Beaver Tales from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, April 2022
Main pond in spring
Spring is beginning to bloom at the Refuge! Life is awakening for the spring/summer season and that includes newly hatched red-bellied and eastern painted turtles. They are tiny and sometimes barely visible as they make their way from their nest sites to the ponds, blending in with their surroundings. As these young turtles emerge to make a new life among the waterways, other animals are being born, hatching from protective egg cases, or simply waking up to the new season. Like the wildlife, we have also had a busy start to spring at the Refuge, welcoming new visitors and volunteers, and representing UWR at local events.
If you would like to visit the Refuge and enjoy the beauty of spring, contact us: call 856-697-3541 or email email@example.com to schedule.
Running a wildlife refuge is not only physically and emotionally demanding, there are always expenses with which to deal. Although we are frugal in how we spend Refuge funds having only one employee and an all-volunteer Council of Trustees we need your help in ensuring the continuation and longevity of the Refuge. We hope you will take the time to make the most generous donation you can.... Please know that we and the wildlife are grateful for your continued support.
Contents of this month's newsletter:
Support wildlife at the Refuge
As part of the vital and globally unique ecosystem that is the Pine Barrens, the Refuge is home to many endangered and threatened species. Please make a pledge to sponsor a Refuge habitat or choose to support one of the species of animals who call this protected land 'home.' You can easily do this through an automatic monthly PayPal donation (you do not need a PayPal account, just a credit card). Go to our
Donate page to make your choice and subscribe. Your recurrent donations will be used, as with all our income, to continue protecting the Refuge from harm and allowing the inhabitants to live freely.
Here are your choices:
Wetland habitat: $30.00
Pine forest habitat: $25.00
Bald eagle: $20.00
Beaver kit: $15.00
River otter: $15.00
Eastern box turtle: $15.00
Red fox: $10.00
Your personal favorite: $20.00
All habitats and animals: $60.00
Eastern box turtle
Trustee Dave Sauder
Lines on the Pines
Lines on the Pines
UWR at Lines on the Pines, March 13, 2022
One of the most-noted events of the year is Lines on the Pines, a celebration of the arts and culture of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Each year Unexpected Wildlife Refuge provides information about the Refuge as well as children’s educational activities. Trustees Janet Romano and David Sauder staffed a table, discussing the beauty and mission of the Refuge with interested visitors. Children could listen to a story about barn owls and make an owl mask. A slideshow presentation of photos taken at the Refuge played continuously to provide a glimpse of the diversity of animals and plants that make Unexpected Wildlife Refuge their home.
Next year, UWR is slated to present an informational program about the Refuge. We are very excited to have this opportunity to share the Refuge with others.
ACUA Earth Day Festival
Janet Romano & Jen Collins
ACUA Earth Day Festival
UWR at ACUA’s 30th Annual Earth Day Festival, April 24, 2022
On Sunday, April 24 the ACUA held its annual Earth Day Festival in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. This is a favorite event every year and attracts a large audience of those concerned about protecting our environment. Trustee Janet Romano and Manager Jen Collins staffed a table sharing information about UWR, including the role the Refuge plays in preserving wetlands and woodlands.
Snapshots of life at the Refuge
trail camera photo
trail camera photo
trail camera photo
Otter family active at Wild Goose Blind
This lovely series of an otter family was found among our trail camera footage. While river otters tend to live alone or in pairs, they often socialize in groups and are known for their playful behavior. River otters communicate with whistles, yelps, growls, and screams, as well as touch and body posture. Their playful activities help strengthen social bonds and let young otters practice hunting techniques. Their main social group consists of a family led by an adult female and her children; male river otters ignore females and young through most of the year.
Turtle hatchling reaches destination
During late March and early April, we witnessed many red-bellied turtle hatchlings making their way to the ponds, and when necessary, moved them out of harm's way. Northern red-bellied turtle hatchlings are approximately 1-1.5" long and display more green and red than adults. The carapace is usually brown or black, but the plastron is a rich pink or red color. Red-bellied turtle hatchlings overwinter in their nest and emerge the following spring. Soon it will be egg-laying season once again, when we will see many females moving to and from the water as they search for nest sites. We wished this little one luck on their ventures as they entered the water.
Song sparrow in the brush
Song sparrows walk or hop on the ground and flit or hop through branches, grass, and weeds--as this individual was observed doing when photographed outside of Headquarters in March. They tend to stay low and forage secretively, but males come to exposed perches, including limbs of small trees, to sing. One of the most familiar North American sparrows, they are medium-sized, and brown and gray in color with bold streaks on a white chest and flanks. They are found in a wide variety of open habitats, including grasslands, pine forests, agricultural fields, freshwater marsh and lake edges, and suburbs. You may also find song sparrows in deciduous or mixed woodlands. They are named for being one of the most persistent singers throughout the spring and summer.
Groundhog at HQ
Groundhog at HQ
Groundhog neighbors at Headquarters
There is a hollowed-out tree stump next to Headquarters which serves as the doorway to our resident groundhog family's home. Through many seasons and litters, I have gotten to know this furry family. I've witnessed their behaviors and routines, counted additions to the family, and even become familiar with their individual markings. My children and I often see them foraging on the grounds surrounding Headquarters. Sometimes, if the windows are open, or if we're sitting quietly on the front porch, we can hear them chewing on a snack or scurrying through the leaves. Groundhogs are extremely intelligent, forming complex social networks and kinships with their young. They understand and communicate threats through whistling, and work cooperatively to solve tasks such as burrowing. They are true hibernators, entering into a state of deep sleep for about three months. With the beginning of spring, they have come out of hibernation, and they will be active during the day (diurnal) from now until fall.
For more on groundhogs, check out our Kids' corner section below.
Eastern spadefoot toad
Eastern spadefoot toad
Young eastern spadefoot toad
Spadefoot toads are found throughout the eastern US. They can be found in almost any habitat, but prefer dry habitats with sandy soils. Spadefoots are extremely fossorial, spending most of their life buried underground, often for weeks at a time. They are explosive breeders, concentrating their reproduction during short time windows. Heavy rains cause them to emerge in large numbers and congregate at ephemeral pools created by the rain. Males call while floating on the surface of the water. Females can lay up to 2,500 eggs at once. Adults reach maturity in two to three years. They hatch from their eggs within two weeks and become terrestrial in two to eight weeks. This individual was spotted in the sandy soil beneath the HQ front porch.
Rough-winged, tree & barn swallows
Rough-winged and tree swallows
Several species of swallows at Miller Pond
While out on patrol recently we observed three different species of swallows (rough-winged, tree, and barn) perched together on this beaver lodge in Miller Pond. Swallows are excellent flyers, and they use these skills to feed and to attract mates. They generally forage for prey on the wing, spending a lot of time flying and chasing after insects in acrobatic twists and turns. Swallows always drink on the wing, flying low to sip the water. Can you locate all three species? Rough-winged swallows are brown above with an indistinct brown wash across their throat and breast, and white underparts below their throat. The tree swallow has iridescent blue-green upperparts, black wings and tail, and white underparts. Barn swallows have rufous underparts, with a blue back, wings, and tail.
When children have opportunities to observe wildlife, a whole new world of wonder can open up. Let's see what it's like to observe the wildlife at UWR from a kid's perspective.
by Sylvia Cudrak
Groundhogs by Sylvia Cudrak, age 8
Groundhogs are omnivores. They eat a lot of different plants, and grubs, insects, and snails. They also eat other small animals, like baby birds! Adults weigh up to 13 pounds. They can be as long as 24 inches. They have sharp claws to dig their burrows and they can stand up on their back feet. Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks. We have a family of groundhogs living next to the house. The mom has a patch of fur missing on her side.
Beavers in the news
Here are some recent news media articles concerning beavers. You can see our entire and growing list, a tribute to this wonderful keystone species, in our
Beavers in the News page. If you come across a news item on beavers, please send us the link so that we can consider it for inclusion.
South Charlotte Residents Upset with how Beaver Colony is Being Handled, by Drew Bollea.
Alamy stock photo
A group of residents in the Thornhill neighborhood in South Charlotte say the home owners association trapped and killed a family of beavers without seeking humane solutions.
“We weren’t allowed to discuss the other options. We weren’t informed of it until the day it happened,” said Hynum.
“There are non lethal ways of managing the damage without killing the beavers. In other words, there are options to cohabitate with them,” explained Hynum. She’d like to see a wildlife committee established to handle future situations.
Traditional Farming Communities Coexist with Beavers, by Patricia Estrella.
By building dams and lodges, beavers are considered ecosystem engineers.
Their dams raise water levels, slow water speed and change water direction, which can increase wetland size, enhance wildlife and plant diversity, improve water quality and maintain stable water temperatures.
Beaver ponds provide habitat for freshwater fish, migratory birds, amphibians and other wetland species.
Campaigns in New Jersey
American black bears
Anton Sorokin/Alamy Stock Photo
Bear advocacy is critical until bears are permanently protected. Please continue the fight!
Please contact Governor Murphy. Tell his staff that we are thankful he stopped the 2021 hunt. Ask him to support the Bear Group and APLNJ’s request to put a nonlethal bear program in place with independent oversight.
NJ Plastic Bag and Polystyrene Ban Goes Into Effect May 4, 2022
Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores, and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2,500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags.
To learn more about the new law, visit Get Past Plastic.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Mailing address: PO Box 765, Newfield, New Jersey 08344-0765