How Rutgers Alumni are Bringing Quail Back to New Jersey

Bobwhite Quail Credits: John Parke

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Outside Rutgers Gardens and a few other choice spots, this city and its high-rise apartment buildings and busy streets seemingly bear little connection to New Jersey's vast woodlands. Yet from this urban center, Rutgers University has managed to impact the wildest stretches of the state.

Just look at the Northern Bobwhite Quail.

Not long ago, the lack of young forests all but wiped out the bird in this state, according to experts. But a trio—whose members are all linked to Rutgers University—have made strides in recent years to change that. Under the leadership of the environmental group New Jersey Audubon, they have begun to reinvigorate South Jersey's quail population—and, with hard work and some good fortune, its forests.

Sign Up for E-News

“Quail were here before. This is something that was pretty common back in the '70s and even the '80s. Then they literally just kind of vanished,” John Parke, stewardship project director for New Jersey Audubon, which spearheads the quail restoration effort, told TAPinto New Brunswick. “The main goal here, though, even with bringing back the birds, is to look at these forest systems and see what the problems are.

“And believe me: Forests are in big trouble in this state.”

A potential quail habitat in South Jersey. Photo: John Parke

New Jersey Audubon's quail translocation project sounds complex, but the idea is simple. The birds boast a healthy breeding population in Georgia. So workers capture some in the wild there and bring them up to the Pine Barrens. Each bird is then collared and tracked.

In 2015, Parke said, the first known quail nesting since the 1980s occurred in the Pinelands.

As a whole, the state and its forests need more management, and the quail act as a motivator for private landowners and others to do just that, he said.

Here's where one of the project's several links to Rutgers comes in: The state's largest private landowner, Pine Island Cranberry Co., in Burlington County, has played a big role in returning quail here. And, as reported in a spring 2017 Rutgers Magazine piece, a university alumnus and his family own the 14,000 acres, most of which is untamed forest.

Bill Haines Jr., who graduated in 1975, has always needed to maintain healthy forests for the sake of his cranberries. For 17 years, that job has largely fallen on Bob Williams, a seasoned forester and fellow member of the Class of 1975, according to Rutgers.

Together, their work made Haines' land a strong candidate to host reintroduced birds.

The first quail nest of 2017. Photo: John Parke

Fate stepped in when Parke took an agricultural leadership and development class through Rutgers, in partnership with other state groups. He and his peers visited a number of sites throughout the state. And the first was Pine Island Cranberry Co.

There, he met a woman named Becca Fenstermaker, Haines' daughter. She and Parke hit it off, he said, and began to discuss how New Jersey Audubon and Pine Island could team up. Parke then met Haines and Williams, and from there they launched the larger, three-year quail research project to restore the birds to the wetlands.

“Those connections were unbelievable,” Parke, who teaches a bird identification class at the university, said. “Rutgers is a hub for all these different connections throughout the state and getting the word out.”

For Williams, Haines and any number of South Jersey landowners, the project whose seeds were planted at Rutgers more than 40 years ago has big stakes. It could help rejuvenate local forests, improving habitats and the wildlife that depend on it.

It could also help ward off a catastrophe.

“We're going to have a bad fire in South Jersey if something isn't done,” Williams told Rutgers Magazine. “We're going to be on CNN for days.”

But something is being done. Just how much it will help New Jersey's forests is unclear. If the birds are any indicator, though, things are looking up. As of today, Aug. 9, New Jersey Audubon researchers have already identified 12 quail nests in the area.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Feeling Lucky

Shop of the morning to you! It’s that time of year when everyone’s color is green! Stop by Sadie's to get your St. Patty’s shirt before the big day. While your here and feeling lucky check out our latest Spring styles for Men and Women. You may make your friends green with envy.

Horoscope: Have a birthday between 3/13 and 3/24? If you stumble into a ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


South Orange Police Blotter - Adult Arrests for Shoplifting and DWI Reported

March 16, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of March 16

Adult Arrest/Shoplifting - William Minitee, a 45 year old Irvington resident was arrested on Thursday, March 8, at approximately 12:40 p.m. for shoplifting. Security officers at the Stop & Shop on Valley Street observed Minitee conceal several items on his person and then flee the store without paying for the items. Officers stopped a subject ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Home Burglary, Burglary at DeHart Community Center Reported

March 4 - Burglary; At approximately 1:20 a.m., officers observed a male removing several items from inside DeHart Community Center. The male was identified as 22 year old Joe Carr of Irvington. He was arrested and charged with burglary.

March 6 - Burglary; At approximately 11:30 a.m., officers responded to a home on Broadview Avenue on a report of a ...

Most South Orange Maplewood Schools Plan to Participate in National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14

March 12, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - On Wednesday, March 14, the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is organizing a National School Walkout. According to the national march website, the walkout is for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. "to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods... and to demand Congress ...

South Orange and Maplewood Share Snow Storm Photos

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ — TAPinto SOMA wants your snow storm photos!

Send your pictures to and we'll add them here.

Check back later to see what your neighbors have added.

Upcoming Events

Sun, March 18, 2:00 PM

Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood

Maplewood Strollers Present John Patrick ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, March 18, 3:00 PM

Madison Junior School, Madison

Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey Winter ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, March 18, 7:00 PM

Bow Tie South Orange Cinemas, South Orange

18th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

Arts & Entertainment Religions And Spirituality

Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Bow Tie South Orange Cinemas, South Orange

18th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

Arts & Entertainment Religions And Spirituality

Members of Brick City Brims Charged for Alleged Roles in Drug Trafficking Organization

March 17, 2018

NEWARK, NJ – Six members of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang were arrested last week for their alleged roles in a major drug trafficking organization that dealt heroin in and around Newark.

Tyrone Brown, 34, Lamarr Burwell, 22, and Miles McCloud, 37, all of Newark, and Martin Pettiford, 23, of Irvington, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to ...

Millburn Township Battle Against Proposed Stop & Shop Comes to an End

MILLBURN, NJ --  Alexander McDonald, Millburn Township Business Administrator, announced that the 24-year court battle with Stop & Shop ended with a dismissal before the pending trial commenced. Originally, Millburn Township and the Board of Adjustments faced four separate suits, which was consolidated into one case for trial. 

McDonald stated: "This has been a ...

Commemoration of Jay Kielwasser, Union Animal Control Officer

March 17, 2018

UNION, NJ – A commemoration of the late Jay Kielwasser's work as Union’s Animal Control Officer took place at Wednesday evening’s Board of Health meeting.

Board President Jackie Carter said Kielwasser, who passed away in April, was the first Animal Control officer appointed by the Board of Health. 

“You really don’t know how someone ...

Springfield Residents Cope as Power Slowly Returns

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - As of Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. Springfield is showing outage of 2,677 or 25 percent, which is down from over 40 percent in the last two hours. It is also down from 68 percent at the peak. Union County at this point is over 20 percent of JCP&L’s statewide outages. Trucks are visible on Township streets with a caravan spotted on ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - March 16 to March 22

March 16, 2018

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Litofish Sardines $5.99ea (Ashley Fish Market)
Total Fage Yogurt 4/$5
Aviv Passover Matzos 2/$7
Ground Beef $3.99lb (Meat)
Roasted Vegetables $7.99lb (Prep Food)
President Brie $6.99lb (Cheese)
Iceberg Lettuce $1.99
Serrano Ham $14.99lb (Deli)
Turkey Hill Ice Cream ...

SOMA Film Festival Starts Friday Night, March 16

The 3rd annual SOMA Film Festival is finishing up the final touches before they kickoff this weekend's event at The Woodland, Bow Tie Cinemas in South Orange, and Maplewood Theater.  

With 16 screening programs there is something for everyone. The popular Kids Program is back for two engagements with both sold out as is the Opening Night Party and Screening. 

Tickets are still ...

West Orange Elementary Teacher Succumbs to Injuries Following Accident

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Washington Elementary School first-grade teacher Patricia Villarosa, 64, of West Orange, died on Friday at University Hospital after being struck by a car on Pleasant Valley Way on Feb. 26.

Villarosa was on her way to the West Orange Board of Education meeting at the time and was struck while crossing Pleasant Valley Way near West Orange High School. The driver, a 55-year-old ...