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Holgate, NJ Holds Hope for Endangered Bird’s Repopulation

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Earlier this week, I felt immense sadness watching a Facebook video shared with me by someone on our NJIN team stating that nearly 1 in 3 wild birds in the U.S. have disappeared since 1970. The greatest threat to birds today is loss of habitat. Images of beautiful birds, injured or dead, glided across the screen. I felt hopeless and helpless, angered at the devastation human growth so consistently causes in nature.

Then, a few days later, I received my monthly newsletter from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. The feature story’s title was “Great News for Piping Plovers Along New Jersey’s Coast.” As I read the article, I realized that here was a story of how nature heals itself organically and how human involvement can protect such a beautiful process. It felt serendipitous – this message of hope so closely following my feelings of defeat.

The NJIN team wanted to share this story with you to remind all of us that with nature’s resilience + human support, we as a planet can rejuvenate from the damage we’ve inflicted.


In his story featured on the CFW blog, Wildlife Biologist, Todd Pover, explains how the beach at Holgate, New Jersey was transformed into the perfect breeding ground for the endangered Piping Plover due to the catastrophic effects of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The storm decimated the New Jersey coast and also decimated the established dune system on Holgate beach – which surprisingly ended up creating ideal conditions for nesting Piping Plovers.

These birds prefer breeding grounds that are open and sparsely vegetated – after the flattening of the dunes in 2012, the beach provided this exact landscape. The storm also created an “overwash,” which occurs when sand is pushed into a bay, which now allows for baby chicks to nest and feed conveniently in the shallow water without needing to wait for low tides to expose food. Combine these conditions with the involvement of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge which ensures that Holgate beaches are closed during nesting season and CFW’s contribution to monitor Holgate’s nesting birds and you get the latest haven for Piping Plover repopulation! Holgate currently has 49 nesting pairs and the population has increased fourfold since the events of 2012.

This story amazed our NJIN team. What a profound example this is of two things. First, that what is initially considered devastation can later create circumstances that bring about healing. And second, when you combine nature’s power for rejuvenation with human collaboration, you get miraculous results.

Here at NJIN, we are choosing to remember this: while the human population has the potential to inflict devastation in nature, we also have the potential to collaborate with nature and support it. It is our choice – may we each make it as wisely and wholeheartedly as we can.

Julie Kucks is a freelance content writer for New Jersey Institute of Nature and Cedar Hill Prep. Her work has also been featured in Fine Living Lancaster. Julie's writing interests include sustainable living practices, permaculture, mental health, and the power of breathwork. She also enjoys piano tuning, singing and songwriting, playing mountain dulcimer, hiking, and carousing with her kittens, Nike & Lionne.



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