Fall Migration in Cape May
Each fall, migrating songbirds, hawks, monarchs and more funnel into southern New Jersey’s peninsula in great numbers. Here's a sampling of who to look for at our South Cape May Meadows Preserve right now.
Banding studies conducted in Cape May Point have documented the importance of the Atlantic coast as a fall migration route for these diminutive raptors.
Though monarch population numbers continue to vacillate, monitoring groups are cautiously optimistic about Cape May’s 2018 crop of butterflies.
American Woodock feed heavily on earthworms to build up their body-fat reserves before crossing the Delaware Bay and continuing south.
Common Loons leave the northern lakes that serve as their summer breeding grounds and head down the Atlantic coast. They eat fish and are agile swimmers, but they are also speedy in the air—they’ve been clocked flying at more than 70 mph!
Each fall, Northern flickers travel south from Alaska and Canada. Unlike other woodpeckers, northern flickers prefer to dig for—and eat—ants from the ground.
Green-winged teal will “dabble” with other duck species, but can be differentiated by their small, compact bodies that float high out of the water.
Tree swallows can form enormous flocks numbering in the hundreds of thousands of birds, which have been known to darken the skies of Cape May in the Fall.
Peregrines are found on every continent except Antarctica, and the Atlantic Flyway is one of their known migratory paths.
Yellow-rumped warblers love the shrubby habitats of New Jersey’s coast like those found in Cape May.
Some of these fierce raptors will migrate south from Canada, but some take up year-round residence in the lower 48 states. They can frequently be spotted along mountain ridges, on telephone poles and scouting for prey (predominately large flying insects) from high in treetops.
Cape May is such a legendary and productive hotspot that you can find doorstop-sized books written about birds and birding on this tiny peninsula.
Fall migration is a must-see in Cape May, expect to see a wide variety of migrants from September through November.