, and a few insects. It hunts usually long before sunset
making long sweeping runs flying low over a field or marsh as it looks
(Bartramia Longicauda) - This bird is about one foot long. Its colors
are blackish brown and buff above, and buff with dark streaks on the breast
and sides. Its belly is white. this is effective camouflage on the ground,
in bushes & among fallen leaves. It eats mostly insects & seeds.
The Upland Sandpiper is a predator to all insects. The sandpiper looks
like it can't do any harm but their beak can destroy many insects. Females
lay four cream-colored speckled with dark brown. The color of the bird's
eggs blends with dry grass, making them hard to see. The male on the other
hand is very bold and will often take over other nests and steal the female
from other males.
gramineus) This bird's length is about 15 cm. Adults are light brown
on their crown & back streaked with black and buff. The tail is dark
brown. It has a clear pale eye ring. Underneath it is grayish white, streaked
with dark brown. They make nests on the ground thick grass and lined with
fine grass, or sometimes hair. This bird likes open pastures or fields
where the grass is short. It places its nest in the open, without the slightest
attempt at hiding it! They usually have 4-5 eggs that are bluish white,
sometimes pinkish white, speckled with various browns. It is usually seen
at low elevations - a favorite perch might be a fence rail or post. It
has a pretty song.
SPARROW-(Ammodramus savannarum) This bird only grows to about 4-5
inches long. It has brown streaks above and a distinctive flatheaded look
and a plain flesh colored breast with a bill larger than most other sparrows.
It lives in meadows, prairies, and grain fields and nests in a cup of grass,
lined with soft roots or hair. It eats insects, grain, seeds, and spiders.
otus) This bird grows to about 12-15 inches long. It's grayish-brown
with dark streaks and bars and a rust colored face ( in owls those 2 circles
are called "facial discs".) It lives in dense forests, perhaps orchards
and streamside woodlands. This slacker bird lays 3-10 white eggs, in the
old abandoned nests of hawks, crows, magpies or even a squirrel. They mainly
eat rodents, shrews, and rabbits caught at night and occasionally will
varia) This bird makes a call that seems to be saying "Who cooks for
you? Who cooks for you all?" It grows to about 16-23 inches long. It's
a dark grayish-brown and barred with white and vertical streaks on its
belly. It lives in wooded swamps and lowland forests and drier upland forests.
It lays 2-4 eggs that are white and laid in abandoned nests like the long-eared
owls. They mostly eat mice but will also eat small mammals, birds, reptiles,
snakes, insects, and crayfish.
pyrrhonota) This bird only grows to about 5-6 inches long. It has pointed
wings and a very small bill. It is bluish black on its back with a whitish
forehead and a white stomach. It lives in open country, near water, and
especially near barns and other buildings. They nest in a gourd shaped
structures that are mud lined with grass and feathers. They lay 3-6 eggs
that are white or pink and dotted with brown. The mainly eat flying insects
and spiders and occasionally eat juniper berries and other kinds of fruit.
WOODPECKER- (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) This bird grows to about
8 and a half to 9 and a half inches long. They're black with red heads
and a white stomach. They live in groves, open woodlands, farmlands, and
shade trees. They lay 4-7 eggs that are white and laid in dead tree limbs
5-80 feet above the ground. They eat wood-boring insects, nuts, and sometimes
insects captured in flight.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK- (Buteo lineatus) This bird grows to about 17-24 inches long. They're a brownish color and are streaked above with a rusty shoulder patch. It is found living in moist forests and swamps. It nests in a deep cup of sticks 20-60 ft. above the ground in a tree. It eats reptiles, frogs, small mammals, birds, large insects, and toads.
This hawk is found primarily in Northern NJ - the NJ Highlands along the Delaware River, Walkill Refuge Area, the Skylands Eastern flyway (near the Hudson River) preferring wooded swamps (such as Dismal Swamp and the Great Swamp farther south.)
"This slim, some say, "elegant" cousin of the Red Tailed Hawk, is protected by the NJ DEP and is on the "blue list " of the National Audubon (declining species). Destruction of critical habitat, pesticides and pollution are reasons for its threatened status. It is an uncommon breeder in the northeast, but each spring residents of Holland Mountain still have the pleasure of observing "Shoulders" nest and fledge their young. It is no accident that the Red Shouldered Hawk is a success on Holland Mountain. Feeding heavily on frogs crayfish and snakes, this raptor, formerly known as the Swamp Hawk, hunts in wetlands such as those associated with the Russia Brook.
When nesting, they prefer hardwood or conifer
forests and construct large nests 35-50 feet off the ground, in large,
mature trees. Breeding pairs show an affinity for the same site, and will
for years or even decades as their offspring carry on the tradition.
Preferring relative isolation, a nesting pair may be forced to abandon the nest and eggs if repeatedly disturbed. There are usually three, dull brown, spotted eggs. Both parents share the work of
incubation, which takes about 28 days. Within six weeks the young fledge, but the parents continue to feed and train them for some time.
The most vocal woodland hawk, its descending cry of kee-your is repeated over and over as the parents and fledglings call to one another through the forest. By November, the Red Shouldered Hawks drift southward as the leaves that once hid their nests tumble down.
At the top of the local food chain, a Red
Shouldered Hawk will concentrate toxins within its tissues, leading to
reproductive failure or death. The presence of this wetland species
is an indicator of a healthy environment."
GREAT BLUE HERON-
( Kodak Digital Sample image)
An adult Great Blue heron grows to about 50-54 inches in length. They feed their young frogs and fish. They are mainly gray with a white head and 2 black crown stripes. They live near marshes, lakes, rivers and shores. They nest about 100 feet above the ground. Their eggs are pale blue-green and they lay about 3-7 eggs that take about 28 days to hatch. Adults mainly eat fish, frogs, snakes and small mammals.
(Passerculus sandwichsensis princeps) The Ipswich Sparrow is a savannah
sparrow which breeds only on a strip of land on Sable Island, Nova Scotia
and winters along portions of the Atlantic Seaboard including the dunes
of Ipswich, Massachusetts where it was first discovered. (See