Researcher Kaili Stevens with a captured juvenile male after leg banding and radio collaring.  Photo by John Parke, NJ Audubon

Researcher Kaili Stevens with a captured juvenile male after leg banding and radio collaring. Photo by John Parke, NJ Audubon

(by New Jersey Audubon)

New Jersey Audubon’s efforts to re-establish Northern Bobwhite quail to the NJ Pine Barrens is well under way and, to date, has shown some very promising results. Since the release of 80 wild birds, captured and translocated from Georgia to the Pine Island Cranberry Co.’s Burlington County property in April, graduate students from the University of Delaware hired by NJ Audubon have been closely monitoring the birds movements, behavior and nesting habits via telemetry.

There are 40 adult quail remaining from the initial release of 80. In addition there were 66 chicks that hatched this summer, representing the first confirmed successful hatching of Northern Bobwhite in the Pinelands since the 1980s.  “The efficacy of translocation toward population recovery is contingent on successful reproduction. Finding these first nests is exciting as this confirms that those individuals released are indeed reproducing giving us great hope going forward” said project collaborator Dr. Theron Terhune of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.

By producing offspring, the quail have also proven that the habitat at the site being managed under an approved Forest Stewardship Plan prepared and implemented by Pine Creek Forestry, LLC, is providing important forage and cover needed to sustain a quail covey for their entire life cycle. “The translocation, survivorship, successful nesting and hatching are just the first signs of many more great things to come,” said John Parke, New Jersey Audubon Project Stewardship Director.  “The project offers so much more to the State and the Mid-Atlantic region in that it will provide key information on the role of forest stewardship and management for creating and maintaining healthy forests, as well as the ability of restored Pinelands forest to sustain a broad suite of biodiversity, including Bobwhite Quail, and also the ability to combine wildlife and habitat objectives with an active agricultural and forestry operation that is sustainable and makes both ecological and economic sense.”