CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE A/O December 21, 2001
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
update was made on Friday, December 21st, and will be updated every
other week due to holidays and travel. So, look for the next updates on
January 3rd & 17th. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to
609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
1-2 SNOWY OWLS continue to be seen DAILY at Forsythe NWR (known fondly
as "Brig" or "Brigantine Refuge"), including today December 21. The
first bird showed up November 20, two were seen Nov. 22, and by Nov.
24th 3 were being reported. The last report of all three seen in one
day was on December 1st. 2 were seen in the same day on December 19th.
Most recently they have been favoring the northern half of the East
Pool. Observers are conscientiously writing their sightings in the log
book, so double check it before heading out onto the dike. Snowy Owls
can be quite sedentary during the day, tucking in out of the wind but
often choosing a sunny spot. Be sure to scan the marsh and mud edges, as
well as any elevated perch, like the small cedars or snags in the East
Pool. One wouldn't think that a large white owl could hide, but they
are quite capable of being easily overlooked. If you don't succeed on
your own, look for the gathering of birders with scopes & you're sure to
find the Snowys.
It is quite a winter for SNOWY OWLS. Two others were found on the Cape
May Christmas Bird Count on December 16. One in the marshes west of
Ocean Drive between Cape May and Wildwood Crest near Two Mile Landing
and the other at Stone Harbor Point perched atop one of the last
houses. December 17 and 19 a Snowy Owl was found on the beach in North
Wildwood near New Jersey and Spruce Avenues (perhaps the Stone Harbor
Point bird). Today, December 21, a Snowy Owl was discovered in Avalon
on the beach at 65th Street. If you should enjoy one of these Snowy
Owls or discover your own, please educate beach goers so that they don't
walk too close and disturb the bird(s).
The AVALON SEAWATCH (7th Street and the beach in Avalon) began on
September 22nd and will end December 22nd. As of December 18th, close
to 700,000 seabirds were recorded there by Karl Bardon, the counter, and
Brennan Mulrooney. Some of the species totals follow: 74,300+
RED-THROATED LOONS, 3,650 COMMON LOONS, 44 HORNED GREBE, 4 RED-NECKED
GREBE, 33,500+ N. GANNETS, 137 BROWN PELICANS, 169,000+ DOUBLE-CRESTED
CORMORANT, 74 GREAT CORMORANT, 5,500 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 KING EIDER, 23
COMMON EIDER, 1 HARLEQUIN DUCK, 1,100 LONG-TAILED DUCK, 131,600 BLACK
SCOTER, 145,000 SURF SCOTER, 2,250 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, 1,950
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 164 PARASITIC JAEGER, 2 POMARINE JAEGER, 380
BONAPARTE'S GULL, 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, 1 GLAUCOUS GULL (Dec. 15),
1 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Nov. 1), 2 BLACK TERN, 8 RAZORBILL (including
1 on Dec. 17 and 2 on Dec. 9), and 1 DOVEKIE (Nov. 16). For a look at
some of the past years of CMBO's Avalon Seawatch, go to:
Even though CMBO's Avalon Seawatch will end on December 22nd, this is a
good winter spot to visit. LONG-TAILED DUCKS, RED-THROATED LOONS, and
PURPLE SANDPIPER (on the jetties) can be enjoyed there all winter.
Often at high tide the Long-tailed Ducks are right around the jetty and
at lower tides they may be further out. Bring a scope and your
binoculars and enjoy the show. Be sure to check Avalon and Stone
Harbor's back bay areas for BUFFLEHEAD, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER,
HORNED GREBE, SCAUP, and the thousands of BRANT.
A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (now determined to be an immature male -- with
rufous on its back), first found December 8, continues at feeders in
Cape May Point, and was most recently seen today, December 21. It is
coming to the feeder at 404 Central Avenue and the feeder across the
street at 407 Central Avenue, 1 block from Lily Lake. Both feeders can
be easily viewed from your car from the roadshoulder.
Any hummingbird seen this late in the season is NOT likely to be a
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but instead a western rarity. This November
and December quite a few western hummingbirds have been found in New
Jersey. Others include: (1) A female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (positively
ID'd when, at the yard owner's request, it was banded), first found
November 28, continued at a feeder in Barnegat Light at least until
December 8. (2) reports from North Jersey include 2 CALLIOPE
HUMMINGBIRDS in New York City. So, if you should see a hummingbird now,
take careful notes, try to capture it on film or video, and be sure to
call in your reports to CMBO.
It's a great time of year to treat yourself to a journey along the
Delaware Bayshore for winter raptors. On December 20th, from the viewing
platform at the end of Turkey Point Road (reached from Dividing Creek in
Cumberland County) a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a BALD EAGLE, 2 GREATER
YELLOWLEGS, and dozens of hunting N. HARRIER were enjoyed. The
Rough-legged Hawk was only one of several reports so far this winter.
There are dozens of excellent vantage points for winter raptors,
including the various roads out to the Delaware Bay all along the
western edge of Cape May and Cumberland Counties. Begin in Cape May
County at Jakes Landing and work your way north and west to Stipson's
Island Road, East Point, then cross the Maurice River and head towards
Port Norris where you can access the marsh via a number of boardwalked
trails and an observation tower at Bivalve, then continue on 553 west
and enjoy access at Warren Avenue, Robbinstown Road, Berrytown Road,
Hansey Creek Road, Maple Street, Turkey Point, Fortescue Road, Gandy's
Beach Road, Newport Landing and on and on and on. Pick up one of the
Patton Maps to Cumberland County so you don't get too lost, but getting
lost might be key to finding even more in this rich area.
BALD EAGLES are paired up and getting ready for the upcoming nesting
season. Many adults are spending part of each day near their nests
now. NJ's nesting BALD EAGLE population stood at 31 pair in 2001. Who
knows what 2002 will bring! If you should see any nesting activity,
which is very likely at this time of year, be sure to report it to
Larissa Smith at the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program's
Tuckahoe office: 609-628-2103. Adults with sticks are surely taking
them back to their nests. All such sightings are of interest.
Pairs of GREAT HORNED OWLS have been very vocal of late at dawn and
dusk. With day length shortening, they often begin their dueting as
early as 2:30 p.m. Each pair calling is near its potential nest site.
Their hooting is a declaration of the territory they've set up. If you
should hear the male's hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," and the
female's lower answer ("wooo woooo") you can be assured that a pair will
nest somewhere nearby come late January. Now that the deciduous trees
are bare and you can see through a forest, it is time to haunt the woods
looking for old raptor, crow, or heron nests that Great Horned Owls may
nest in, they being our earliest nesting bird, often laying eggs by late
FYI, it is now DEER HUNTING SEASON, so be extra cautious when walking in
the woods. SUNDAYS are SAFE all over New Jersey; there is NO HUNTING on
SUNDAYS. Roughly from December 3 through January 4 (in Cape May County)
birders / naturalists should take precautions and wear something blaze
orange (hat or vest) when in the woods. NJ is broken up into 45+ zones,
each with its own hunting dates; check the "New Jersey Fish & Wildlife
Digest" for dates that apply to areas near you.
The meadow at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen has
attracted a feeding flock of E. BLUEBIRDS that may very well winter at
this site. The wildflower and tall grass meadow, as well as the still
standing gardens (full of plant stalks and seed heads), is insect rich
and very attractive to wintering bluebirds, just the way we planned it
in CMBO's "Model Backyard Habitat."
Thousands of AMERICAN ROBINS are wintering here this winter due to the
heavy crop of berries on American Holly trees. If you've found a holly
forest heavy with berries, just watch and wait and you're sure to be
entertained by trees full of robins gorging themselves.
The Cape May Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on December 16th followed a
night of temperatures in the low 20s. Despite that, butterflies were
seen during the count, including 15 ORANGE SULPHURS, 2 COMMON BUCKEYE,
and an AMERICAN LADY. On December 15th, in Chester, Pennsylvania, CBC
goers discovered a RED ADMIRAL at the Taylor Arboretum.
FOX are active at their dens now, excavating fresh dirt in preparation
for their next breeding season. A pile of fresh dirt at a den right now
is a sure sign that it will be used. COYOTE reports continue to come in
south of the Cape May Canal, and for eastern Coyotes they are being very
vocal. One group has been heard along Route 626 or Seashore Road a mile
or so south of the Canal. One or two groups have been heard from New
England Road, one on either side. These new residents are doing an
excellent job of keeping feral cats under control, or so it seems, since
very few feral cats have been seen since the Coyotes moved into the area
. . . certainly a positive change for migratory songbirds!
The Cape May Bird Observatory's 2001 CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH, sponsored by
Swarovski Optic and manned by Bruce McWorter (the counter) and Brennan
Mulrooney, recorded 28,851 raptors between September 1 and November 30.
Species totals and peak flights follow. 104 BLACK VULTURE (25 on Nov.
11 & 17); 1,051 TURKEY VULTURE (200 on Nov. 11); 1,645 OSPREY (143 on
Sept. 29); 229 BALD EAGLE (16 on Oct. 7); 1,204 N. HARRIER (76 on Oct.
27); 12,927 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (730 on Oct. 18); 1,874 COOPER'S HAWK (92
on Oct. 28); 29 GOSHAWK (5 on Nov. 17); 343 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (61 on
Oct. 28); 1,229 BROAD-WINGED HAWK (421 on Sept. 28); 1 SWAINSON'S HAWK
on Oct. 26; 1,049 RED-TAILED HAWK (168 on Oct. 28); -0- "NO"
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (from the Hawkwatch this fall); 10 GOLDEN EAGLE (3 on
Nov. 6); 5,188 AMERICAN KESTREL (944 on Oct. 7); 1,380 MERLIN (177 on
Oct. 25); 588 PEREGRINE (55 on Oct. 6); 28,851 TOTAL RAPTORS (1,827 on
Oct. 7). For a look at the first 23 years of the Cape May Hawkwatch go
Katy Duffy and her husband, Patrick Matheny, ran the CAPE MAY OWL
BANDING PROJECT (October 25 - November 17, 2001) at the peak of the fall
owl migration, and documented a fabulous migration by banding 277 owls
(1 BARN OWL, a record 70 LONG-EARED OWLS, and 206 SAW-WHET OWLS).
CMBO's MONARCH MONITORING PROJECT (September 1 - October 31, 2001)
tagged about 6,700 MONARCHS. This year's team: Chris Kisiel, our
Monarch Migration Technician; Louise Zemaitis, Michael O'Brien, LuAnn
Tracy, and Patsy Eickelberg. Four of these tagged Monarchs were seen
elsewhere along their journey as they headed to the mountains of Mexico
(where they will spend the winter). Two in Chincoteague, Virginia; 1 on
Assateague Island, Virginia; and 1 in Orlando, Florida. For a history
of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project and details on this fall's weekly
road census, go to:
UPCOMING PROGRAM NEWS follows:
For a copy of CMBO's WINTER PROGRAMS (January through March 2002) stop
by either of our centers and pick up the Winter Kestrel Express, or call
609-861-0700 and ask us to mail it to you, or go to:
A "Purple Martin Workshop" on January 19 (10 a.m.-Noon) at the CMBO
Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Yes, it's time to begin
thinking of preparations for your own backyard so that you're ready for
the 2002 Purple Martin season & perhaps enjoy more success than you ever
have in the past! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.
"ALL ABOUT OWLS: Workshop and Field Trip" offered from 1-5:30 p.m. on 3
different dates: Saturday, January 19; Wednesday, January 23;, and
Friday, February 1. Pat Sutton, coauthor of "How to Spot an Owl," will
teach these workshops. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register
WEEKLY WINTER WALKS (beginning in January 2002) REQUIRING NO
(1) "Delaware Bayshore Birding," every Monday, January 14 to April 1 (10
a.m. to Noon), meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education in
(2) "Birding Cape May Point," every Saturday, January 19 to March 30 (10
a.m. to Noon), meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised
(3) "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point," every Sunday, January 20 to March
31 (8 to 10 a.m.), meets at the wildlife viewing platform at the end of
Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County (reached from Route 553 west or
north of the town of Dividing Creek).
The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the
New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the
ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your
membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information
call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route
47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's
Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and
CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.
The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey
Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May,
Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are
usually made on Thursday evenings (except during this holiday season,
when they will be made every other Thursday). Please report natural
history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape
May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)