WNJ Exclusive: NJ Audubon Society and Edison Wetlands release first-ever bird survey of the Lower Raritan River

Great Egret
Photo courtesy of NJ Audubon

New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) and Edison Wetlands Association (EWA) today released the first-ever bird survey for the Lower Raritan River. The report, Breeding Bird Abundance and Distribution in the Lower Raritan, surveys the estuary of the longest river solely in New Jersey, an area that was long off-limits to the public and blighted by landfills and industrial sites. This avian inventory provides baseline bird information, and can help prioritize site acquisition and direct restoration activities improving wildlife habitats.

 “The high number of species observed, particularly species of concern like black skimmer, osprey, and northern harrier, suggests that conservation and restoration activities have great potential to attract and impact these species,” says Nellie Tsipoura, NJAS Senior Research Scientist.  “We found osprey nesting on nearly every dock piling in the lower stretch of the Raritan River.”

The report, surveys the Raritan Bay Estuary Wetlands where saltwater and freshwater mix, an area providing important fishery and bird habitats. The survey found seven threatened or endangered bird species that breed here, including Cooper’s hawk, bobolink, grasshopper sparrow, and black-crowned night-heron, and an additional nine species of special concern, such as the American kestrel.

“This report confirms the Lower Raritan Watershed’s ongoing ecological recovery a century of industrial abuse,” says David Wheeler, EWA Director of Operations.  “These findings illustrate the importance of both protecting and restoring this valuable remaining habitat along the Raritan both for wildlife and for families to enjoy hiking, bird watching, and wild life viewing.”

EWA funded this report through a legal settlement with Edgeboro Disposal Inc. The New Jersey Audubon survey is one of many projects from that settlement, including the kayaking program at Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge and canoe tours in Raritan Bay by NY-NJ Baykeeper.

For more information visit www.edisonwetlands.org or www.njaudubon.org.

Anyone interested in a copy of the report can email Wild New Jersey at wildnewjersey@edisonwetlands.org.


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