Fire has returned to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, and with it the fire birds that disappeared in the 1980s because of habitat loss.
New Jersey Audubon started reintroducing bobwhite quail to a Pine Island cranberry farm in 2015, toting the birds to their new home from Georgia.
The migrants built and populated nests later that year, and more reintroductions followed. Now Bill Haines, the farm’s owner, has been awarded the National Fire Bird Conservation Award from the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.
Michael Sol Warren covered the event for NJ.com and provided this background for his readers:
“Bobwhite quail are nicknamed “fire birds” – hence the name of the award Haines received – because they’re known to thrive in forests that burn on a regular basis.
“Forest habitats go through various stages through time, changing as trees mature.
“Bobwhite quail live in early successional forests, habitats like grasslands, old fields and young forests. This habitat requires disturbance, often in the form of fire, to keep from changing into more mature forest.”
Haines has worked to restore the pine forest habitat on his property for the past 16 years, initially to improve the farm’s water quality.
“Ultimately, it’s not just about the quail or the environmental protection,” daughter Stefanie Haines told NJ.com. “It’s just the right thing to do. If you have a resource, you have to take care of it.”
Part of the restoration involved reintroducing fire to the Pine Barrens, said Bob Williams, owner of Pine Creek Forestry. He’s touting the success at Pine Island Cranberry Co. as a model not only for other areas of the Pine