Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/13/2003
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, March 13. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at 609-898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings."

New Jersey's breeding population of BALD EAGLES is soaring! In 2002, 34 pairs were monitored. By March 2003, 37 active pairs are busy mating, adding sticks to their nests or building news nests, driving off immature eagles near their nests, laying eggs, and in some cases tending eggs that were laid in early February. The earliest eggs laid are due to hatch any day. In mid-January, the Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey tallied an exciting 106 Bald Eagles in South Jersey, including many birds on the Maurice River. Eagle activity on the Maurice River is still strong and will continue to be. Two pairs nest on the river and many additional eagles hunt the area because food is so plentiful there -- waterfowl numbers are growing and muskrats abound. If you like eagles, treat yourself to one of CMBO's very special and very promising "Maurice River Bald Eagle Cruises." The following morning trips (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) still have a few places left (but call 609-861-0700, x-11 soon to sign up): Saturday, March 22; Sunday, March 23; Sunday, March 30; Saturday, April 5; and Sunday, April 6.

Our earliest nesting bird is the Great Horned Owl and by now their young may be a month old. Females are still on the nest, but will begin sitting higher and higher as the young grow. Sadly the nest discovered in Avalon on an Osprey Platform failed in early March and there has been no sign of the owls since. Attend CMBO's two evening walks to perhaps see or hear Great Horned Owls and other treats: "Nightfall at Jakes Landing" on Friday, March 14 (4:30 p.m. to dark -- meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road), "Winter Evenings at the Meadows" on Saturday, March 15 (4:30 p.m. to dark -- meets in The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking area on Sunset Boulevard).

Barred Owls are noisy now in the deep wet woods of New Jersey as they lay claim to their nesting territory. By the end of the month or a week or so before they may lay their first egg in a large tree cavity or nest box. A wonderful way to learn all about nesting Barred Owls and follow an active nest site in New England can be found at: http://www.owlcam.com

RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are courting in the back bays of Avalon and Stone Harbor, a sight to behold! Red-tailed Hawks have been paired up for some time. American Woodcock are courting, a special spring treat. Sign up for CMBO's "Sky Dance of the Woodcock" on Sunday, March 16 (5-7 p.m.) by calling 609-861-0700, x-11.

Despite the continued winter-y weather spring migration is underway! Waterfowl numbers are growing (800 N. PINTAILS at Bivalve on 3/11, tons of waterfowl in the back bays behind Stone Harbor & Avalon, 100 CANVASBACKS at Brigantine NWR on 3/13), OSPREY sightings continue to come in, PIPING PLOVERS have arrived (3/11 at Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May NWR).

Common Loons numbers are building. Many were found in the back bays in Avalon and Stone Harbor on March 12. Red-throated Loons congregate each spring at the mouth of the Delaware Bay and can often be enjoyed from the Concrete Ship. CMBO's "Birding From the Ferry" on Wednesday, March 19 (7:30 to 11:30 a.m.) still has room and is scheduled to offer excellent looks at N. Gannets, loons, scoters, and more. CMBO's very special and popular "Cruisin for Loons" trip will be offered on Saturday, April 26 (12:30 to 5 p.m.), when both Red-throated Loons and Common Loons (some in full breeding plumage) can both be enjoyed. Sign up for each of these early (spaces are limited) by calling 609-861-0700, x-11.

The 100th Birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge system is being celebrated at the Cape May NWR on Friday, March 14th at 3 p.m. at the headquarters on Kimbel's Beach Road. A time capsule will be buried. All are welcome!

Additional regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration and will help you witness spring unfolding include: "Birding Cape May Point" (Every Saturday, 8-10 a.m. -- meets in the raised picnic pavilion of the Cape May Point State Park), "Turkey Point Bird Walk" (Every Sunday, 8-10 a.m. -- meets at the end of Turkey Point Road in Cumberland County), "Two Mile Beach Bird Walk" (Monday, March 17, 8-10 a.m. -- meets in the last /left parking area in the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR), and "Birding for First Timers" (Every Thursday, 1-3 p.m. -- meets at the CMBO Northwood Center in Cape May Point).

Daffodils leaves are up about 6 inches. Crocuses are beginning to bloom. We are all thinking spring and looking forward to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other visitors to our gardens. If you would like to make your yard wildlife friendly and don't know where to begin or would like to learn more, be sure to sign up for CMBO's "Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat Introductory Workshop" on Saturday, March 29 (1:30 to 3:30 p.m.). Valuable handouts will shared!

Be sure not to miss CMBO's "Annual Optics Sale" on Saturday & Sunday, March 22 and 23 where, as usual, many spectacular deals on quality binoculars, telescopes, and tripods will be available. You must be a member of NJ Audubon or CMBO to take advantage of these great deals, so join today if you are not already a member.

CMBO's full listing of spring programs (April - June) is posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site at http://www.njaudubon.org (click on "Calendar," then on "Cape May Bird Observatory"). CMBO's spring program schedule, the Kestrel Express, is on its way to CMBO members now. If you are not a member and would like to receive a copy, stop by either CMBO Center or call 609-861-0700.

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 Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, updated every Thursday evening.

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. Both are open DAILY, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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