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 Thursday, February 28. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to
609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
An amazing number of SCOTERS is staging at the mouth of the Delaware Bay and
visible from the Cape May Point State Park. On February 26, 10s of 1,000s of
scoters were seen in these waters . . . a narrow raft of scoters miles long,
extended from the rips off Cape May Point up the Delaware Bay to Brandywine
Light. In addition to this mega gathering, many thousands of scoters were
seen coming out of the Delaware Bay to the mouth. Other bonuses that day
Cape May Point included 150 N. GANNETS (coming out of the bay) and 50
RED-THROATED LOONS (in the waters offshore). The Delaware Bay is a key
staging area for RED-THROATED LOONS each spring. They gather at the mouth of
the bay before migrating north. To witness these gatherings do not count on
your naked eye or, some days, even your binoculars, but take a telescope and
study the waters off Cape May and Cape May Point between the beach and the
horizon, especially if the waters are still enough to scan for silhouetted
shapes resting low in the water.
A survey of the Maurice River on February 21 found an increase in northbound
waterfowl (955 GREEN-WINGED TEAL & 699 N. PINTAIL) and shorebirds on the
and numbers increasing (GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER,
KILLDEER, COMMON SNIPE).
100 BONAPARTE'S GULLS and an immature BALD EAGLE (which put all the
Bonaparte's Gulls UP) were enjoyed on January 25 at low tide on the flats
along the shoreline of the Delaware Bay at the end of High's Beach Road,
which is just north of Norbury's Landing.
There are 34 pairs of breeding BALD EAGLES in New Jersey right now . . .
we know of, including three new nest sites. Bald Eagles are the second
earliest nesting bird, right after Great Horned Owls. On February 3rd the
first pair of Bald Eagles began incubating their eggs. By February 21, 10
pairs in NJ had begun to incubate eggs. Today's update on February 28 from
the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program and the crew of volunteer nest
observers, shares that 19 pairs are now on eggs in New Jersey. Young
earliest nests could hatch as soon as March 10. Adults at the Stow Creek
Eagle nest, in northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County,
began incubating on February 23 (and their young should hatch at the end of
March). This nest is one of the most visible nests in New Jersey. A viewing
platform on Route 623, just north of Stow Creek, offers an excellent view.
Too, CMBO is offering 7 different MAURICE RIVER BALD EAGLE CRUISES, and many
trips still have room. The Maurice River attracts one of the largest
concentrations of wintering Bald Eagles in the state and hosts three nesting
pairs. The boat sails right by one of the nests, and the adults at this nest
began incubating eggs on February 12, so their young are due to hatch March
19. During these cruises wintering immature eagles should still be in the
area hunting the rich marshes along the Maurice River . . . so we can
promise Bald Eagles. Last year's trips enjoyed numerous looks at eagles, so
we're excited to again offer these trips, which will also offer good
returning Osprey, Belted Kingfisher nesting burrows, and more! Trip details:
Saturday, March 23 (2 trips: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.); Sunday,
March 24 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Saturday, March 30 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.);
6 (2 trips: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.); Sunday, April 7 (10
a.m.-12:30 p.m.). Pick the date that suits you and join us! Call
609-861-0700, x-11 to register.
GREAT HORNED OWLS laid their eggs at the end of January or in early February
and promptly got very quiet. The keen observer can still hear pairs calling
to one another briefly at dawn and dusk at the magic hour when light is very
dim. Keep in mind that the female is calling from the nest. One nest was
discovered on February 9th during the Cumberland County Winter Raptor
Festival. This pair of Great Horned Owls is using an old Red-tailed Hawk
that is visible from the viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point
sure to keep CMBO posted if and when you see young. It will be fun to
many this nest produces.
On February 22 a LONG-TAILED DUCK in partial breeding plumage was enjoyed in
the ocean waters off Avalon at 50th street. The ponds along Route 347 north
of Belleplain State Forest have attracted COMMON GOLDENEYES, HOODED
MERGANSERS, and RING-NECKED DUCKS. On February 26 the male Common Goldeneye
Male AMERICAN WOODCOCK are displaying in earnest most evenings at last
For their courtship display they utilize early succession fields with
scattered woody plants 1-2 feet high and come out of nearby boggy thickets.
Fields too grown up soon lose their breeding Woodcock. In Goshen the males
have been heard at 6:10 p.m. or so, beginning their courtship by "peenting"
(a loud, rasping note given every few seconds while the bird is on the
ground) for almost five minutes before beginning his flight. Suddenly he
shoots skyward and performs the most amazing aerial "dance" for nearby
females. If you've never experienced this wonderful sign of SPRING and true
love, be sure to join CMBO for one of the "Woodcock Walks at the Meadows,"
offered every FRIDAY through March 29 (5:30 p.m. till dark) and meeting at
The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking area on Sunset Boulevard. These
will teach you how and where to look and what to listen and look for, so
you might discover a spot close to home where woodcock display.
Spring has been put on hold in the last week with a blast of cold, windy
weather. Despite this the week's reports included some snakes and some
butterflies . . . before the temperatures dropped. MOURNING CLOAK reports
came in from all over. On February 21 Jakes Landing Road held 5 Mourning
Cloaks and 3 RED ADMIRALS, and a QUESTION MARK was seen in Woodbine. On
February 26, 1 Mourning Cloak was seen at the CMBO Center in Goshen and 9
along Old Robbins Trail just off of Jakes Landing Road, along with a
Mark. Mourning Cloaks were seen at the Beanery / Rea Farm on February 19 and
at Cape May Point on the 24th. A CLOUDED SULPHUR was at the Cape May Point
State Park on February 21. A little known, important spring nectar
butterflies is budding Red and Norway Maples and sure enough they are
beginning to bud, just in the nick of time for these butterflies. Speedwell
is also in bloom. A RIBBON SNAKE was seen on February 26 at the Cape May
Point State Park.
A RED BAT hunted the roads of Belleplain State Forest on February 26 during
the day. An infrequently encountered mammal was found along the trails
Cape May Point State Park on February 18, a LONG-TAILED WEASEL.
COYOTES continue to be seen and heard south of the Cape May Canal. For
eastern Coyotes they have been very vocal. One group has been heard along
Route 626 or Seashore Road a mile or so south of the Canal. One or two
have been heard from New England Road, one on either side. Coyotes have a
very restricted breeding season, generally from January through March. They
give birth in a den which they've either made themselves or remodeled from a
fox or skunk hole. These new residents are doing an excellent job of keeping
feral cats under control, or so it seems, since very few feral cats have
seen since the Coyotes moved into the area . . . certainly a positive change
for migratory songbirds!
Flowering Quince is beginning to bloom. This shrub is often the signal that
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are soon to arrive and triggers some backyard
habitat gardeners to put out their hummingbird feeders. Perhaps with the
temperatures so abnormally high we should think of doing just that in case
hummingbirds arrive long before they're normally expected and long
gardens are in bloom.
Mourning Doves and Red-winged Blackbirds continue to sing their spring
After the devastating storm of mid-January in Mexico that killed many
millions of overwintering Monarchs (much more information on this in Monarch
Watch's Dplex-L Email Discussion List -- go to: http://www.MonarchWatch.org/dplex)
every single MONARCH sighting this spring will be significant. Wildlife
friendly gardens and meadows with milkweed (that has been spared the mower)
will be crucial to the small number of survivors that we are now counting on
to parent future generations that we hope will populate the U.S. all the way
north to southern Canada. If you have considered gardening for butterflies,
but not known where to start, begin by signing up for CMBO's series of
workshops on "Gardening for Wildlife." For more details go to:
http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html Or see blurb further
Four of CMBO's weekly winter walks are underway. And a lot of goodies are
around. These walks require no preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge
($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember).
(1) The "Woodcock Walk at the Meadows" (highlighted above) is offered every
FRIDAY, through March 29 (5:30 p.m. till dark) and meets at The Nature
Conservancy's refuge parking area on Sunset Boulevard.
(2) The "Birding Cape May Point" walk is offered every SATURDAY, through
March 30 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the Cape May Point State Park
raised picnic pavilion. Some of the goodies enjoyed at Cape May Point so far
this winter include RED-THROATED LOON, TUNDRA SWAN, AMERICAN BITTERN & LEAST
PINTAIL, HOODED MERGANSERS, N. SHOVELER, CANVASBACK, COOT, RING-NECKED DUCK,
SNIPE, CEDAR WAXWING, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, PURPLE
FINCH, BALTIMORE ORIOLE and more!
(3) The "Sunday Morning at Turkey Point" walk is offered every SUNDAY,
through March 31 (8 to 10 a.m.), and 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). Pete & Linda Dunne, and Karen
Williams are the leaders and so far this winter have been enjoying at Turkey
Point lots of close looks at SNOW GEESE, GREAT HORNED OWLS on a nest,
RED-TAILED HAWKS on territory, adult and immature BALD EAGLES, ROUGH-LEGGED
HAWKS, MARSH WRENS, VIRGINIA and CLAPPER RAILS, and some days even looks at
FOX, OTTER, and one day a MINK. There have also been lots of waterfowl,
including COMMON MERGANSER, HOODED MERGANSER and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER.
Shorebirds enjoyed there include: AMERICAN
WOODCOCK, SNIPE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS & LESSER YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN and DOWITCHER.
(4) The "Delaware Bayshore Birding" walk is offered every MONDAY, through
April 1 (10 a.m. to Noon), and meets at the CMBO Center for Research &
Education in Goshen. N. HARRIERS, ROUGH-LEGGED & RED-TAILED HAWKS, BALD
EAGLE, BLACK VULTURES, thousands upon thousands of SNOW GEESE, BROWN
FOX SPARROW, E. MEADOWLARK, and more are all possible.
For a complete listing of CMBO's WINTER PROGRAMS (January through March
stop by either of our centers and pick up the Winter Kestrel Express, or
609-861-0700 and ask us to mail it to you, or go to:
HIGHLIGHTS OF UPCOMING PROGRAMS (in addition to those already detailed
Three remaining "GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS" in the series (all still
have room): (1) Saturday, March 2: "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird
Garden." (2) Saturday, March 9: "How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & a Pond
for Wildlife." (3) Saturday, March 16: "How to Maintain Your Wildlife
Habitat." All run from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and will be taught by Pat Sutton
and Karen Williams. Learn how to enhance your backyard landscaping for
wildlife. Shake the winter, embrace spring, and come learn how you can plan
your own backyard to attract showy hummingbirds, monarchs and other
butterflies, bluebirds and other nesting birds, wintering birds, and so much
more! These workshops have been scheduled for late winter, the perfect time
to plan your gardens, order plants and seeds, and dream of the coming
The first workshop is the backbone to the series and will supply a good
foundation for the other three workshops. Topics covered during the final
workshop will include pruning and shaping trees and shrubs, techniques for
late winter clean-up, spring chores like dividing and moving perennials, new
bed preparation, soil maintenance and nourishment, selection of annual seed
varieties, starting annuals from seed, and much more. Each workshop will
include a question and answer session regarding each landowner's particular
situation. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.
Join us for one or both of the BIRDING FOR BEGINNERS (Wednesday, March 6;
Saturday, March 16) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. These slow-paced field trips will
visit one or more natural areas on Cape Island. Each meets at the CMBO
Northwood Center in Cape May Point and begins with that site's feeding
station. Other destinations will be chosen based on the weather and on
sightings. No previous birding experience necessary. Time will be spent with
every bird seen, discussing identification and natural history. No need to
register, JUST COME. There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10
"7th GREAT ANNUAL DUCK ROUND-UP IN CAPE MAY & CUMBERLAND COUNTIES" on
Saturday, March 9 (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) with Pete Dunne and Jay Darling
(Captain of the Mighty Waterfowlers Team on the World Series of Birding).
Oceanfront hotspots and little known Delaware Bayshore sites will be
Late winter/early spring is the time of peak diversity; 23 or so species of
waterfowl, plus an assortment of other sea and land birds, is possible!
There's still room!!! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.
A program on the "GALAPAGOS ISLANDS" will be offered Saturday, March 16,
p.m. at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen. A trip in 2001
be featured but details about a trip Pete Dunne will be leading in 2002 will
also be shared.
"WELCOME SPRING" on Wednesday, March 20, from 1-6 p.m., with Mark Garland
still has room and will explore spring unfolding on Cape Island. Call
609-861-0700, x-11 to register.
CMBO's 7th ANNUAL OPTICS SALE will be held March 23 and 24 (9 a.m. to 5
p.m.). You must be a member of NJ Audubon or CMBO to take advantage of the
great deals, so join today if you're not already a member and plan to
CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Call 609-861-0700 for
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
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 made on
Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at
-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call -898-BIRD.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
Patricia Sutton, Program Director
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) firstname.lastname@example.org