Harbor Herons Volunteers Wanted!

IMG_2418Kristin (Mylecraine) Munafo of New Jersey Audubon writes:

NJA is currently recruiting volunteers for Harbor Heron surveys coordinated through its Citizen Science Program.

The survey will take place from mid-June until mid-October at sites in the Hackensack Meadowlands, Raritan Bay, and surrounding wetlands.

Specifically we are looking at the abundance and distribution of herons, egrets, and ibises that nest on small islands of the Greater NY/NJ Harbor in mixed wading bird colonies, locally known as Harbor Herons.  The Harbor Herons have been a flagship for biodiversity in the Harbor Bight region since they started nesting here in the 1950s.

The Citizen Science Program is a collaborative effort of NJA, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP), and the NJ Meadowlands Commission.

This year we are continuing the survey that we initiated in 2008 to improve our understanding of the Harbor Herons and their use of foraging habitat in the NY/NJ Harbor. 

We are refining our study and focusing on the later part of the summer and early fall to explore local movements and changes in site use post-breeding. 

Citizen Scientists will be required to visit their assigned sites to determine avian abundance and distribution. Depending on road conditions, some points may only be accessible on foot or by canoe/kayak. 

Volunteers are asked to commit to at least 10 surveys over the entire course of the study period (4 weekly surveys each month from mid-July until mid-September, surveys every two weeks before and after that survey period).

We especially need concentrated efforts in August and September.  If this is not possible but you are still interested in participating, contact us with your availability and we'll do our best to work it out.

Volunteers will use standard count methodology, and record habitat and behavioral observations when possible but will mostly focus on bird numbers.

Prior to the start of the field season (we're aiming for the weekend of 7/16), NJAS staff will provide training to volunteers in survey methodology and bird identification.

Additionally, if you cannot participate in this study but know of any particular sites in your area that you think should be included in this survey, please let us know.

If you are interested in participating in this survey or for more information on this project, contact Nellie Tsipoura, Nellie.tsipoura@njaudubon.org, Tom Smith, tsmith7195@aol.com, or Kristin Munafo, kristin.munafo@njaudubon.org.

Data collected will further our knowledge of bird distribution and abundance in New Jersey.


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