Eyes On The Sky

Our New Falconry Program at Congress Hall & The Rusty Nail

Let’s set the scene: You’ve just taken your seat in the garden of the Blue Pig Tavern. Calamari has just arrived to complement your cocktail. Then, they arrive. Circling above, on the hunt. Wings beating. Squawking, cawing, swooping beneath the umbrella to get some food.
Seagulls. When you’re by the beach in Cape May, they’re a fact of life. Congress Hall has tried everything. Fishing line strung in a grid over the table tops, plastic owls, transmitters that emit sounds, none of which have worked very well. But what if there was a way to deter them naturally and humanely, with a method that changes their behavior to avoid our seaside hotels in the future?
Enter: Falconry. The keeping and training of birds of prey. This summer, we’re excited to launch a falconry program at Congress Hall and The Rusty Nail, with the goal of naturally deterring seagulls.

An image of a Hawk next to an image of a sea gull.

If you see a hawk patrolling the grounds of Congress Hall and The Rusty Nail, it’s our new falconry program at work! Our Harris’s hawks, named Chase and Lily, are fast, agile in flight and are very threatening to seagulls. But don’t worry, they’re gentle! Their mere presence is a seagull deterrent.
Chase and Lily are very intelligent, highly trained raptors that make eye contact with the gulls and will not allow them to be comfortable in their territory. There is no other hawk which can put the fear in the gulls like the Harris’s hawk, working with its falconer.
Our falconers are Paul and Peg Totten. They are lifelong Cape May County residents and Master Class falconers. They bring with them over 30 years of experience in falconry, handling and flying these amazing raptors. During their 27 years of marriage, they have studied the natural environment and the wildlife of the southern New Jersey Seacoast and the Delaware Bay regions.
Our hawks have a job to do—but Paul and Peg are a friendly crew! If you see them at Congress Hall or The Rusty Nail this summer, be sure to say hello. They’ll be thrilled to talk with you about the birds and the science and their passion for falconry. We are keeping our fingers crossed, and looking forward to keeping our food on the plate!

A man holding a Falcon in his hand

Season: Summer
Happening at: Congress Hall & The Rusty Nail
Contact the Concierge for more information about this exciting new program