Cape May Natural History Hotline - 3/8/2002
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, March 8. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience). Both hotlines can be viewed on NJ Audubon's web site (http://www.njaudubon.org) by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page. Now on with the hotline!

There are 34 pairs of breeding BALD EAGLES in New Jersey right now, including four new nest sites. Bald Eagles are the second earliest nesting bird, right after Great Horned Owls. On February 3rd the first pair began incubating eggs; their young could hatch as soon as March 10. Since then many more pairs have begun incubating eggs. Adults at the Stow Creek Bald Eagle nest, in northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County, began incubating February 23 (young should hatch 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's rich marshes attract one of the largest concentrations of wintering Bald Eagles in the state and hosts two nesting pairs. The boat sails right by one of these nests, and the adults at this nest began incubating eggs on February 12 (with young due to hatch March 19). So we can dare to promise Bald Eagles on these trips; last year's trips enjoyed numerous looks at eagles. Expect to also see Osprey (newly returned), Belted Kingfisher nesting burrows, and more! Trip details: Saturday, March 23 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. STILL HAS ROOM); Saturday, March 23 (1-3:30 p.m. IS FULL); Sunday, March 24 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. STILL HAS ROOM); Saturday, March 30 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. A FEW PLACES STILL); April 6 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. IS FULL); April 6 (1-3:30 p.m.: ALMOST FULL); Sunday, April 7 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: STILL HAS ROOM). Pick the date that suits you and join us! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

The SCOTERS are still staging at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. A "huge" flight was witnessed from the Concrete Ship on March 2, along with a good N. GANNET flight. Also be looking for RED-THROATED LOONS, known to stage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. 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 March 5 found a continued increase in northbound waterfowl (GREEN-WINGED TEAL & N. PINTAIL).

On the owl front, A LONG-EARED OWL was seen in Cape May Point on March 6. A migrant? Or maybe a wintering bird. We have just learned that a SNOWY OWL spent the winter in Wildwood Crest at the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR. This is no surprise with Snowy Owl sightings off and on through the winter in Cape May, the Wildwoods, Stone Harbor, and Avalon. Sadly, a dead Snowy Owl was found in N. Wildwood on February 27, perhaps the same bird according the U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff who saw both birds. A SCREECH OWL in a nest box on private property was discovered March 5th and its habits have been studied and enjoyed nightly since. It comes to the entrance hole about 5:45 P.M. and leans way out looking this way and that way at feeding songbirds. At 6:30 P.M. when it is nearly full dark, the bird leaves the box and begins to hunt. GREAT HORNED OWLS have become a bit more vocal lately, perhaps a sign that their young have hatched. They are our earliest nesting bird and laid their eggs at the end of January or in early February, when they promptly got very quiet. 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 nest that is visible from the viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road. Be sure to keep CMBO posted if and when you see young. It will be fun to see how many this nest produces.

Spring like weather returned March 7 & 8 (it was 64 degrees on the 7th & is expected to go much higher today) and with it butterflies and calling frogs. The first MOURNING CLOAK since February 26 was seen March 7. Also March 7 the first WOOD FROGS were heard, our earliest calling frog. Their calls sound like ducks quacking. Many were calling from the wet woods and impoundment at Beaver Swamp WMA (just north of CMBO's center in Goshen). RED MAPLES are blooming. Late winter / early spring butterflies and moths are dependent on these blooms, some of the only nectar available. DAFFODILS have begun to bloom. Male and female RED CEDAR trees can easily be told apart right now, since the male trees have a distinct brownish cast as the tiny cones grow at the tip of every stem. Pairs of KILLDEER were heard all over Cape May County this week as they flew around and around calling. WOODPECKERS are drumming near their potential nest hole. MOURNING DOVES are cooing and CARDINALS are singing their repetitious "cheer-cheer-cheer."

Where are RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS now? The following wonderful web site maps arrival dates & locations: http://www.hummingbirds.net As of March 6 and 7, sightings continued to build all over Florida, and were also coming in from coastal Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Where are PURPLE MARTINS now? The Purple Martin Conservation Association's web site maps their movement north in their "Scout Arrival Study": http://www.purplemartin.org In February and early March they were being seen all over North Carolina. On March 4, a sighting had come in from as far north as Pasadena, Maryland (between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore).

A catastrophic storm January 12-16, 2002, in Mexico killed about 80% of the over wintering MONARCHS at two of the roost sites. Estimates from Lincoln Brower and colleagues were released this week, sharing that up to 200-272 million Monarchs were killed during this storm. This opens everyone's eyes to just how many over wintering Monarchs were at these two sites: 250-342 million! WOW! On a bright note, information has come in that a third roost site (with @ 200 million Monarchs this winter) was not affected by this storm. This information has come from Monarch Watch's Dplex-L Email Discussion List (go to: http://www.MonarchWatch.org/dplex) and Journey North's site (see below). Every single MONARCH sighting this spring will be significant and Journey North is also looking for information about milkweed availability, when it first pokes through the ground. Wildlife friendly gardens and meadows with milkweed (that has been spared the mower) will be crucial to the 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 remaining workshops on "Gardening for Wildlife." For more details go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html Or see blurb further along in this hotline.

Where are MONARCHS now? Journey North's web site details the northbound migration of many species, including Monarchs. Right now they are still at the winter roosts in Mexico, but this site will be fascinating to monitor this spring: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/spring2002/species/index.html

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration, and many special field trips and programs that do. Highlights of upcoming trips & programs are below, but for a complete listing 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 New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calspec.html

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" 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 in the 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 BITTERN, 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 all 3 MERGANSERS. 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 CREEPER, FOX SPARROW, E. MEADOWLARK, and more are all possible.

HIGHLIGHTS OF UPCOMING PROGRAMS (in addition to those already detailed above) follow:

"BALD EAGLE CRUISES ON THE MAURICE RIVER" -- trips detailed above!

Two remaining "GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE WORKSHOPS" in the series still have room: (1) Saturday, March 9: "How to Create a Wildflower Meadow & a Pond for Wildlife." (2) Saturday, March 16: "How to Maintain Your Wildlife Habitat," covering 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 runs from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and will be taught by Pat Sutton and Karen Williams. Each workshop will include a question and answer session regarding each landowner's particular situation. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

Join Mark Garland Saturday, March 16, for BIRDING FOR BEGINNERS (1:00 to 3:00 p.m.), a slow-paced field trip which will visit one or more natural areas on Cape Island. 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 recent 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 nonmember).

A program on the "GALAPAGOS ISLANDS" will be offered by Clay & Pat Sutton on Saturday, March 16, at 3 p.m. at CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen. A trip in 2001 will 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 come to CMBO's Center for Research & Education in Goshen. Call 609-861-0700 for more details.

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 made on Thursday evenings. 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 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) pat_sutton@njaudubon.org

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