Important Bird and Birding Areas
Fortescue Glades Wildlife Refuge

IBBA Site Guide

Cumberland County
Coordinates: N 39.2428
W 75.13038
Site Map
Delaware Bay: New England / Mid-Atlantic Coast

Area: 20,694 Acres     

Habitat: Primarily tidal salt marsh and upland forest

Site Description: This site is largely composed of the vast tidal salt marsh of Fortescue Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Egg Island WMA and Glades Wildlife Refuge in southern Cumberland County. Additional habitats include mixed upland forest, cultivated fields and two beaches along the Delaware Bay, Fortescue and Raybins. This site includes the interspersed woodlots of Turkey Point Glades Natural Heritage Priority Site and the intertidal and high marsh of the Turkey Point Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite. The wetlands within this site are part of the Delaware Bay Wetlands, an internationally recognized wetland of importance designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, a treaty signed in 1971 for the purpose of wetlands conservation. These wetlands are also recognized as a Hemispheric Reserve as part of an intercontinental network of protected sites known formally as the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

IBA Criteria:
Conservation Concern – State-endangered (B)Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon
Conservation Concern – State-threatened (B)Osprey
Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Mixed Upland Forest (B)Acadian Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, Black-and-white Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Blue Jay, Boat-tailed Grackle, Broad-winged Hawk, Carolina Chickadee, Common Grackle, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Gray Catbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Kentucky Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Flicker, Scarlet Tanager, Tufted Titmouse, Whip-poor-will, Wild Turkey, Wood Thrush, Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo
Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Salt Marsh/Wetland (B)American Black Duck, Clapper Rail, Marsh Wren, Osprey, Seaside Sparrow, Virginia Rail, Willet
Significant Congregations (B)Wading Birds
Significant Migrant Stopover/Flyover (SM)Shorebirds
Significant Migrant Stopover/Flyover (FM, SM)Landbirds
Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech OwlMike Lyncheski
Birds: The site provides extensive breeding and foraging habitat for several state-listed raptors including state-endangered Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and Peregrine Falcons as well as state-threatened Ospreys. Breeding salt marsh/wetland dependant birds include American Black Ducks, Seaside Sparrows, Marsh Wrens, Willets, and Virginia, Clapper, Black and King Rails. Thousands of migrating shorebirds including Red Knot and Ruddy Turnstone stopover at Fortescue and Raybins beaches to feed on protein-rich horseshoe crab eggs before departing for their breeding grounds in the arctic. A Doppler Radar migration study, “Oases Along the Flyway,” conducted by the Research Department of New Jersey Audubon Society has confirmed this site as critical stopover habitat for migrating songbirds during spring and fall migration. Fortescue Glades Wildlife Refuge also provides valuable roosting and foraging habitat for as many as 20 wintering Bald Eagles.

Conservation: Beach erosion and rising sea levels threaten bayside habitats throughout the Delaware Estuary including those of Egg Island Point, Fortescue and Raybins beaches. Development and implementation of long term protection for bayshore habitats is needed to ensure habitat availability to migrating shorebirds. The practice of salt marsh ditching to control mosquito populations and create tillable land likely impacts the hydrology in portions of the site. Additionally, the common reed (Phragmites australis), an aggressive invasive plant species, has replaced much of the beneficial marsh vegetation along creek channels. Oil spills occasionally affect this region as it contains the nation’s third largest petrochemical port. Protection and restoration of privately-owned parcels adjacent to this IBA can be accomplished by promoting landowner incentives for protecting and managing habitat and by prioritizing parcels for acquisition. Natural Lands Trust, a regional non-profit conservation organization, is currently negotiating to purchase and protect more of the region with assistance from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, The William Penn Foundation and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The organization first created the Glades Wildlife Refuge in 1963 with the purchase of 956 acres. Natural Lands Trust staff also erects nest boxes for Eastern Screech-Owls, Barn Owls and Osprey. Surveys of wintering Bald Eagles have been conducted in this region for almost 20 years.

Additional Information: Site Report
Fortescue Glades Refuge
Fortescue Glades RefugeSteve Eisenhauer