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 Redstart138White-eyed Vireo3
Northern Waterthrush121Summer Tanager2
Traill’s Flycatcher46Blue-gray Gnatcatcher1
Black-and-white Warbler26Blue-winged Warbler1
Yellow Warbler18Canada Warbler1
Common Yellowthroat13Cedar Waxwing1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird13Cape May Warbler1
Gray Catbird9Downy Woodpecker1
Prairie Warbler9Indigo Bunting1
Northern Cardinal8Louisiana Waterthrush1
Ovenbird7Northern Parula1
Carolina Chickadee6Song Sparrow1
Carolina Wren6Tennessee Warbler1
Red-eyed Vireo5Tufted Titmouse1
Veery5Yellow-breasted Chat1
Worm-eating Warbler5Yellow-shafted Flicker1
Magnolia Warbler3


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.

New Jersey Audubon