2018 Cape May Spring Festival

There is no place like Cape May New Jersey for springtime birding

Perhaps you have heard of all the legendary birding hot spots in Cape May, NJ, such as Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area (WMA), The Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows (aka “The Meadows”), and new this year, TNC’s Garrett Family Preserve on Cape Island Creek. Then, on up the road a piece, you will find Cox Hall Creek WMA. Springtime brings birders a bit farther to the north, on Rt. 47, aka Shorebird Alley, to Cooks Beach and Reeds Beach, Belleplain State Forest, and all the way up to Cumberland County for the shorebird-filled impoundments at Heislerville WMA. All these hot spots are within about 35 mile’s drive. The best way to experience them all is to immerse yourself into the Cape May Spring Festival!

This year we welcome John Kricher, author of the New Neotropical Companion, as our Keynote speaker on Saturday night.

You won’t want to miss his presentation, THE TRADE OFF. In this wide-ranging talk, John will contrast the lives, ecology, and natural history of long-distance migrant passerine birds, the orioles, tanagers, thrushes, flycatchers, and wood-warblers, with bird species that are permanent residents of lowland tropical forests, the antbirds, manakins, and motmots.

Your registration includes a wide selection of bird walks with our extremely talented local naturalists, as well as indoor programs, both educational and entertaining. A 3-day registration is $185. A daily registration is $69. There are also special “experiences” available exclusively to registrants, for additional fees, such as the coveted walk at the US Coast Guard Training Facility, and small group walks with Pete Dunne, John Kricher, Kevin Karslon and David La Puma.

We’re trying something new on Friday evening. Join us for social time at The Grand Hotel with music by the Magnolia Street String Band from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, and then Cape May’s own Mark Garland will offer a presentation about the Birds of The World, with prizes galore. You will have to see it to believe it! There is no extra fee for this fun evening!

Back by popular demand are our Leader’s Choice and Shorebird Express Trolley trips for $35. High tide occurs in the afternoons this weekend, so that’s when you’ll be looking for shorebirds. You may even run into New Jersey Audubon’s shorebird banding team up at Heislerville. These popular trips always fill up so don’t delay to sign up.

You’ll definitely want to sign up for an exploration of the back bay aboard The Osprey, offered twice each day, for $30. Captain Bob and our naturalists always seem to come up with something rare and exciting.

Round out your weekend with our 3-hour “Trip to the Rips” on Sunday afternoon. This trip is timed for the changing of the tides just off shore, which stirs up the fish, which brings in the birds! This trip is only available to 3-day and Sunday registrants at the rate of $35.00. Others pay $60, and it’s worth it either way. The trip sells out, so sign up early.


John Kricher

John Kricher recently retired as a Professor of Biology at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts who has taught courses in ecology, ornithology, and vertebrate evolution. His most recent book is The New Neotropical Companion (2017), a third edition, fully revised and full color throughout, of John’s highly successful book A Neotropical Companion. John has also written Tropical Ecology, (Princeton University Press 2011), now the leading textbook on the subject of global tropical ecology. He has authored The Balance of Nature: Ecology’s Enduring Myth (Princeton University Press 2009), and Galapagos: A Natural History (Princeton University Press 2006). Other books include three North American ecology field guides (Eastern Forests, Rocky Mountain and Southwestern Forests, California and Pacific Northwest Forests) all part of the Peterson series. The widely used previous edition of A Neotropical Companion was translated into Spanish through the Birders’ Exchange Program of the American Birding Association. He has also produced three recorded lecture series, one on dinosaurs, one on ecology, and one on the biology of birds, all published by Modern Scholar. His current project is authoring The Peterson Guide to Bird Behavior. John is a Fellow in the American Ornithologists Union and has served as president of the Association of Field Ornithologists, president of the Wilson Ornithological Society.

John’s talk is entitled “THE TRADE OFF.” In this wide-ranging talk, he will contrast the lives, ecology, and natural history of long-distance migrant passerine birds, the orioles, tanagers, thrushes, flycatchers, and wood-warblers, with bird species that are permanent residents of lowland tropical forests, the antbirds, manakins, and motmots. He will discuss factors that have likely resulted in many, but by no means most species adapting to long-distance migration and the costs and benefits that ensue. Characteristics such as life span, clutch size, foraging behavior, habitat choice, and wing shape, all vary between long-distance migrants and tropical resident species. This lively, thought-provoking, and thoroughly illustrated talk will explain why.

Mark Garland

Mark S. Garland is an Associate Naturalist for the Cape May Bird Observatory. He has been sharing his passion and enthusiasm for nature with others professionally for nearly 40 years. Hark is author of Watching Nature: A Mid-Atlantic Natural History, and is the nature editor for the Metro Connection program on WAMU, Washington, DC’s public radio station. In 1995, Mark founded the Cape Charles, Virginia, Monarch butterfly research project, and has been the Director of the Monarch Monitoring Project in Cape May since 2015. He has led eco-tours for various organizations for twenty-five years, leading well over 150 trips to date, along with countless field trips within the mid-Atlantic states. When not leading tours to just about anywhere in the world, he resides in West Cape May.

During the Friday evening reception, Mark will be hosting “The Great Amazing Wonderful Birds of the World” trivia quiz. We provide the cash bar and light snacks; Mark will provide the quiz. So bring your thinking caps, and be ready for a time of socializing with fellow birders and CMBO naturalists while at the same time learning some astounding facts about our avian friends. And,,,perhaps win a prize!!! It’s a fun and insightful evening that only Mark can create. And it’s included in your registration fee, so we hope to see you there! Afterwards, you’re free to take your new-found knowledge to dinner on your own — visit one of our business partners to show your support for their conservation efforts.

May 17 – May 20

5pm – 9pm

Grand Hotel of Cape May
1045 Beach Ave
Cape May, New Jersey 08204