Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Problems for endangered (and near-endangered) species in New Jersey

Even though the title of my blog is A DC Birding Blog, I do have a strong interest in birdlife in New Jersey. This is because I grew up there and frequently return there for visits due to continuing connections. Such visits usually include a bit of birding.

Anyway, two reports have come out today in the Asbury Park Press about the future of two rare shorebirds, the red knot and the piping plover. The red knot has become threatened in recent years due to the loss of hermit crabs in the Delaware Bay, which red knots feed upon while in transit from their wintering grounds in southern South America to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. (This is one of the longest migrations known.) The New Jersey Audubon Society and concerned lawmakers, such as Frank Pallone, are pushing for expedited listing under the Endangered Species Act, which will not be possible if the Bush administration is able to change the law.

Piping plovers have had low success in nesting in New Jersey this year, partly due to habitat loss and partly due to predation by foxes. The breeding population at Sandy Hook was the lowest since 1991. Similar problems face least terns, another species endangered in New Jersey. The piping plovers also face problems in Prince Edward Island and North Carolina.

I was very glad to spot a red knot near Bombay Hook in May. But so far I have not seen a piping plover. Perhaps I will this migration or next?