Fly Me to Cape May

Cape May's Fall Bird Migration

Let’s face it: Cape May is pretty famous. We have the best beaches, the best restaurants, and the prettiest historical houses that have been carefully preserved. Those who visit in September and October know that this little island at the southern tip of New Jersey has the ideal weather conditions during the autumn months. Not only is Cape May a well-known resting spot for those who travel by land and sea, but it is a welcome place to sit and perch for those winged visitors in the sky. Every year, folks from all over the world come to Cape May for the fall bird migration.
According to Richard Crossley, an internationally acclaimed birder and photographer residing in Cape May, September is the peak of bird migration. “The largest variety of birds are moving south to their wintering grounds. We get everything- 30 species of warbler, shorebirds, raptors- you name it. It’s possible to see nearly 200 species in a 2 week stay.” Visitors come from miles around in hopes of catching a glimpse at rare birds. Many locals are also bird enthusiasts- both recreational and professional. Mike Pasquarello, the front office manager at the Sandpiper, is also one of these amateur bird experts. “My mother got me involved in birding. I always had an interest in nature in general as a child but my mother was always fascinated with hawks, falcons, and eagles. Each fall we would travel to the best place to see them, Cape May, just to watch the amazing flights of these raptors over the lighthouse and state park.”
Mike is a member of the Cape May Bird Observatory, which is under the direction of David LaPuma. They say that some of the best places to see warblers, orioles, vireos, tanagers, eagles, hawks, and falcons is Cape May. Some of the best places for bird watching include Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, the adjacent Hidden Valley Extension, the Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows preserve, as well as the Cape May Observatory’s Hawkwatch Platform at the east end of Cape May Point State Park. Between September 1 and November 22 there are interns at the observatory and on the platform ready to answer any questions and help to spot some of the world’s rarest birds.
Mike also participates in the World Series of Birding each year. This event takes place in mid-May, to raise fund for conservation. It is coordinated by the New Jersey Audubon and hosted by the Cape May Bird Observatory. Teams of birders set out to see or hear as many species as possible in a 24 hour period beginning at midnight. Prizes are awarded in various categories, and there are teams for all ages and competition levels. You can learn more about how to participate in the World Series of Birding by Clicking Here.
To curate your Cape May Birding Adventure, follow the links below. Special thanks to Richard Crossley, Mike Pasquarello, and David DaPluma.