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 Saturday, May 25. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to
609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
The Memorial Day holiday weekend corresponds this year with the expected
peak of egg-laying for horseshoe crabs along the Delaware Bay shoreline.
Full moon occurs on Sunday, May 26, and typically the most extreme tides
of late May, which come with either a full or new moon, trigger the
horseshoe crabs into activity. Visit any of the Delaware Bay sites,
such as Reeds Beach, Cooks Beach, or Norbury?s Landing, to see horseshoe
crabs and large numbers of shorebirds and gulls feeding on their eggs.
The shorebirds most frequently seen feeding on horseshoe crab eggs are
Sanderlings, Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and
Dunlin, but many other species will also feed on this abundant food
resource. Even Boat-tailed Grackles and Song Sparrows have been seen
feeding on horseshoe crab eggs at Reeds Beach this week. CMBO offers
its ?Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs Galore? program on Saturday, May 25
from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and its ?A Close Look at Shorebirds?
program on Sunday, May 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Both of these
programs require advanced registration: call (609) 861-0700 for more
information or to register.
It is impossible to predict what the ?typical? peak dates will bring
this year. Horseshoe crab mating activity began much earlier than most
years, on April 16, when thousands of Horseshoe Crabs came ashore to
mate & lay their eggs along the Delaware Bay beaches. The next day
hundreds were found on the beach at Fortescue in Cumberland County &
thousands at Highs Beach in Cape May County.
Note that the New Jersey Audubon Society is sponsoring a letter-writing
campaign in an effort to increase the protection for horseshoe crabs.
To learn more about this critical conservation issue visit either of the
CMBO centers or check the New Jersey Audubon Society web site at
The noses of many diamondback terrapins were seen from the Delaware Bay
waters just offshore from some of the horseshoe crab beaches. Do
terrapins feed on these eggs too? Let us know if you have the answer!
Nummy's Island continues to harbor many shorebirds, including Whimbrel,
Red Knot, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, and Short-billed Dowitcher. The
birds are easiest to see at this site at high tide.
Butterfly numbers and diversity are climbing rapidly now. Fourteen
species were seen at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management area on
Thursday?s ?Birds, Butterflies, and their Habitat? program. This
program will be offered each Thursday afternoon from 1 ? 3 p.m. though
June 20. No advanced registration is required. Species being seen this
week included Spicebush swallowtail, zabulon skipper, least skipper, and
scalloped sootywing. Two species that aren?t usually seen in
significant numbers this early in the season, the sachem and the common
buckeye, are both being frequently seen already this year. Last
winter?s mild weather probably allowed many immatures of these two
species to successfully overwinter much further north than is typical.
Dragonflies are also becoming quite active now. CMBO sponsors a
Dragonfly Workshop and Walk on Saturday, June 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00
p.m. Call (609) 861-0700 to register. Butterflies and Dragonflies are
both subjects of Pat Sutton?s Wednesday walks at Jakes Landing Road from
10:00 a.m. to noon. The last of this spring?s series of these walks
will be held on Wednesday, May 29.
The SWAINSON'S WARBLER, discovered May 1 during CMBO'S "Birding by Ear
Walk" continues at Jakes Landing Road in the Mountain Laurel thicket
just before the first pine stand on the left. The bird frequents both
sides of the road & his distinctive song helps one know where to look.
Please DO NOT use tapes on the Swainson's Warbler -- tapes are
inappropriate, since their use may drive the bird away and make it
unavailable to other birders. The bird has been and can be heard easily
without tapes and with a little patience. Your best chance of seeing
the bird comes from sitting or standing quietly along the road edge near
the location where the bird is heard singing. It periodically comes to
the road edge, but if there are people moving around it invariably heads
way back off the road. If people are very still and quiet, it often
will stop right along the road side for a few seconds, where its drab
plumage may be enjoyed. Join Pat Sutton on the ?Birding By Ear? field
trip that discovered this bird next Wednesday, May 29, at the end of
Jakes Landing Road. No advanced registration is required.
Songbird migration is winding down, though migrant birds continue to be
found. Some of the species still being include Mourning Warbler,
Blackpoll Warbler, Wilson?s Warbler, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Bobolink.
Check our birding hotline at (609) 898-BIRD for more details.
Many of the breeding birds are on territory or building nests or already
feeding young. CMBO's many walks and field trips are in experiencing
the waning spring as it gives way to the fecundity of summer. Join any
of our weekly walks to experience this transitional time of year.
CMBO's "Birds of Higbee Beach," is offered every Friday through May 31
from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting at Higbee Beach WMA parking lot at the west
end of New England Road.
CMBO's "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm walk," is offered EVERY Saturday
through June 8 from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting in the "The Beanery / Rea
Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road.
Our naturalists will be leading a Sunday morning walk at Stone Harbor
Point from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. each week from June 2 through June 23.
This walk is also offered on Tuesday evenings through June 11, beginning
at 6:00 p.m. Meet at the parking area at the south end of 2nd Ave. in
The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (also known as
the South Cape May Meadows) is always a hotspot. Join Pete Dunne or
CMBO Associate Naturalists when Pete is traveling (which will be all
June this year) every Monday through June 24 for CMBO's "Birding with
Pete Dunne walk," from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting at The Nature
Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard.
CMBO perennial favorite, ?Birding Cape May Point,? is offered every
Wednesday morning from 7:30 ? 9:30 a.m. through June 26. Meet at the
raised picnic pavilion in Cape May Point State Park.
Another popular program, ?Sunset Birding at the Meadows,? returns on
June 7 and will be offered every Friday evening in June from 6:30 p.m.
until sunset. Meet at The Nature Conservancy refuge parking area along
Every Thursday in June, from 10:00 a.m. until noon, Karen Williams,
gardener extraordinaire, will lead a weekly tour through the
wildlife-friendly Backyard Habitat Gardens at the CMBO Center for
Research and Education in Goshen. Like all of the weekly walks listed
above, the price is $6 for members and $10 for nonmembers and advanced
registration is not required nor accepted. For a free tour of the
garden, join Karen any Friday morning from 9:30 a.m. to noon. You?ll
get a close-up look at the garden these days ? this is our ?garden
maintenance workshop,? and participants help tend the gardens while
learning about how they work. Roll up your sleeves, bring your
clippers, and join the work party any Friday morning all summer long.
BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, have nearly full grown
young right now! In New Jersey, 23 pairs are busy with young. One of
the most easily viewed nests in the state is at Stow Creek, in
northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County. This pair
began incubating February 23 and their young hatched on April 4. Be
sure to visit this nest now through June when the young begin to test
their wings. A viewing platform on Route 623, just north of Stow Creek,
offers an excellent view.
CMBO's center in Goshen has E. Bluebirds on eggs (behind the building),
Tree Swallows building a nest (to the left of the building), Barn
Swallows building a nest (over the plant sale area), Purple Martins in
the gourds behind the building, and lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird
activity at the feeders, the blooming Coral Honeysuckle, Coral Bells,
and Wild Columbine in the gardens! Males have been seen displaying
(doing the "pendulum swing") over females at CMBO and elsewhere this
Hopefully your hummingbird feeders are hung, since breeders are already
back & males have been vigorously defending territories for some time.
Our gardens are not in bloom yet, so feeders are the key now in early
spring if you hope to attract nesting hummingbirds. Stop by CMBO to see
our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout
on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance -- be sure to clean
your feeders out thoroughly at least once each week, even if they are
still full. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. If
you are new to gardening for hummingbirds & butterflies, be sure to read
"How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," by Pat Sutton, posted
on NJ Audubon's web site at:
If you are new to gardening for wildlife in general, be sure to read
Karen Williams excellent article "A Dozen ?Must Have' Plants for
Backyard Habitats" by going to NJ Audubon's web site at:
Check Garden Fennel and Bronze Fennel in your gardens now for fresh
Black Swallowtail eggs. CMBO's gardens in Goshen have many eggs now.
Red Admirals came through earlier and laid on patches of Stinging Nettle
... their growing caterpillars are now hiding in webbed together leaves.
On the flower front, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) has burst into
bloom throughout the woodlands of Cape May County. Enjoy this show
along many of the quiet roads through Belleplain State Forest. Black
Locust trees are still in bloom, and American Holly tree flowers are
about to open up. When they do, treat yourself to their delicious
smelling blooms, all too often overlooked. Tulip Trees are beginning to
bloom and already drawing in numbers of bees, wasps, and orioles.
CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) has WILDLIFE GARDEN PLANTS
FOR SALE now through October, EVERY DAY (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), including
many trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials that are hard to find
elsewhere. Stop by to see the selection, which changes weekly. A few
of this week's sale items include: COMMON MILKWEED (Monarchs need for
egg-laying!!!), CORAL BELLS (hummers), ANISE HYSSOP, NEW ENGLAND ASTER,
NEW YORK IRONWEED, BOLTONIA, CARDINAL FLOWER & WILD COLUMBINE (hummers),
HOPS (Question Marks lay their eggs on this), CATMINT, STINGING NETTLE
(Red Admirals lay their eggs on this), GARDEN PHLOX, EASTERN RED CEDAR
(30+ birds feed on the berries and Juniper Hairstreaks lay their eggs on
this), various VIBURNUMS, SOUR GUM, BLACK CHOKEBERRY, and SHADBUSH. If
you'd like to be e-mailed as wildlife garden plants "for sale" are
delivered to CMBO, send CMBO (600 Route 47 North, CMCH, NJ 08210) your
e-mail address and ask to be added to this outgoing e-mail message list.
TICKS are out in force. Explore with caution & be sure to do a thorough
tick check of your person and your clothing after outings in South
Jersey. CMBO's two bookstores carry excellent books on ticks and Lyme
Disease. If you enjoy the outdoors, it is wise to be as educated as
CMBO's SPRING PROGRAMS "in full" (April through June 2002) are posted on
New Jersey Audubon's web site:
These programs include 13 different weekly walks for birds, butterflies
and gardens ("hitting" each of the spring hotspots) that require no
preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon
member; $10 nonmember). Many specially arranged preregistration
programs are also offered, including "Horseshoe Crabs Up Close" on May
20, "A Close Look at Shorebirds" on May 22 (and again on May 26),
"Shorebirds & Horseshoe Crabs Galore" on May 23 (also offered on May 24
& 25), a "Dragonfly Workshop & Walk" on June 8, "Introduction to
Wildflower ID" on June 15, "Cruisin' For Chicks at Sunset" on June 22
(when marshes rich in nesting birds are in full bloom: nest full of
young terns, Laughing Gulls, American Oystercatchers, Ospreys, Clapper
Rails, and more), and much, much more! To receive a copy of the spring
schedule 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 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)