Plans for 2020 Monarch Migration Season

Sorry we haven’t published anything in a long time, it’s taken us a while to figure out how we will run our project this year in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.  The decisions have now been made, so here is a summary of what to expect.

Our research work will continue with very little change from past years.  The road census will be conducted three times a day from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, and then twice per day from Oct. 16 to 31.  The road census provides our long-term data set on the number of monarchs passing through Cape May each autumn, and this will be the 29th consecutive autumn for this long-term data gathering project.

We will hire at least one, and possibly two Field Naturalist Interns to work on the project for the months of September and October.  Our Naturalists will work with Field Coordinator Louise Zemaitis and Project Director Mark Garland to conduct the road censuses, perform habitat management, tag monarchs, and share information about monarchs to visitors during informal contacts and formal Cape May Bird Observatory programs.

Experienced volunteers will also help with tagging and informal education.  We will not be able to offer any training for new volunteers, alas, as we adhere to COVID-19 restrictions.

For most of the field season we will offer at least one formal program per week, with preregistration required.  Per COVID-19 restrictions, face coverings will be required and the group size will be kept very small, with all participants maintaining recommended social distance throughout.  We’ll share the schedule and registration procedures once that has been finalized.

We usually hire our seasonal staff in early July, but due to all of the uncertainties of this year the jobs have just been announced.  We will be reviewing resumes and conducting interviews over the next few weeks.  The job description and application procedures may be viewed here:  The Field Naturalist Intern position is designed to provide relevant experience for biologists and/or educators just starting out in their careers, but there are not specific age requirements.

The year 2020 has been dramatically different for everyone, all around the world, and the Monarch Monitoring Project will be different as well.  But we will be able to conduct our research and offer a small amount of public programming, and we’ll report back regularly on the status of the migration.