Updated on September 16, 2017 at 9:16 AMPosted on September 16, 2017 at 9:15 AM
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
CHATSWORTH -- Before June 6, 2015, bobwhite quail nests had not been spotted in New Jersey since the 1980s. The birds had essentially disappeared from the Pine Barrens, for reasons generally unknown. All signs, however, point to habitat loss.
New Jersey Audubon has been reintroducing bobwhite quail on Bill Haines' Pine Island cranberry farm in Chatsworth since April 2015. Just months after the first release of birds, originally trapped in Georgia, the nests were found.
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, which is made up of 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. For decades, a lack of fire in the Pine Barrens has meant that these early successional have disappeared, according to forester Bob Williams.