At New Jersey Audubon we keep our finger on the pulse of migration through our long-term migration watches, coordinated by our Cape May Bird Observatory. These watch sites are places you can visit to actively see bird migrating during the spring and fall. Our watches are staffed with NJ Audubon counters that log each and every bird they spot migrating through in real-time, and seasonal naturalist interns there to help explain the phenomena of migration as well as to help get you on and identify the birds! The daily counts can also be viewed online via our website.
We hope you enjoy your visit and please feel free to ask our naturalist interns your pressing questions.
Check the individual watches for real-time counts and seasonal data
Choose a Watch to visit
Avalon is a seabird watcher’s dream come true. Situated where the tip of Avalon extends a mile farther out into the ocean than the coastline to the north, southbound seabirds that are following this coastline pass very close to the beachfront. Here you can combine excellent views with staggering totals; in a normal year over 700,000 waterbirds pass by the Avalon Seawatch and in a good year that number tops 1 million!
Active 9/22 to 12/22
Cape May Hawkwatch
In geographic terms, Cape May is a peninsula, an extension of the New Jersey coastal plain bordered to the west by Delaware Bay and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. This makes Cape May an ideal natural funnel, catching and directing southbound birds to the peninsula’s terminus at Cape May Point. Our Cape May Bird Observatory has been conducting this hawkwatch each fall since 1976, and each fall tens of thousands of visitors spend time watching tens of thousands of raptors stream over in southbound migration! Whether it’s Broad-winged Hawks and Ospreys in September, Peregrine Falcons and Merlins in October, or Golden Eagles and Red-shouldered Hawks in November, you’ll want to be there to see it all!
Active 9/1 – 11/30
Nestled atop a 500-foot basalt ledge, on a ridge known as the First Watchung Mountain in Montclair, New Jersey, is a well constructed, stone-filled platform that is the site of the Montclair Hawkwatch Lookout. The second oldest hawkwatch in North America, and one of the few that operate in both spring and fall, Montclair offers amazing sights of raptors passing through, along with songbirds and monarch butterflies – all set against an unobstructed view of NYC.
Active 3/15 – 5/15 & 9/1 – 11/30
Many songbirds, particularly warblers, are nocturnal migrants. However, in certain coastal areas such as Cape May, thousands of songbirds make brief migratory flights just after sunrise, as they head back up the Delaware Bayshore. On any given day between August 1st and early November, especially after the overnight passage of a cold front, you can bet there will be a great show at the Morning Flight Songbird count site in the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area!
Active 8/1 – 11/15
The geographic features that make Cape May Point a beautiful location (an extensive peninsula surrounded by the ocean and a large bay) also provide a mix of bird migration flyways and stopover habitat in spring – truly a crossroads of migration unlike any other on the East Coast – from scoters and other seabirds feeding in the Delaware Bay or following the coast to breeding grounds to songbirds, shorebirds, raptors and others on a more direct northward path to the Point after crossing the open bay. The Cape May Springwatch, NJ Audubon Cape May Bird Observatory’s newest long-term seasonal research project, is positioned perfectly to capture the diversity and quantity of this bird migration phenomenon, involving over 100 species and 100,000+ individuals.
March 1st until last day in May