Cape May Songbird Stopover Project – Week 2

Northern Waterthrush

This week we finally saw the beginnings of migration here on the Cape May Peninusla. While we continued to experience warm temperatures and southerly winds (not good for southbound migration), we did have a couple of weak cold fronts move through with birds in tow. Our biggest day of the year thus far put the banding team to the test – we capture 174 birds, nearly half of which were American Redstarts! We’re hoping the “feels like” temperatures of 99 degrees are behind us as we wrap up a very hot and humid August and head into September.  Some of the other highlights of the week were Summer Tanager (2), a first for the project since we started in 2018, a Cape May Warbler (not as common as you might think in Cape May!) and a Louisiana Waterthrush, which is typically an earlier migrant.  Again, American Redstarts and Northern Waterthrush dominated the list of most banded, but we also had good numbers of Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Yellow Warbler
Male Cape May Warbler
American Redstart 138 White-eyed Vireo 3
Northern Waterthrush 121 Summer Tanager 2
Traill’s Flycatcher 46 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Black-and-white Warbler 26 Blue-winged Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 18 Canada Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 13 Cedar Waxwing 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 13 Cape May Warbler 1
Gray Catbird 9 Downy Woodpecker 1
Prairie Warbler 9 Indigo Bunting 1
Northern Cardinal 8 Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Ovenbird 7 Northern Parula 1
Carolina Chickadee 6 Song Sparrow 1
Carolina Wren 6 Tennessee Warbler 1
Red-eyed Vireo 5 Tufted Titmouse 1
Veery 5 Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Worm-eating Warbler 5 Yellow-shafted Flicker 1
Magnolia Warbler 3


Solar-powered radio transmitter
Adult male America Redstart
Young male Summer Tanager

During Week 2 we also attached solar-powered VHF radio transmitters to four Northern Waterthrush to track their movements while on the Cape May Peninsula and also as they continue their migration south.  Our purpose is to better understand how long birds stay on the Peninsula during migration stopovers and how they use habitats during stopovers.   Stopover habitats must provide food resources necessary for birds to complete the next leg of their migration as well as safe places that allow birds to rest without experiencing minimal disturbance.  This year we will track Northern Waterthrush, Red-eyed Vireo and Veery.  The data collected from birds tagged with radio transmitters will help inform land managers about habitats important to these species during migration and allow us to develop effective habitat conservation strategies.