The latest news from Sim Place!

This week on a beautiful Monday at Pine Island, John Parke of New Jersey Audubon brought a group out to see the property and hear about the latest on the Northern Bobwhite Restoration Initiative


John took the group out to Sim Place to meet with researchers Kaili Stevens and Phil Coppola and hear more about the history of the project in addition to recent developments. He briefly discussed how the project came about, as well as the strict criteria Tall Timbers had for possible translocation habitats: it could not be on public land, it had to have at least 1500 acres of quality quail habitat, it could not have quail on it already, and it must not have any stock birds or a stocking program, among other things. “When we found Pine Island, everything lined up perfectly,” John says.


“Now we’re into the second year of the project, and we can do a lot more,” he says. “We can translocate the wild birds from Georgia and compare the results here to other locations and see how the quail are adapting to new environments out of the south. Here, we’ve been able to show that birds made it through the winter this year by utilizing a lot of cut areas for cover in big winter storms. That was a big test; we worried about them being as hardy, wondered if would they adjust, and they came through with flying colors. The really cool thing about this year was when Phil [Coppola, of the University of Delaware] started telemetry work, he found a bird not collared but paired with one of our collared birds. Which means it was a young bird from last year who made it through! We needed to see that they could make it through winter into nesting season and reproduce. Last year was a great success.”

home farm snow (PARKE)(_2

kaili at pine island - parke

This year several nests fell victim to predation by pine snakes, but as John says, “that’s not really a doom-and-gloom scenario. This is part of the whole ecosystem. Quail are reproducing, but they’re also part of the food chain. Good habitat work means that sometimes, this is going to happen; it’s all part of the system!” It’s this optimism as well as the joy they take in the entire process that makes working with the staff at New Jersey Audubon such a pleasure, and the group of members who came to visit were just as lovely to speak with. It’s truly gratifying to meet with people who love this area as much as we do and appreciate what everyone is trying to accomplish!

quail hatch

As John said to the group on Monday: “It’s a very interesting situation here, and all this additional data coming out is valuable.”

A tour with New Jersey Audubon!

John Parke of New Jersey Audubon conducted a tour last week to bring everyone up to speed on the Northern Bobwhite Restoration Initiative. Members of the South Jersey Quail Project, folks from the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, some NJA staffers, and some other folks came out to see some of the habitat and get caught up on the latest!


He went over this year’s results so far (nesting, depredation, survival, habitat use, results of spring mammal predator index survey), as well as demonstrating some telemetry work with the grad students on site.

Evan Drake demonstrating telemetry equipment.

Evan Drake demonstrating telemetry equipment.

We also received the exciting news that two more nests had been discovered just that morning! Per NJA, the nests (which can be very hard to find) consist of a small bowl-shaped depression on the ground covered with grasses and pine needles to form a “dome”. Bobwhite quail lay an average of one egg a day and the average clutch size is between 12-14 eggs. Once all the eggs have been laid, either adult will incubate the nest.


“The Pine Island Cranberry site in New Jersey was selected to be part of a multi-state initiative to re-establish Northern Bobwhite in the Mid-Atlantic States because of several factors; however, it was a State Approved Forest Stewardship Plan outlining long-term management goals and the extent of existing quality habitat already onsite from years of active forestry work, prescribed burning and agricultural best management practices that made it stand out above other sites in the region,” John says.



For our part, Pine Island Cranberry’s forest stewardship plan helps us to protect and improve resources by allowing forest practices to be implemented on the ground while maintaining a thriving forest ecosystem through prescribed burning, road maintenance, and boundary surveying, among other things. The cedar swamps of the New Jersey Pine Barrens help to filter and purify water by absorbing and filtering pollutants and sediment. Since the three most important things to the cranberry industry are water, water, and water, maintaining and protecting the cedar swamps are high priority. This benefits not only our land, our business, and our home, but it also helps wildlife like the bobwhite quail.



Quail update – June 2016

In April our friends at New Jersey Audubon released the second group of translocated quail on our property, and now, for the second year in a row, they are reporting active nests!

University of Delaware graduate students, Phillip Coppola and Evan Drake, contracted by NJA, discovered six active nests at the Pine Island Cranberry Bobwhite Quail translocation study site while conducting their weekly radio telemetry surveys on the quail.

This is big news!

“Not only is it very exciting to find these nests, but one nest is occupied by a collared bird from this year’s release that has paired up with an un-collared bird which means that bird is from last year’s offspring,” said Quail Initiative researcher Phil Coppola. “Nesting by individuals that were translocated only months ago reaffirms the effectiveness of this tool for augmenting Bobwhite breeding populations. This is a major step in the overall reintroduction effort for this species here in the New Jersey Pinelands.”

Pine Island Cranberry is enormously proud of taking part in this project. Our site was chosen for several reasons, among them “…a State Approved Forest Stewardship Plan outlining long-term management goals and the extent of existing quality habitat already onsite from years of active forestry work, prescribed burning and agricultural best management practices that made it stand out above other sites in the region”, according to John Parke at NJ Audubon. Caring for the place where we live, work, and grow is one of our core values, and this project is a unique opportunity to give back to the land that sustains us.

“If the quail are thriving, then we’re taking care of the land just like we’re supposed to,” says CEO Bill Haines. “Thanks to the hard work from NJ Audubon and everyone else involved with this project, we’re seeing some real progress on bringing the Bobwhite quail back to New Jersey, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

* Photos courtesy of Phil Coppola and John Parke.

Post-blizzard quail update!

Last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted an update on our beloved quail restoration project!

quail with transmitter parke

From the Inquirer article:

More than 40 quail have survived and thrived – a high number considering the relocation from their native Georgia and adjustment to new and colder surroundings, said New Jersey Audubon.

About 15 nests and 127 eggs were discovered during an August survey, said Audubon officials. Sixty-six eggs hatched in the wild, and by late October, researchers captured and placed a radio transmitter collar on their first born-and-raised New Jersey quail from the group – a 180-gram male who was larger than most of the adults. The birds, on average, weigh less than a half-pound.

Everyone involved with the project is pleased. “We hope that helping to reestablish bobwhite quail back to the South Jersey landscape, more people will recognize the need for more active stewardship and conservation of our lands in order to preserve a diversity of many native species and sustain the ecological services that these habitats also provide us,” says John Parke of New Jersey Audubon.

Quail tracks in snow 1-27-16 at home farm PIC site(PARKE)_2

The big test, however, was the blizzard that had been forecast for the region. (Theron Terhune, game bird program director for Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, said at the time: “Finding nests. . .is exciting, as this confirms that those individuals released are indeed reproducing, giving us great hope going forward. . .I would just feel better knowing in March and April how the birds fared.”)

home farm snow (PARKE)(_2

Fortunately, John Parke was able to get back to us with great news: NJ Audubon staff and research partners were able to verify that all radio collared Northern Bobwhite are doing well following the blizzard! This is in large part due to the efforts of our forest manager, Bob Williams. Per the NJ Audubon release: “The release site at Pine Island Cranberry has been stewarded through the implementation of a Forest Stewardship Plan, creating patches of young forest habitat suitable for quail and rich in cover and food resources. In addition, the wild birds are known to more quickly adapt and yield offspring that also exhibit innate survival instincts.”

kaili at pine island - parke

“While we still have a bit of winter to go, seeing that the quail have made it through this first significant weather event since their release in NJ, helps to reinforce the message that. . .[w]ith stewardship and management high quality habitat can be created, yielding a diversity of native species and providing the ecological services that these habitats historically and naturally provided,” he says.

Thank you to project researcher Kaili Stevens for the video, and thanks to all the people working so hard to make this all happen!

*All photos courtesy John Parke.

They’re here!

More fantastic news from the New Jersey Audubon quail project!

From their blog:

…13 of 14 eggs at one of the 6 active nests [have] hatched at the Pine Island Cranberry study site, the first wild hatched quail in the NJ Pinelands in nearly 3 decades!…NJ Audubon project researcher, Kaili Stevens, a graduate student from the University of Delaware, who have been monitoring survival and movement of the released wild quail through radio-telemetry discovered the hatched eggs on June 22nd. Chicks were confirmed hiding in the vegetation near the nest!!

quail hatch

Work continues at the release sites, monitoring for predators as well tracking the parents and checking on the babies! Everyone at Pine Island is excited to see the project taking wing (so to speak), and are looking forward to even better future results!

Big news!

Two wild quail nests have been found at the Sim Place site where wild Northern Bobwhite quail from Georgia were released two months ago!

Photo by Will Macaluso, University of Delaware.

Photo by Will Macaluso, University of Delaware.

“We are thrilled about this news of confirmed nests,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJ Audubon. “Wild quail had been extirpated from Pinelands since at least the late 1980’s, so knowing that the translocated quail are adapting to the site and are breeding demonstrates that forest stewardship, coupled with translocation, can help restore quail to the NJ Pinelands.”

Photo by John Parke of NJ Audubon.

Photo by John Parke of NJ Audubon.

Project researcher and graduate student Will Macaluso of the University of Delaware found the nests while radio tracking the released birds at the study site. “There are fourteen eggs in the first nest and one of the radio collared males was incubating them when I found it,” said Macaluso. However, they have yet to count the number of eggs in the other two nests. “They don’t want to disrupt the nesting females sitting on the eggs,” John says.


According to the release issued by New Jersey Audubon:

Typically Northern Bobwhite incubate their eggs for 23 days, leaving the nest for only brief times to feed. After the eggs hatch, the female, or hen, broods the young briefly and then leads them away from the nest for rearing. Hens do not feed the young. Instead the hen will lead the chicks to places where they can find insects (not seeds) which will form the bulk of their diet as they grow. Often both parents accompany the young.

So we can look forward to even better news in about a month!

Quail release

Last October, Pine Island Cranberry welcomed some of the members and staff of New Jersey Audubon for a tour of the harvest and some of the selected sites for one of our favorite projects: the quail restoration initiative.


From the NJ Audubon link above:

Recognizing the outstanding forest and land management practices at the Pine Island Cranberry site, NJ Audubon initiated discussion about a Northern Bobwhite restoration effort. These discussions included engaging several partners, starting with Pine Island Cranberry Company and Forester Bob Williams, but then quickly expanding to include Dr. Chris Williams from the University of Delaware, Dr. Theron Terhune at the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and Dave Golden with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. While Pine Island Cranberry and Bob Williams had been working diligently for several years on forest stewardship, Dr. Williams had been bringing students to the site to survey birds and other wildlife and was involved in a study of captive rearing and release techniques for quail at a site outside of NJ. NJ Audubon was also aware of the research efforts and depth of knowledge on quail conservation at the Tall Timbers Research Station. Through mutual friends NJA connected all the dots and arranged for Tall Timbers leading quail biologist to come visit with us and tour the Pine Island Cranberry property. Following that site visit and discussions about projects in nearby states, the decision was made to add the Pine Island site in New Jersey to 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 to the Pine Island Cranberry Property. Other aspects of the multi-state project include testing methods of raising and rearing captive bred quail in other states participating in the initiative, however no captive bred quail will be release in the NJ study.



On Wednesday, NJ Audubon, Tall Timbers, and Bob Williams arrived to release the first 80 quail (captured earlier this week in Georgia) on Pine Island property!




The quail have been radio-tagged for monitoring and will be tracked via transmitter for the next three years. “We will monitor reproductive success: if they nest, where they nest and how many chicks hatch out,” says University of Delaware grad student Will Macaluso.


“This is significant because this is the first time in twenty years that this has been tried in New Jersey,” says John Cecil of NJ Audubon. “The habitat here is exceptional, the way it’s supposed to be.”



“The heyday for quail in Florida and Georgia is right now with higher densities than ever,” says Theron Terhune of Tall Timbers. “Where management is done and done right, we can bring them back.”