BELMAR, NJ — It’s a good thing that Gov. Murphy closed the parks in April because on a cold April morning Mei-An Raicer decided to jog on the beach in Belmar, instead of the park. She came across two strange birds wrapped together in braided fishing line.  They were American oystercatchers — beach nesters that are “a species of special concern” in New Jersey.

No doubt they were migrating north and maybe thinking about nesting in Belmar. After all, why not choose such a great town!

Because the birds were basically tethered together, Mei-An caught them easily and took off her winter coat to protect them from the cold. She is not just an animal lover, but also a veterinary surgeon who always has a Swiss army knife. She sat down and got to work.

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It took her 40 minutes to free the birds, one of which had a badly swollen foot. The first bird flew off immediately, but the second needed a few minutes before it was ready to take flight as well.

Fishing line of all types, but especially braided fishing line, can be deadly to all bird life. Belmar has several collection stations located at the Belmar marina and at the Shark River Inlet. Unfortunately, some fishermen are careless with their fishing line, so if you see any on the ground, please make sure you pick it up and dispose of it properly.

A few weeks later, Mei-An spotted a pair of oystercatchers behaving oddly around Ninth Avenue, and she discovered that they had laid an egg in the sand. Conserve Wildlife of New Jersey was alerted and its staff fenced off the nesting birds the same day. 

So next time you’re on the beach and you spot the black and white bird with the striking red bill, give them a little space. Please pick up any trash you see and maybe we can share the shore with the other wildlife that calls the Jersey Shore home.