Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nature Now Offers Glimpse at Nature Happenings in the Parks

If you've never visited the Park System's Nature Now page, you're missing out. Published by a group of our Park System Naturalists, this page offers a look at the animals and plants recently spotted within our various parks. Check out the most recent posts:

Flying Squirrels at the Manasquan Reservoir
A lucky group of third graders got to see young flying squirrels during their class trip to the Manasquan Reservoir. Two species of flying squirrels are native to New Jersey, the northern and southern flying squirrels. These nocturnal animals are common, but seldom seen. They are active at night, high in the tree canopy.  Flying squirrels do not fly, but glide. A membrane that extends from their front to back legs allows them to glide from tree to tree. They can steer as they glide by adjusting their legs. Flying squirrels nest in abandoned woodpecker holes in dead trees.  

Blowfish Found at Bayshore Waterfront Park
During a recent saltwater seining program near Sandy Hook Bay, Park System Naturalists found a blowfish or northern puffer fish, in a seine net. Without a doubt, third graders visiting the park during a school field trip were thrilled to see the little fish as it puffed up about twice its size by inhaling air or water into a special organ near its stomach. Thanks to improving water quality in New York Harbor, blowfish are becoming more common sights. They can be found from spring through fall, leaving the harbor in the winter for deeper ocean waters.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Wolf Hill Recreation Area
This is a very secretive bird and if were not for their loud and distinct call most would go unnoticed. It is a common breeder in Monmouth County and can be found in most of our parks during the summer months.
Yellow-billed cuckoos live in wooded habitats with dense cover, abandoned farmland, and dense thickets along streams and marshes. This is one of the few bird species that feeds on hairy caterpillars. Cuckoos have been known to devour 100 tent caterpillars at one sitting. They will also feed on insects, frogs and lizards. The cuckoo will lay its eggs several days apart thus the ages of the chicks can vary as much as five days. During times of scarce food the male cuckoo may remove the youngest bird from the nest. The nesting cycle is only 17 days from hatching to fledging. Both parents take part in the brooding and switch often during the day. The male however will stay with the nest all night. Once in awhile yellow-billed cuckoos will lay their eggs in nests of other birds such as robins, catbirds and wood thrushes.

Be sure to check out this page weekly, especially during the warm weather months, to learn more about our local nature findings.

No comments:

Post a Comment