Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Second Release of Wild Quail to the NJ Pinelands

Chatsworth, NJ – The Northern Bobwhite Restoration Initiative, led by New Jersey Audubon (NJA), realized the second of three scheduled releases of wild Northern Bobwhite quail in early April. Eighty-one Northern Bobwhite that were captured in Georgia, by project collaborator Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, were successfully translocated to, and released, at the Pine Island Cranberry study site.

After receiving health screening testing and attaching leg ID bands and radio-signal transmitting collars to each bird, a total eighty-one birds, (37 females and 44 males) were released in groups at the Pine Island Cranberry study site by NJ Audubon and initiative partners, Pine Island Cranberry, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the University of Delaware.

"We are very excited about this second release of wild Northern Bobwhite. These new quail were released into areas where Northern Bobwhite were released last year, supplementing the newly developing population." said, John Parke, NJA Stewardship Project Director. "Having those birds from last year at the site only increases the likelihood of survival of these new birds in the wild since the new birds will integrate with them and thus be influenced in their cover and foraging choices, nesting area selection and predator avoidance response in their new surroundings. We did not have that luxury last year," added Parke.

In New Jersey the Northern Bobwhite quail is believed to be functionally extinct with the possibility of some birds still existing in southwestern NJ. As part of the project to restore Northern Bobwhite to NJ, New Jersey Audubon along with project collaborators, Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, and project partners the Pine Island Cranberry Company, Pine Creek Forestry, the University of Delaware, and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, released 80 wild Northern Bobwhite at the Pine Island Cranberry site last year (2015). Through the use of radio telemetry, University of Delaware graduate students, contracted by NJ Audubon for the project, monitored the birds and were able to confirm 15 nests, 127 eggs laid; and 66 chicks hatched in 2015. The birds were tracked throughout the winter by the students and were confirmed to have over-wintered successfully at the study site. It was noted that the quail were utilizing the young pine regeneration growth areas for cover throughout the entire winter season. These young pine areas were the result of vegetation regeneration in areas that had been harvested previously as part of forest stewardship activities performed by Pine Island Cranberry to improve overall watershed and forest health.

"With the lack of quality habitat being the most important limiting factor for quail survival, the Pine Island Cranberry study site provides proof that active management is the key to species recovery," said, Jimmy Sloan, Upland Habitat and Wildlife Biologist with NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The newly released birds, as well as last year's quail, will be tracked via radio telemetry in the field to determine movements, predation, site fidelity, habitat use and nesting by the graduate students from the University of Delaware. "I have always been rooting for the quail and the overall success of the project, but year one turned out even better than I expected. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these hearty, little, birds. Last year's juvenile recruitment into this year's breeding season, paired with low site mortality, adds to the support of this project being successful as years progress. The second release of translocated individuals brings another round of excitement for the quail crew here at the University of Delaware. We are eager to see what the birds have to teach us this season," said Kaili Stevens, University of Delaware Researcher on the project.
The Pine Island site in New Jersey is part of a multi-state initiative to re-establish Northern Bobwhite in the Mid-Atlantic States. New Jersey will have the unique focus of releasing wild quail (translocation) to the Pine Island Cranberry Property. Other aspects of the multi-state project include testing methods of raising and rearing captive bred parent reared quail in other states participating in the initiative, however no captive bred quail will be release at the NJ study.

"We're pleased with how this project has progressed; the first year went very well. We enjoy working with NJ Audubon and the other partners, and are looking forward to another great year," said Bill Haines Jr., Owner and CEO of Pine Island Cranberry.
For more on the Quail Project and how you can support the initiative see NJ Audubon's Quail webpage


About New Jersey Audubon:
New Jersey Audubon is a privately supported, not-for profit, statewide membership organization. Founded in 1897, and one of the oldest independent Audubon societies, New Jersey Audubon fosters environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among New Jersey's citizens; protects New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals, and plants, especially endangered and threatened species; and promotes preservation of New Jersey's valuable natural habitats. The objectives of New Jersey Audubon are implemented by its professional staff under the leadership of its Executive Director and supervision of an elected, voluntary Board of Directors. For more information about New Jersey Audubon please visit

About Pine Island Cranberry Company Inc.:
The Haines family cranberry farm, Pine Island Cranberry Company, Inc. (PICC), located in Hogwallow, Burlington County, NJ, has been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1890 by Martin L. Haines. The entire property is located within the boundaries of the New Jersey Pinelands and it produces more cranberries than any other grower in the world, and is affiliated with an operation in Chile, South America. For more information please visit

About Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy:
The mission of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy is to foster exemplary land stewardship through research, conservation and education. Located in Tallahassee, Florida Tall Timbers' primary research focus is the ecology and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, and wildlife, including bobwhite quail, in the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Our conservation efforts are dedicated to helping protect the distinctive, rural landscape of South Georgia and North Florida and its traditional land uses. Our education program transfers research and conservation information for resource management. For more information please see

About the University of Delaware:
The University of Delaware is the largest university in Delaware. The main campus is in Newark, with satellite campuses in Dover, Wilmington, Lewes, and Georgetown. It is medium-sized – approximately 16,000 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students. For more information please see

About New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife:
The N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife is a professional environmental agency dedicated to the protection, management and wise use of New Jersey's fish and wildlife resources. The Division is within the Natural and Historic Resources Group in the NJ Department of Environmental Protection under the direction of Assistant Commissioner Richard Boornazian.