This exciting new migration monitoring project is underway at legendary birding hotspot Cape May, New Jersey. The Cape May Springwatch, a research initiative of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, has existed for some time as an exploratory project operated by volunteers. After several years of careful data collection, the project is now fully funded and is the only all-species migration count on the East Coast. Its success in 2019 is made possible through the generous support of Judy & Larry Winne and Carl Zeiss SBE, LLC .
The count season began March 1 and continues through May 31. Observations are made from a dune-top platform that overlooks the mouth of Delaware Bay to the west, and the town of Cape May Point to the east. Each day, counters arrive in time to start monitoring at sunrise, with the observation period continuing for three to five hours depending on conditions and migration intensity. A wide array of birds, often in excess of 200 species, are recorded during the three-month window. Some of the project’s focal species include Surf and Black scoters, Northern Gannet, Common Loon, Willet, and Pine Warbler; 35+ species of conservation concern are recorded each year.
A unique feature of the Springwatch is that electronic data entry provided by Trektellen allows for additional layers of information to be collected about each individual or flock that flies past. Based on the species, this may include flight direction, flight height, age, sex, and behavioral notes. In time, this additional data may further inform us about the timing and nature of migration for various species, allowing us to unravel the mysteries of bird movements to help understand how and why bird populations may be changing.
ZEISS has provided support to the project that includes the purchase of an interpretive signboard and the use of its world-class optics, including Victory binoculars and Harpia spotting scopes– essential field equipment that allows staff to operate the count without missing a thing, and to do so under any weather conditions.
For all of our watches head on over to our Migration Watch page.
Download our Springwatch flyer