Friday, July 20, 2018

MOTH NIGHT AT NORTHWOOD - July 24 - 8:30-10 PM

All are invited to this exciting and FREE event at the Cape May Bird Observatory's Northwood Center in Cape May Point (located at 701 East Lake Dr.) during the evening of Tuesday, July 24 - 8:30 PM. We'll have a full setup of mercury light, blacklight, and moth nectar to attract a wide range of species to the moth sheet - from beautiful to strange. Come on out and share in the fun - who knows what we'll find!!!

NOTE: the moth event to be held at the Nature Center of Cape May on Wednesday, July 25th has been cancelled.

Io Moth - © Mike Crew

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Summer is here - and so are the butterflies and dragonflies! Join Brian Johnson on these Special Field Trips and spend a morning exploring some lesser-known habitats of southern New Jersey in search of these beautiful residents (meets at the Center for Research and Education in Goshen). We'll concentrate on the variety and many colors of butterflies, with some flashy dragonflies and damselflies thrown in for good measure - enjoying and learning about the Jewels of Summer. Preregistration required. $15 members, $20 nonmembers.

Tuesdays - July 10, August 14
9:00 AM - 12 PM

Register now at CMBO Programs

Question Mark - © Mike Crewe

Scarlet Bluet - © Brian Johnson

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Help us Help Shorebirds and Rescue Horseshoe Crabs - ReTURN the Favor

Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds need your help!!! New Jersey Audubon is once again taking part in the ReTURN the Favor partnership to rescue overturned and obstructed Horseshoe Crabs along the Delaware Bay, and in doing so, help the migrating shorebirds that rely on the crab eggs to successfully reach their breeding destinations in the Arctic. The beaches along the bayshore are critically important in the continuation of this natural phenomenon and ensuring that Horseshoe Crabs continue in adequate numbers. To that end, CMBO is coordinating the efforts for two beaches - Cook's and Highs. We will have two public walks that you can take part in:

Saturday, June 9 - 9:00-11:00 AM
Thursday, June 14 - 1:00-3:00 PM

These walks will meet at CMBO's Center for Research and Education on RT. 47 (mile marker 15.8) in Goshen. The two-hour program includes a brief training talk, travel to one of the two nearby beaches, and the rescue walk. No preregistration required - come prepared in comfortable clothes for wet, cool, or hot weather, footwear you don't mind getting wet, water to re-hydrate, and sun and bug protection.

In addition to these public walks, we encourage you to register to go out on your own to rescue Horseshoe Crabs on these beaches. After a short training session and receiving the proper permit, you can sign up to cover these beaches and save even more Horseshoe Crabs!!!!!! Please contact Program Director Brett Ewald at to take part!!

See for more information about ReTURN the Favor and other public walk dates.

Hope you'll join us!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

World Series of Birding - CMBO Century Run 2018 Team Report

By Todd Klein

The World Series of Birding is an annual competition and fund-raiser for nature and environmental organizations in which teams try to see or hear as many bird species as possible inside a 24 hour period (midnight to midnight) and inside the state of New Jersey. It’s held on a Saturday in the first half of May, the 12th this year. It was begun in 1984 by Pete Dunne and others, and the first year there were thirteen teams. This year there were 73 teams and hundreds of participants. Since its inception, the event has raised more than ten million dollars for the organizations involved. Our team, the Cape May Bird Observatory Century Run began in 1987. My first year was 1988, and though I’ve missed a few years, I’ve participated about 25 times. The event is a mixture of exciting (when you find good things), frustrating (when you don’t), a cool nature adventure, an exhausting experience, and usually lots of fun. Every year a core group of fans, friends and supporters help me contribute to the cause of the Cape May Bird Observatory’s mission of conservation, education and preservation, and I’m glad they were there for me again this year.

Early start at the Meadows  © Todd Klein
Our 2018 team had 24 participants, including the team leader Brett Ewald, team planners and birding experts Roger and Kathy Horn, photographer and binocular specialist Clay Taylor from Swarovski Optik, and team planner Patti Domm. Many participants on this team return year after year. The top Level 1 teams are usually much smaller, 3 or 4 people, and some cover the entire state of New Jersey, or, like us, one particular county or area There are also Senior and Youth team categories as well as Carbon Footprint teams who travel only on foot or by bike, all competing for awards as well as raising money. Our Level 2 team does not compete for awards, but we do raise lots of money for important conservation work by New Jersey Audubon (over $7,000 this year), and we have a great time doing it. We birded from about 4:45 AM to about 9 PM this year, not as long a day as the 24-hour teams, but quite long enough! And our day tends to be more relaxed than the level-one teams. We keep up a steady pace, but also take the time to get good looks at some of the best and most interesting birds. That’s our team bus, above, at our starting point at the Cape May Meadows parking lot. As thunder and lightning flashed and rumbled in the distance, we got our first few species by call here before heading to our first stop, the Cape May Airport. There we added two more difficult species by call, Horned Lark and Chuck-Will’s-Widow as a light shower began.

As dawn broke, and the shower passed, we were at our next stop, a walk at Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area that added more good birds like Green Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Waterthrush and Northern Flicker. While we were there, a fire siren went off in the neighborhood, and this prompted a local Barred Owl to start calling! Apparently this often happens, though I’d never experienced it, and adding Barred Owl to our species list was a treat. Owls rarely call during the day, and we often don’t get any for our list. We left this birding spot at 7 AM with 57 species.

Seawatching at Norbury's Landing  ©Todd Klein
Our next stop was Norbury’s Landing on the Delaware Bayshore a little north of Cox Hall Creek. Here we added gulls and shorebirds like Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knot to our list, as well as a difficult-to-find Bonaparte’s Gull, and two Bald Eagles, We finished here around 7:45 AM with 77 species on our list. The weather was gradually clearing.

Another Delaware Bayshore stop further north at Reed’s Beach added species like Snowy Egret and Least Tern, but the best bird of the stop was a Glaucous Gull found by Clay Taylor using his scope. This nearly all-white gull is rare here, and is not on the official checklist, so it was a write-in! Those are always a thrill to add to our list.

Around 9 AM we stopped at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education (CRE for short) to use the bathrooms, and pick up a few more species like Orchard Oriole and the often elusive Cedar Waxwing. We also added Ruby-throated Hummingbird, coming to the feeders there.

Jake's Landing  © Todd Klein

Our next stop was Jake’s Landing, which overlooks wide expanses of wetlands draining into Delaware Bay. It was a full sun morning now, and remained so for much of the day with light winds and increasing temperatures into the upper 70s by mid-afternoon. In all, a very pleasant birding day.

Willet  © Roger Horn
Here we added species like Willet (above), Clapper Rail, Marsh Wren and Seaside Sparrow.

Belleplain State Forest  © Todd Klein
By about 10 AM we were in Belleplain State Forest, the area not far from where I live that I’d been scouting for the past 10 days. We began on Narrows Road, but not much was calling there, so moved on to the bridge on Sunset Road, above.

Worm-eating Warbler  © Roger Horn
Here we added key breeding bird species like Acadian Flycatcher, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Wood Thrush, and warblers: Hooded, Worm-eating (above), Yellow-throated and Prothonotary. By 10:10 we’d reached our nominal Century Run goal of 100 species about an hour earlier than usual! This was cause for celebration, but we all knew that after the first 100, it gets much harder. In other parts of Belleplain we added Eastern Phoebe, White-breasted Nuthatch, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Bluebird and more. We found most of the birds that breed here except for Summer Tanager, which I’d had several of the day before, but none turned up for us. That tends to happen every year with a few species. One final stop in Woodbine, near Belleplain, added Eastern Meadowlark, then we headed south toward Cape May Point again around 12:15 PM with 115 species.

Tree Swallow  © Roger Horn
We arrived at the Cape May Point State Park around 12:45 for our lunch break, which we took at one of the picnic pavilions overlooking Lighthouse Pond. There team leader Brett found a Broad-winged Hawk circling overhead with some vultures. After eating, we went up to the dune to view the ocean where it meets Delaware Bay. Here a difficult-to-find Parasitic Jaeger was added to our list, as well as a few more species.

Bob's Woods  © Todd Klein
Our next stop was a nearby place I’d never visited at the northwest corner of the Cape May Point State Park. Called Bob’s Woods, the State Park granted special access to this normally off-limits area - a patch of woods that was full of birds, including about a dozen warbler species. It reminded me very much of how birding used to be decades ago at Higbee Beach a few miles north, but seldom is there today. We added many migrating warblers to our list that we’ve often missed in recent years, including Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Blackburnian and Blackpoll, but the star attraction here was a Swainson’s Warbler that had been calling regularly for the past two weeks. This is a species that’s usually found further south, but one has been showing up here every year or two for a while now. They are secretive and very hard to see, but fortunately have a distinctive call, which allowed us to count it. To me, the call sounds like “Come on and get your PIZZA HERE!” (Okay, I like pizza.) I first learned it in South Carolina, and have heard one calling in the Cape May area before, but not for many years. This was another write-in bird, two in one year! Pretty cool.

About 3 PM we did some birding outside the Northwood Center of the Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point. I’ve volunteered here for many years. We added a hard-to-find Black-billed Cuckoo. We were running a bit behind schedule, so we soon moved on.

TNC's South Cape May Meadows  © Todd Klein
Probably our longest walk of the day was on the loop trail at the Cape May Meadows from 3:15 to 4 PM. This had been one of our best spots last year, but was not as productive this year. We did add Gadwall and a few other species. A Mississippi Kite had been reported just north of us, but we didn’t see it. It was time to drive north again, where a stop at Shell Bay Landing just off the Garden State Parkway, added Whimbrel to our list. Next was Nummy Island where we found Tricolored Heron, Black-bellied Plover and Common Loon. I was pretty tired at this point and neglecting to take group photos, sorry. We left the Meadows with 133 species, just two short of our estimated goal of 135, and four short of last year’s total of 137. We had high hopes of more, but they were getting ever harder to find.

At Stone Harbor Point we found one of the few remaining Piping Plovers in our area. This species is endangered in New Jersey mainly because it nests on beaches where people also like to be.

Purple Sandpipers  © Roger Horn
Another bird we added here was Purple Sandpiper, which has usually migrated north by now. We left this area around 6 PM with a great total of 143 species!

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  © Todd Klein
We found one more in Avalon, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, seen here in a photo I took last year, possibly the same bird. This is a species that is rare and hard to see unless you know their daytime roosting spots, which we do.

We then stopped at the Wetlands Institute on Stone Harbor Boulevard where we had great looks at many of the shorebirds we’d struggled to see earlier in the day, as well as a family of young foxes playing nearby, but unfortunately did not find anything new for our list. Weather predictions were coming in of a massive line of thunderstorms approaching from the west, and there was a tornado warning. We headed back toward Belleplain State Forest after a stop at Wawa for snacks and bathrooms, and by the time we got there it was fully dark, and the western sky was full of thunder and lightning. We made two attempts to hear Whip-poor-will, a night-calling bird common there that’s often the last one we add to our list, but they were silent this time, perhaps as spooked by the weather as we were. We decided to call it a day and headed back to Cape May Point. On the way, as rain showers began, Roger Horn submitted our official list of 144 species online, as is now the method, seven more than last year!. By the time we got back to our cars, the storm was upon us, with torrential rain, lightning and thunder. Just getting the 20 feet from the bus to my car got me pretty wet.

I had planned to go to the Finish Line at the Grand Hotel, where there would be food and good company, and where we’d see other teams coming in as well, but by the time I drove over there, the rain was, if anything, coming down even harder, and there was nowhere near the hotel to park, so I decided to just head home instead. Even with having to drive much slower than usual, I arrived home earlier than I often do at about 10:15 PM.

Thanks again to all my pledgers and supporters for helping me raise funds for nature, and to the team’s excellent leaders and great participants. It was a fine group to be part of, everyone was friendly, polite and helpful, and we had a blast.

I’ll probably be doing and reporting on this again next year! Thanks for reading.

Captain's Note - Thanks to Todd for taking the time to write this summary of a wonderful day, the team members that make it happen, Clay Taylor and Swarovski Optik for gear, equipment and camaraderie, and all the support, both financial and logistical, that make this such a great event for Conservation!

Friday, May 11, 2018

APPALACHIAN BIRDING BY EAR with Michael Lanzone - May 25 & 26

With its many forested ridges, hemlock glens, marshes, streams, bogs and grasslands, one of the premier places to hear a diversity of bird songs in a concentrated area is the ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania. With over 25 species of breeding warblers, you will not want to miss this special, out-of-the-area trip! (meets in Shippensburg, PA). We will plan to begin early for dawn chorus, have lunch in the field, and end by late afternoon each day. This workshop is entirely in the field and, yes, we will also get crushing looks birds like Canada, Cerulean, Blackburnian, Hooded, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, and MANY more, over 100 other species to be heard or seen. Some of the areas have so many warblers singing and visible you will think you’re at a fallout during migration, but all breeding plumaged birds! We will work on improving your birding by ear skills and also have plenty of time to get great looks and do some photography for those interested. Join Michael Lanzone, CEO of Cellular Tracking Technologies, on this incredible Cape May School of Birding Workshop!!! 

Register now at: Cape May School of Birding

Thursday, May 10, 2018


It's the time of year when the fascinating Horseshoe Crabs arrive on the beaches of Delaware Bay to lay their eggs - a much needed feast for migrating shorebirds, some of which are traveling thousands of miles to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. This special phenomenon is one you won't want to miss, as Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Willets, Laughing Gulls and more create a constantly moving mass of color and sound - truly a memorable birding experience!!! We'll visit a couple protected beaches to make the most of our viewing time.

These two Special Field Trips are timed to capture this event, so sign up for one or both at: CMBO Programs.

Monday, May 14 - 1:00-4:30 PM
Wednesday, May 23 - 1:00-4:30 PM
$15 members, $20 nonmembers

Saturday, May 5, 2018

May Means Migration!!!

The warmer temps and southerly breezes have been blowing birds to Cape May - warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, bunting, sparrows, hawks, kites, shorebirds, herons, egrets, ibis, and more! This coming week presents an amazing opportunity to enjoy this spectacle, and learn from the best.

There are only a couple more days to sign up for the Warblers By Sight & Sound workshop, led by Scott Whittle - an immersion into this wonderfully diverse and colorful group of birds: May 14 & 15.

Or take it all in with Pete Dunne on the Shorebirds and Southern Breeders workshop and experience what Cape May County has to offer - from New Jersey Audubon's Birding Ambassador: May 16 & 17.

You can find more details and register at Cape May School of Birding - professionally led workshops in the Birding Capital of North America!

Join us for an amazing birding experience!

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Monday & Tuesday, May 14 - 15.

Few families of birds are so colorful, vocal and animate as the North American warblers and no spring is complete without a trip seeking warbler waves. Here’s your trip, timed to catch the peak of the wave of northern species like Blackburnian, Blackpoll and Canada, while also engaging southern breeders like Hooded, Yellow-throated and Prothonotary. This workshop aims to help you pick up on both audio and visual clues to be able to quickly and accurately locate these springtime gems. Join Scott Whittle, co-author of The Warbler Guide, Warbler Guide App, and the new BirdGenie song identification app, on this fantastic Cape May School of Birding workshop. $150 members, $200 nonmembers. 

Reserve your spot now!!! - Cape May School of Birding

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


There are just a couple spaces remaining on the NJA Eco-Travel tour to the birding hotspot of Monhegan Island, Maine - September 14-19, 2018.

Get ready to leave the noise and bustle of everyday life behind as we venture to this picturesque and serene island off the coast of Maine! Its remote location 12 miles offshore and diverse habitats help to make Monhegan one of the top migrant “traps” on the East Coast. Our time will be filled observing some of the incredible array of birds that reside on or visit this island, such as flycatchers, thrushes, vireos, warblers (over 20 species possible), sparrows, finches, and blackbirds.

We will scan the ocean waves for waterfowl, alcids, shearwaters, jaegers, and other seabirds, while raptors pass by in their search for prey on the island. The list of possibilities reads like a checklist, and we’ll search for species such as Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Black Guillemot, Manx Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Black-legged Kittiwake, Parasitic Jaeger, Red-necked Phalarope, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Philadelphia Vireo, Connecticut Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Clay-colored Sparrow, and many more!! Regularly sighted vagrants include Western Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, and more. Monhegan has also hosted a stunning list of rarities, topped by the likes of Magnificent Frigatebird, Bridled Tern, Swallow-tailed Kite, Say’s Phoebe, White-winged Dove, Northern Wheatear, Lazuli Bunting, and Lark Bunting!

We will be leaving our vehicles on the mainland and soaking it all in while covering some of the many trails on this small and peaceful island (only 1.7 miles long and .5 miles wide), which includes a fresh water ice pond, nine acre meadow, and the tallest cliffs on the eastern seaboard (180’). Wonderful birding, breathtaking scenery, and an enchanting atmosphere – Monhegan has it all!

Reserve your space now or get more details at: NJA Eco-Travel

You can also contact the tour leader directly, Brett Ewald - CMBO's Program Director, at

Hope you'll join us for a memorable trip!

Seawatching at Whitehead
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black Guillemot
Northern Gannet
View from the Lighthouse


Harbor at Sunset

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Everyone’s dreamed of learning bird songs, and everyone can. Even experienced birders spend time each spring “getting their ear in,” re-learning the songs they already know. Jump-start your audio-recall by learning how to listen critically, group and categorize song types, and (as your song and call repertoire grow) gain confidence and skill. Many of southern New Jersey’s breeding birds are back and singing heartily, while migrants will be joining the chorus, too. Join Michael O'Brien on this exciting Cape May School of Birding Workshop and make the most of appreciating the beauty of bird song!

Monday - Tuesday, May 7 & 8
7:00 AM - 4:00 PM
$150 members, $200 nonmembers

Reserve your spot now at: Cape May School of Birding

Friday, April 6, 2018

Back-to-back Birding Bonanza!!!!! BIRDING WITH A PURPOSE with Tom Johnson & LEARNING TO HEAR BIRD SOUND with Scott Whittle

These two exciting workshops are new offerings by the Cape May School of Birding - sure to please and educate at the same time - and run in succession, so consider taking both and double your fun!!

with Tom Johnson

This NEW workshop will emphasize how to document unusual sightings, and underscore that birders usually carry something with them that can record sound.  Join Tom Johnson and go through the steps explaining how to use your smart phone (or sound recorder, if you have one) to make serviceable recordings and then add them to eBird checklists as documentation. An additional segment will focus on documentation photos and how to add them to eBird. This workshop will involve spending half your time in the field collecting photos and audio, and the other half in a classroom setting learning to edit and upload.  

Sunday, April 22
7:30 AM - 12:00 PM
$48 members, $64 nonmembers

with Scott Whittle

Spring is alive with birdsong, but how can we understand what they're saying?  Scott Whittle is the co-author of the Warbler Guide, Warbler Guide App, and the new BirdGenie song identification app, and will help you decode the sounds you hear and turn them into identifications.  He uses a unique structural, objective approach to listening, so instead of trying to listen for subtle quality differences or fuzzy descriptions, he'll be teaching the four basic questions you can ask about a song, and the simple things you can do to separate it from any other song.  Come listen with us and open up a whole new dimension to your understanding and enjoyment of the natural world.  

Monday, April 23 & Tuesday, April 24
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
$150 members, $200 nonmembers

Register now for either/both programs at: Cape M:ay School of Birding

Northern Gannets Galore!!!

There has been an enormous number of Northern Gannets massing and migrating past Cape May Point and other areas of southern New Jersey the past several days - following the coastline and feeding in the near-shore waters. These large seabirds (3' tall, 6' wingspan, and weighing over 6 lbs.) are beautiful flyers, and making their way north to breeding colonies on cliffs in northern maritime Canada. They have been passing very close to shore by the thousands, sometimes right over the jetties, presenting an opportunity to study their various plumages, as they mature from immature (gray-brown in coloration) to adult (white with black wingtips) over four years. This short video was taken early this morning (Apr. 6) in North Wildwood, as over 8,500 passed by in one hour - over 10,000 passed by before 10:00 AM. Gannets have been reported in large numbers from the southern Delaware Bayshore to Sea Isle - a great place to witness the spectacle is at the Coral Ave. dune crossing in Cape May Point, where the Springwatch is underway every day, starting at sunrise and continuing for at least 3 hours. Stop by and join in the fun, or follow the counts at! Truly a remarkable sight to see!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

PREDICTIVE BIRDING 101 with Tom Reed - April 14 & 15

It may seem like magic that certain birders always seem to be at the right place at the right time, but is it really?  Join Tom Reed for a weekend of learning and exploring some of the tricks that experienced field birders use to maximize their time in the field - the calendar, tide cycles, weather events, geography, habitat, and history, among others. Expect to split time between indoor sessions and outdoor. Check out this new and exciting addition to the Cape May School of Birding - sure to take your birding to the next level.  

Saturday, April 14 & Sunday, April 15
7:00 AM - 3:30 PM
$150 members, $200 nonmembers

Register now at: Cape May School of Birding

Thursday, March 29, 2018

2018 SCHOOL OF BIRDING Workshops - Here they are!!!

There are few places in the world that can equal or surpass the birding phenomenon at Cape May. Likewise, our Cape May School of Birding is unequaled for its range of content and quality of leaders - providing a fun, interactive, and personal setting to learn about birds and nature!!!!!

Our full 2018 schedule of in-depth workshop is now set, and we have brought back many of the favorites and added some exciting new programs. These one-three day events are led by experts in their field: world-class birders and naturalists that have often written the guides we all rely on. Our intimate approach to enjoyment and teaching will provide the opportunity and information you need to grow in understanding and appreciation. While the majority of time is spent in the field watching birds and nature, some of the workshops will incorporate an indoor session – a chance to demonstrate and discuss identification, techniques, conservation, and ecology. Along the way, you’ll meet like-minded people and are sure to form lasting memories and friendships. From beginner to advanced, all are welcome! All the while, your registration fees are helping support the mission of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory.

Several new additions are  coming up soon in April - Predictive Birding 101 with Tom Reed (April 14), Birding With A Purpose with Tom Johnson (April 22), and Visible Migration/Birds in Flight with Tom Reed (April 28) - touching on where/when to bird, documentation and eBird, and the magic of bird migration.

Don't wait!!!! Check out all the details and register now at:  Cape May School of Birding

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

2018 George Myers Naturalist - Rebecca Perruci

We're very pleased to have Rebecca Perruci joining the New Jersey Audubon "family" as this year's George Myers Naturalist, helping to educate and engage people about nature and birds in Cape May and beyond. Please welcome her when you see her out in the field or at one of the centers, and know she is making a difference and learning at the same time. In her own words:

"Hi, my name is Rebecca Perruci and I am so excited to become a part of the New Jersey Audubon community this year! I have always been fascinated with the animal kingdom and enjoy being out in nature. I pursued these interests with a degree in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Being surrounded by wonderful teachers, mentors, and friends, I couldn’t help but be encouraged in my love for birds and birding. After graduating in 2016, I decided to channel my desire to help birds into the field of zoo-keeping. I have been working as a bird keeper at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Gulf Breeze, Florida, for almost two years. My time at the zoo has helped me discover that what I love most of all, though, is teaching people about animals and the natural world around them. It is my goal to share my love of birds through public education, so as to inspire the next generation of biologists and conservationists. When I’m not out birding—which, admittedly, is most of the time—I can be found trail running, painting and drawing, and spending time with my Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Welcome David Brown to the Montclair Hawkwatch

With temperatures slowly climbing and the days getting longer, spring raptor migration is underway. For the 36th consecutive year, a Spring Hawkwatch is being conducted at the Mills Reservation on Edgecliff Rd. in Montclair, NJ - every day until May 15 (9:00 am - 5:00 pm).

New Jersey Audubon is pleased to announce and welcome this year's counter - David Brown:

David hails from Montoursville, PA. He is on the board of directors of the Lycoming Audubon Society. His local hawkwatch is the Route 15 Overlook. Last fall he was the counter at the Ashland Hawkwatch in Delaware. David has a degree in mathematics from Lycoming College. Outside of birding, he enjoys photography and playing guitar.

He is already counting and totaled 16 raptors on his first day (March 16th), including Turkey Vultures, Cooper's Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a Red-shouldered Hawk. You'll be able to follow along as we live stream the count on our website -  Live Data through Trektellen (check back if it's not up and running yet), or check the whole season at under Montclair - Hawkwatch. Better yet, please stop by and make him feel welcome and share in the joy of hawkwatching!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

GULLS SIMPLIFIED with Michael O'Brien - March 31

From the brown and mottled to the clean and gray, you either love gulls or you don't. Whatever camp you're in, join Michael O'Brien on this School of Birding workshop for a morning in the field, learning the easy way to separate the common wintering gulls from the less common and even rare, such as a Iceland Gull. You'll also learn to cut through the fancy terminology around age and molt. After lunch, you'll head indoors for a review of gull plumages, aging, and rare species. By the end, you're sure to love gulls, too. Preregistration required.

Saturday, March 31
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
$90 members, $120 nonmembers

Register now at: CMBO Programs

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Watching the sea in spring

March 1st was the kickoff for the newest migration count in Cape May, dubbed "Springwatch". This all-volunteer count has been going on for a few years but over the last three has become more regularly carried out on a daily basis between March and June.

Last year New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory was able to house several volunteer counters for the Springwatch, and this year we've gone a step further and offered some administrative support in addition to housing, for facilitating those who are willing to come and put in a few days to a few weeks of counting. The count continues to be led by Tom Reed, Cape May Co. native and author of the birding year in review for our annual journal, the Peregrine Observer. Tom has been splitting his time between Cape May and Duluth, MN, and has recently returned to carry out the spring count. You can track the movement of birds each day on the site (today's count is here:, or just show up to the Coral Avenue dune crossover any day between now and the end of May. The count begins at sunrise and continues for a minimum of 3 hours. The count may continue longer if the flight warrants it, and on rainy days the count is moved to the sheltered side of the Sunset Grille at the west end of Sunset Boulevard.

I had the pleasure of being the counter last Saturday morning and really enjoyed the diversity of birds that graced my view over the three hours, despite the overall low volume (winds howling out of the NW are not conducive to large flights in spring!). I especially enjoy watching the Bonaparte's Gulls (Chroicocephalus philadelphia ; Ord 1815) and their distinct flutter-flight, so buoyant in the air, and distinctly marked with a bright white wedge on the leading edge of their wing. I didn't have a chance to photograph birds while I was counting, so I headed out to Sunset Beach this morning to see if I could grab a few shots. The conditions were less than favorable (cloudy and rainy) but the birds were close to shore and putting on a show as they fed in the tumultuous whitewater.
Bonaparte's Gull with headlights on and coming in hot!
Three "Bonies" with a 1st-winter bird leading the two adults
Bonaparte's are a "two-year gull" meaning it takes two years for them to reach adult plumage. At this time of year all Bonaparte's are in winter plumage, sporting a white head with dark ear spot and black bill. Legs are bubblegum pink and obvious when the birds are standing on the beach. Birds born last summer have bold dark markings on the upper sides of their wings, as well as the tip of their tail, making them easily recognizable as "1st winter" birds (this is their first winter since they were born). Adult birds, in contrast, show clean gray backs and all-white tails.

Unique among gulls, Bonaparte's Gull nest almost exclusively in trees within the remote taiga and boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. Lucky for us, in winter they can be quite social and indifferent to humans, providing great opportunities to view them near shore especially along the Delaware Bay!

Another really cool sighting which occurred yesterday and continued again this morning, was of a Thick-billed Murre swimming close to shore both mornings. Dustin Welch captured a few shots of this uncommon-from-shore seabird yesterday when it was initially found by the Springwatch counters. Here's one of Dustin's great photos:

Thick-billed Murre © Dustin Welch
Of course as we progress into spring we will see diversity begin to ramp up quite quickly, so if you'd like to check out some of the great birds Cape May has to offer be sure to join us on one of our guided walks, attend one of our School of Birding workshops, or get a personal tour with our guide-for-hire service.

All the info you need is in our quarterly program guide, the Kestrel Express, downloadable here:
Or free to pick up at our Northwood Center, 701 E. Lake Drive.

We hope to see you soon here in Cape May!

A winter-plumaged Red-throated Loon from Sunset Beach
Red-breasted Merganser, the punk rock duck!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Each year the dance or nuptial flight of the male American Woodcock heralds spring. Witness this wonderful and short-lived spring phenomenon. Join Associate Naturalists Janet Crawford and Karen Johnson at the Center for Research and Education for a brief indoor session, then travel to a nearby woodcock hotspot to experience it yourself. Preregistration required.
Saturday, March 17
5:00 - 7:00 PM
$15 members, $20 nonmembers

Register now at: CMBO Programs

And the 2018 LAGU Award goes to...

Tom Johnson!

Congrats to Tom for finding the first Laughing Gull (LAGU) of 2018 (found on February 26th, at the Cape May / Lewes Ferry Terminal), an annual tradition that typically occurs around the first week of March, and has local birders calling from the hills: “bring on the spring migrants!”

Tom Johnson's Laughing Gull on February 26th

March 1 was also the kickoff of the volunteer-based visible migration count dubbed “Springwatch” which takes place daily from the Coral Avenue Dune Crossover on Cape May Point starting at sunrise and continuing for at least 3 hours depending on flight volume. Come visit our volunteer counters at your leisure, or contact Program Director Brett Ewald (brett.ewald AT to inquire about becoming a volunteer counter. You can also follow along on to see what's being spotted each morning.

Good Birding!