August 7, 2007

CONTACT: Mary Lynn Williams, 908-527-4346


Yellow-Crowned Night Herons
Are Living in Roselle
Another Threatened Species Chooses Union County as Home

Roselle, NJ – A pair of yellow-crowned night herons with two chicks has been spotted nesting in the canopy of some mature trees in Roselle, New Jersey, near Warinanco Park. The birds have been nesting there for about three years.

“Union County is one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey. Despite that, there is an abundance of wildlife in our parks, waterways and neighborhoods,” said Union County Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “Our park system and the urban and suburban areas located near our parks provide the three main components – food, water, and shelter – for many different birds and wildlife.”

Generally, herons find refuge in wooded swamps, fresh and saltwater marshes and thickets. Yellow crowns prefer to hunt in open water, mud flats, and in partially submerged vegetation. The species requires shallow water habitats with an abundance of invertebrates, insects and fish.

The Endangered and Non-game Species Program (ENSP) documents reports of yellow-crowned night herons nesting in residential neighborhoods, parks, campgrounds, and other areas in close proximity to humans. It is considered unusual to find the species in an urban area like Roselle.

“We may begin to see more wildlife settling in Union County,” Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski further explained. “In New Jersey, coastal development has eliminated much of the habitat these birds find suitable.”

From 1970 to about 1980 there was a steady decline in the number of breeding pairs of the yellow-crowned night heron. As a result of population decline and habitat loss, in 1984 the yellow-crowned night heron was listed as a threatened species in New Jersey.

The lake in Warinanco Park was restored recently. More than 20,000 aquatic plants, perennials, trees and shrubs were planted among carefully placed boulders to prevent erosion and stabilize the banks. The restoration has resulted in an increase in wildlife to the area. The yellow-crowned night herons frequent Warinanco Park and have been spotted at the lake along the shoreline. Yellow-crowned night herons are migratory birds. They usually begin to leave the colder northern areas around August or September.

Union County has become home to numerous threatened and endangered bird species. These include black-crowned herons that live in Warinanco Park and a pair of peregrine falcons that recently bred atop the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth.