I must be honest; this is a post I have started and stopped a few times. Birding in Cape May is a HUGE deal! I touched upon it in my Fall is Fun in Cape May post. However, I found covering it in a meaningful way daunting. So, I called in reinforcements and asked my friend Claire (an avid Cape May birder) to lend me a hand. She has a level of knowledge and expertise that is required to hit all the right points.
When to Visit
Cape May is known as one of the ultimate destinations for birding in North America. National Geographic considers Cape May to be one of the World’s Best locations for birding. There are birds to be discovered at every time of the year, but spring and fall are particularly excellent times to visit. However, autumn is considered the prime time for birding in Cape May. More than 400 different species have been identified this time of year. Peter Dunne from New Jersey Audubon said “if you have not savored the bird riches of Cape May, visit Cape May Point State Park any time in October and get a face full of WOW. Tens of thousands of migrating hawks, songbirds, and waterbirds await you. Days with gusty northwest winds are best but migration is ongoing no matter what the weather.” Birds you might see: Cooper’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-wing Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine falcon and more.
Where to go Birding
Cape May Point State Park
Cape May Point State Park is where most seasoned birders would tell you to try. As it is virtually the southern tip of the state of New Jersey, it acts as a funnel for migratory birds. There are several trails that meander through fields, marshes and woods. It is also the location of the Cape May Bird Observatory which conducts research, encourages conservation, and organizes educational birding activities.
The Cape May Hawk watch occurs every fall beginning in September. The hawk viewing platform at the end of the parking lot typically draws over 100,000 visitors each season to watch thousands of raptors. Bonus – it is wheelchair accessible as are many sections of the Park. Lily Lake at the Point is also an excellent spot which attracts an assortment of water fowl amongst other birds. Some birds typically seen at the Point: Great Cormorant, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, American Oystercatcher, Hermit Thrush, America Bittern, Rufous Hummingbird and more!
South Cape May Meadows
The Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows is another well-known spot loved by birders from around the world. This 200-acre preserve is at a critical point on the Atlantic Flyway. There are flat very walkable trails that meander through the lush meadow. The Cape May Bird Observatory conducts weekly walks in the meadows on a weekly basis. Learn more about registering for the walks as well as the other activities offered here.
Another spot to discover for birding is Higbee Beach. This beach along the Delaware River has a 2.9 mile loop trail that has two viewing platforms and educational signage. The areas include fields, hedgerows, and deciduous and dune forests. It has been said that April through November is the best time for birding. Some typical birds in this area are: Warblers, Black-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Towhee, Bobolink, Brown Thrasher, Least Tern, Chimney Swift, Boat-tailed Grackle amongst others.
Osprey Boat Tours
Osprey Boat Tours are another great option for birding in Cape May. The boat was built for bird watching and has panoramic windows for an awesome view. In season, they offer a variety of cruises that provide a unique perspective for birders and nature lovers alike. Captain Bob knows exactly where to go to have the best experience and works closely with conservationists. My friend Claire said it is a must do for birders and visitors alike. She does not visit Cape May without booking a trip with Captain Bob!
Cape May Birding Events
The New Jersey Audubon has several event throughout the year focused on birding in Cape May. Check them out here to see the full list which includes The Fall Festival, The Spring Festival, The World Series of Birding and more!
Cape May Birding Tours
If you prefer to have a packaged birding experience, here are some great options in Cape May for birding tours.
Cape May Birding Books
There are several books available on Birding in Cape May if you would like to do a little reading on the subject.
Also check out my companion post for more birding equipment – some you may not even know you needed.
I hope my post has inspired you to try birding in Cape May. I tease my husband frequently that he is a secret birder, because he frequently points out different birds when we are out and about. My goal is to get him to embrace it, as I think it would be great fun for both of us. This post was meant to be a light introduction into the world of birding in Cape May. If you think I have missing something, please let me know if the comments or my email! If you are planning a trip to Cape May to try birding for yourself, please don’t forget to use my booking link. It could not be easier!
For more in-depth information on birding, please check out the following resources:
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