Some bald eagles are getting a jump on the nesting season, according to biologist Larissa Smith of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Eagles in the state usually begin incubating eggs from January through March, and Eagle Project volunteers report they are back working on their nests in late fall and early winter, according to Smith.

“But some pairs have already been spotted sprucing up their nests in preparation for the upcoming nesting season,” said Smith in a recent blog post.

Large numbers of nesting eagles have been reported along the Delaware Bay and its estuaries, and smaller numbers in more heavily populated areas such as along Patcong Creek from Somers Point to Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County.

Smith said eagles have been spotted working on nests earlier in the fall over the past few years. And they have slowly begun laying eggs earlier as well.

When she started in her job, she said the earliest egg layers were in February, but now the earliest are seen laying eggs in January.

She said she isn’t sure whether eagle behavior has changed or if a larger population of eagles has led to more spottings.

Bald eagle numbers have increased drastically in the past 20 years. Their numbers continued to increase in New Jersey in 2017, with 178 nest sites monitored, up from 172 last year.

There are also more volunteers in the field now, Smith said.

Species on the Edge art and essay contest for 5th graders

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is running an art and essay contest for fifth-graders, asking them to pick one of more than 80 endangered New Jersey species to advocate for via an essay and accompanying art piece.

The foundation has materials online for teachers, including a weeklong Common Core and NextGen Science unit and a quick one-day introduction.

All educator materials, including handouts, slideshow presentations and detailed lesson plans, are included with the contest kit.

Visit the foundation’s website for more information.

Planting a tree that will live happily for decades where you put it

Learn how to choose tree species wisely for your property at a free seminar given by the New Jersey Tree Foundation and Public Service Electric & Gas.

“Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place, the Right Way” will be held 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Moorestown Town Hall, 111 W. Second St.

Topics to be covered include choosing species for the space, resilience against pests and storms, planting and maintenance, the importance of utility mark-outs prior to planting, and utility tree trimming.

Participants can earn three Continuing Education Units for towns with a five-year Community Forestry Management Plan. The seminar is also approved by the International Society of Arboriculture for three arborist certification renewal credits, and by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for 3 CEUs for Public Works employees.

To register, email your name, town/organization and email address by Nov. 30 to Lisa Simms at LSimms@NJTreeFoundation.org. Seating is limited.

Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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