New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region

Your New Jersey Community Can Help Migratory Birds

Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
Northern pintail, Anas acuta
ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
piping plover, Charadrius melodus
snowy egret, Egretta thula
Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis
black skimmer, Rhynchops niger
common yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
American kestrel, Falco sparverius

New Jersey’s Avian Heritage

The Garden State is rich with bird life! New Jersey may be small, but its climate and geography provide a great variety of bird habitats across rugged ridges, vast marshes, sandy beaches, pine barrens, protected bays, rich lowlands, grassy meadows, and winding rivers. Centrally located at a crossroads of bird migration routes, New Jersey’s diverse habitats support over 450 bird species including over 200 that breed here – from songbirds to shorebirds, woodpeckers to waterbirds, hummingbirds to hawks. This hub of bird activity does not go unnoticed. About 1.9 million residents and visitors spent over $985 million watching New Jersey’s wildlife in 2011.

Birds in Trouble

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) classifies about a quarter of the Nation’s 836 species of migratory birds as endangered, threatened, or “of conservation concern.” Habitat loss and degradation are the primary threats, but other sources of human-caused mortality exacerbate declining bird populations. Collision and electrocution at man-made structures, poisoning from environmental contaminants, and predation from feral and outdoor cats collectively kill many millions of birds each year.

Role of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transporation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests except when authorized by the Service.

Birds of Conservation Concern

The 1988 amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act mandates the Service to "identify species, subspecies, and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act." The Birds of Conservation Concern 2008 [PDF] list is the most recent fulfillment of this mandate. The goal of the Birds of Conservation Concern list is to accurately identify those migratory and non-migratory bird species -- beyond those already federally listed as threatened or endangered -- that represent our highest conservation priorities. Bird species considered for inclusion on lists in this report include nongame birds, game birds without hunting seasons, subsistence-hunted nongame birds in Alaska; and Endangered Species Act candidate, proposed endangered or threatened, and recently delisted species.

Birds of Management Concern

As a subset of the species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Birds of Management Concern [PDF] are protected species that pose special management challenges because of a variety of factors (e.g., too few, too many, conflicts with human interests, societal demands). These species are of concern because of documented or apparent population declines, small or restricted populations, dependence on restricted or vulnerable habitats, or overabundance to the point of causing ecological and economic damage. The Service has also intiated a Focal Species Strategy to better measure success in achieving its bird conservation priorities and mandates.

Ways You Can Help

You and your community can help protect migratory birds for the continued enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. The actions listed below can be taken by county and municipal officials, environmental commissions, nature centers, schools, garden clubs, and individual land owners. See what you can do to protect New Jersey’s amazing bird life!
  1. Preserve important bird habitats. Work with the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth and Division of Land Use Regulation to direct development away from sensitive areas. Support acquisition of key habitats, for example through the New Jersey Green Acres Program.

    For more information see:
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant Programs
    New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
    New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program
    Conserve Wildlife Foundation
    Garden State Preservation Trust
    The Handbook of Landowner's Options: A Guide to Land Protection in New Jersey
    Association of Environmental Commissions
    NJ Geoweb Mapping

  2. Consider ordinances and zoning to protect birds and their habitats. For example:

    • Direct development away from important bird habitats.

    • Discourage development patterns that fragment bird habitats.

    • newSeasonally restrict tree clearing from April 1 to August 31 to avoid injuring or killing nesting birds.

    • Require reforestation when areas are cleared for temporary disturbances.

    • Seek compensatory mitigation for loss of bird habitats.

  3. Regulate infrastructure that poses a potential electrocution or collision hazard to migratory birds. See the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's bird mortality fact sheet [PDF] for an overview.

  4. Minimize impacts from pets. Enforce and strengthen dog leash laws in sensitive wildlife habitats, support the Cats Indoors campaign, and consider an ordinance to prohibit free-roaming cats.

    For more information see:
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Cats and Birds: A Deadly Combination
    American Bird Conservancy: The Cats Indoors! Campaign
    New Jersey Audubon Society: The Cats Indoors! Campaign
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Cats and Dogs on the Beach [PDF]

  5. Protect birds on beaches. Join other municipalities, the Service, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Beach Management Planning [PDF] to protect birds that depend on sandy beach habitats.

  6. Manage and restore bird habitats. Technical and material assistance may be available through Federal and State programs. For more information see:
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant Programs
    Habitat Restoration Links

  7. Promote bird habitats in backyards, corporate parks, and golf courses, emphasizing native vegetation. For more information see:
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serivice: Bird Feeding [PDF]
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Backyard Birding
    Habitat Restoration Links

  8. Reduce pollution. Limit the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Promote proper disposal of household chemicals and hazardous waste. See these pollution links.

  9. Promote citizen science (e.g., volunteer monitoring) for birds, such as:
    Breeding Bird Surveys
    Christmas Bird Counts
    Project Feeder Watch
    Great Backyard Bird Count
    New Jersey Wildlife Conservation Corps
    Conserve Wildlife Foundation
    Rusty Blackbird Working Group
    Report Banded Piping Plovers
    Report Other Marked Shorebirds

  10. Promote Duck Stamps. Proceeds from sales of the stamps support the expansion of National Wildlife Refuges, including the five refuges in New Jersey.

  11. Promote shade-grown coffee [PDF]. Traditional plantations, where coffee shrubs are grown under a canopy of diverse tropical trees, harbor an abundance of birds, including migrant songbirds that breed in New Jersey.

  12. Promote ecotourism and outdoor recreation, including bird watching. Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.

    For more information see:
    American Birding Association
    Survey of Wildlife-Associated Recreation
    Environment for the Americas: International Migratory Bird Day
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: International Migratory Bird Day web site

  13. Act locally, think globally. Become familiar with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Birds of Conservation Concern and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). Through the the LCCs, the Service and our partners are seekeing to integrate information and efforts across numerous existing bird conservation initiatives.

    For more information see:
    Partners in Flight
    Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
    U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan
    Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative
    North American Waterbird Conservation Plan
    North American Bird Conservation Initiative
    Important Bird Areas
    New Jersey Wildlife Action Plan

Working together, New Jersey’s communities can make a difference for migratory birds!


Last updated: November 20, 2018
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