A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Fall For Cape May II 2021

September 26-October 2, 2021 with Tom Johnson guiding

It's difficult to go wrong with a fall birding trip to Cape May, New Jersey, but this week's confluence of great birds, excellent migration weather, and fun people made it a fantastic experience all around.

Songbirds, raptors, ducks, shorebirds, and more passed by in large numbers on their southbound migrations, and we even saw a host of unusual species for Cape May including Eurasian Wigeon, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Wilson's Phalarope, White Ibis, Sandhill Crane, Common Raven, Western Kingbird, and Townsend's Warbler. In addition to the birds, we happened to be in place for the biggest monarch flight at Cape May in ten years! One evening we were fortunate to witness a large roosting event with thousands of monarchs in the pines of Cape May Point; the next day, they took off en masse across the mouth of Delaware Bay.

As always, we stayed each night of the tour at the same oceanfront hotel in Cape May, just minutes away from some of the reliable birding locations we visited repeatedly through the week. This allowed us to play the weather and visit the best locations for specific conditions. Westerly winds dominated during our week together, which helped make for some large movements of landbird migrants on the Cape May peninsula (which acts like a funnel, concentrating birds near the narrow tip). Perhaps my favorite morning of the tour was the third full day when we met the dawn along the Delaware Bayshore and wave after wave of landbird migrants rushed past us. We saw 400+ Northern Flickers, 800+ Blackpoll Warblers, 100+ Cedar Waxwings, a rare Western Kingbird, and much more that morning - it was really special to be "in the stream" with birds flying all around us. In contrast to the spectacle and mayhem of those strong morning flights, we also spent time tracking down individual migrant warblers in the thickets and woods of Cape May Point. On one afternoon visit to Lily Lake, we saw 14 species of warblers including Cape May, Tennessee, Pine, Black-throated Green, and more.

Thanks for joining me in my backyard for a stellar week in the field!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

A long-staying bird at Forsythe NWR was a nice surprise for our week. This species has been increasing in the Mid-Atlantic in recent years.

SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens)

Two were at Forsythe NWR, where a few usually linger through the summer.

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

Common and widespread.

MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor) [I]

This exotic species was seen every day on freshwater ponds and marshes, especially at Cape May Point and Forsythe NWR.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

Wow - one pond at Forsythe NWR held 42 of these amazing beauties, and we saw more at Cape May Point.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

We saw lots of these small migrant ducks, with the top count of 85 coming from Forsythe NWR.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Dozens of these "spoonbills" had arrived, with most at Forsythe NWR.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

A few dozen were at Cape May Point and Forsythe NWR.

EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)

We saw a molting rust-headed male on two occasions on Lighthouse Pond at Cape May Point. This species is rare but regular at Cape May.

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

These migrants were beginning to arrive in numbers, with a few dozen between Cape May Point and Forsythe NWR.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)



These dark dabblers are something of an East Coast specialty, and we soaked them in whenever we found them. We even picked out a hybrid Mallard x American Black Duck at Cape May Point.


110 of these graceful ducks were at Forsythe NWR, with smaller numbers at Cape May.


We estimated nearly 200 at Forsythe NWR, and smaller numbers were at Cape May Point, too. It was great to compare these tiny dabblers side-by-side with Blue-winged Teal (which, despite appearances, are not super close relatives within the genus Anas).

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

We found just a couple of these diminutive diving birds at Forsythe NWR and Cape May Point.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Common around towns.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Common, with lots flying by early and late in the days.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

We found one of these caterpillar-eaters at Higbee Beach.

BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)

A real highlight - this beautiful, slim-billed cuckoo sat out nicely in the canopy at Higbee Beach and offered us some wonderful views in the scope.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

One of these long distance migrants was seen on Cape Island late in the trip.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

Just one seen overhead at Cape May Point SP.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

Three came in to a yard full of native plants and hummingbird feeders on our final morning in West Cape May.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (ATLANTIC COAST) (Rallus crepitans crepitans) [*]

We heard these big saltmarsh rails on several occasions but they proved visually elusive.

VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola) [*]

Heard grunting on several occasions on Cape Island.

Gruidae (Cranes)

SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)

Three were seen distantly in flight as they circled around over Cape May Point. This species is uncommon but increasing in Cape May.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

We found about 70 of these handsome shorebirds on the Osprey boat trip.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Dozens in the flats and back bays of Wildwood and Stone Harbor.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

A fairly common small migrant plover here; our biggest count was 29 birds at Stone Harbor Point.

PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)

Four of these rare, ghostlike plovers were blending in with the pale sand at Stone Harbor Point.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scattered 1s and 2s at many spots throughout the week.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

A juvenile on our Osprey boat trip was a bit late.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

18 were hanging out on docks and pilings during the Osprey boat trip.

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

A nicely scalloped gray juvenile was hanging out with Willets at the Wetlands Institute.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)

Small numbers were with yellowlegs at Cape May Point and Forsythe NWR.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Hundreds were on the beaches and jetties between Wildwood and Stone Harbor.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

A few dozen of these late-migrating sandpipers between Jarvis Sound and Forsythe NWR.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Small numbers were mixed with other shorebirds; our max count was 16 at the Meadows.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

The three that we saw at the Meadows were super close to the blind we stood in - awesome, close views of these crisp juveniles.


About 285 tallied between several different sites, with a peak count of 170 at Forsythe NWR.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

About ten of these droopy-billed sandpipers were mixed with other shorebirds at Stone Harbor Point.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

Dozens were mixed with other shorebirds, with our high count of 50 at Forsythe NWR.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

Eight were mixed in with other shorebirds at Forsythe NWR. This species is scarce in the Mid-Atlantic so it was nice to spend some time teasing out the identification in comparison with Short-billed Dowitchers.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor)

One was dashing around with yellowlegs at the "dogleg" at Forsythe NWR. This needle-billed shorebird is a scarce species in the region.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

Five along Jarvis Sound during the Osprey boat trip.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

Two were at the Meadows during our first walk.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Several dozen scattered through many wetland sites (both saltwater and freshwater), including a top count of 28 at Forsythe NWR.

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

We saw 80 "Western" Willets roosting at the Wetlands Institute. Single late "Eastern" Willets were at Wetlands Institute and Jarvis Sound. We spent time noting the differences between these distinctive subspecies (which could be recognized as two separate species in the future).

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

A bit less common than Greater Yellowlegs on this tour, and all of ours were in freshwater marsh habitats, too.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Hundreds were still around and moving past on migration. During spring and summer, this is the most conspicuous bird at Cape May, but by late September/ early October, many have left to the south.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

About 20 birds seen, with half of those at Forsythe NWR.

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

The common large gray-backed gull here - we saw hundreds.


This European immigrant is increasingly common here, with an impressive 30 seen during one walk at Stone Harbor Point.


The largest gull in the world, and one of the most common gulls at Cape May in mid-fall. We saw hundreds.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

This large tern is at its peak abundance in the Cape May area in fall; we found 45 birds, including 35 at Forsythe NWR.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

Quite uncommon during this trip, with only 3 individuals noted at Stone Harbor Point and the Cape May City beach

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

This is by far the most common mid-sized tern here in mid-late fall; we saw over 400 of these birds.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

After breeding in summer to the south of Cape May, many move north to feed and raise their chicks in the fish-rich waters here. We found them regularly along the beaches and inlets.

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

A massive flock was lounging on the beach in Cape May just across from our hotel. We estimated up to 500 individuals on one visit to the impressive flock.

Gaviidae (Loons)

COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)

Three seen as flyovers at Cape May Point.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

One was perched on top of a jetty tower at Cold Spring Inlet during our Osprey boat trip.

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)

This is the common cormorant here, and we caught some of the migration - hundreds seen passing by to the south.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Four flew past during our walk at Stone Harbor Point.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

A common fall migrant here at Cape May, with over 40 seen during the week.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Plenty were feeding in the coastal marshes, with peak counts of 35 at Forsythe NWR and 40 in Jarvis Sound.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Nearly 100 seen at various wetlands along the coast, often in mixed flocks with other herons.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Just about 3 individuals seen between Stone Harbor and the Meadows. Cape May is about as far north as this species can be considered common on the East Coast.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

Two at the Wetlands Institute and three others at Jarvis Sound during the Osprey boat trip.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Just three individuals - 1 at Cape May Point and 2 at Forsythe NWR.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Several sightings at Forsythe NWR and in Jarvis Sound.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Three of these lanky crab-hunters were mixed in with Black-crowned Night-Herons at a day roost in the marsh of Jarvis Sound.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Just a few years ago, this would have been considered a rarity in Cape May. Now that they are breeding locally, it's a regular sight through fall. We found 4 at the Wetlands Institute and 4 more flying over in Jarvis Sound.

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

These dark ibis were lingering at Forsythe NWR (3) and Jarvis Sound (1).

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Fairly common year-round resident here.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Dozens formed soaring kettles over Cape May Point.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

This tour overlaps with the end of the peak of Osprey migration - we tallied well over 100 of these fish hawks as they migrated past and fished in the waters of Cape May.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

These slender, distinctive "marsh hawks" were migrating through in steady numbers during the week, and we also saw some hunting the marshes at Forsythe NWR.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

These small Accipiter hawks are some of the most numerous raptors migrating through in Cape May in fall, though the population has been declining. We saw them all over the place during our week together.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Less abundant than Sharp-shinned Hawk in Cape May, but still quite common. We had ample opportunities to compare the smaller, fast-flapping Sharp-shinned with the larger, steadier, round-tailed Cooper's.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Regular sightings of migrants and a couple of resident adults. It was pretty awesome to see these massive raptors chasing Ospreys in order to steal their fish.

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Buteo lineatus)

Only one, a bird seen flying over at Cox Hall Creek WMA. The bulk of the Red-shoulders migrate through Cape May later in the fall.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

For Cape May, we saw a LOT of Broad-winged Hawks. This species largely avoids migrating down the coast and spurns water crossings. However, with westerly winds quite prevalent this fall, a few groups of 15-20 birds circled over at Cape May Point.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Just about five individuals seen this week - the bulk of the Red-tailed Hawks move later in the fall.

Strigidae (Owls)

EASTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops asio) [*]

We heard one whistling from a dense thicket at Cox Hall Creek WMA, but could not track it down visually.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

These familiar birds were fairly common in wetlands visited on the tour.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


We caught the beginning of the sapsucker migration with four individuals seen bounding past.

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

One flew by distantly at Higbee Beach, but we tracked down four more in the Delaware Bay "ghost forest" at Dennis Creek WMA.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

A fairly common resident and sporadic migrant at Cape May - we had plenty of chances to see this handsome bird.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

Several sightings of these small woodpeckers.

NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus)

Absolutely stunning! We were pleased to be "in the stream" of a few different large flicker morning flights, with these beautiful woodpeckers bounding past at close range just outside of arm's reach. Our morning flight high counts included 60, 150, and one day of 410!

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

We had great looks at a regular stream of these small falcons passing by at Cape May Point.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

We tallied about 25 of these compact, dark missiles as they passed by in coastal areas.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

West winds are great for most species, but they probably have the effect of pushing Peregrines offshore as they head south. Though they weren't around in peak numbers, we still saw about a dozen of these iconic predators. The one that was eating gravel on the road at Forsythe NWR was a bit puzzling!

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

Regular sightings of this widespread eastern flycatcher. We practiced checking out their long wingtips to help separate these from the smaller Empidonax flycatchers.

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

A common late fall migrant - we caught quite a wave of phoebes, including 16 one morning at Higbee Beach.

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

I may have uttered a few four-letter words in surprise when this rare migrant flew past us during our morning flight extravaganza at Del Haven. We had some brief looks at it before it continued up the Delaware Bayshore.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus) [*]

We heard one singing at Higbee Beach.

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

A very common sight, with over 30 tallied in various mixed flocks around Cape May.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

We saw plenty moving around in small flocks, though there were far fewer this fall than in 2020.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)


FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)

We saw and heard these eastern crows on quite a few occasions and compared them with American Crows, too.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

This locally rare species put in an appearance on our final morning at Cape May Point. Ravens started nesting in northern Cape May County just a few years ago, and it's still surprising to see one in the area.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

A common flocking species around the woods of Cape May.

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

Seen regularly, often with Carolina Chickadees and mixed songbird flocks.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

These swallows stage in Cape May to feed on insects and bayberry fruit and molt their flight feathers. We saw some big flocks of up to 700 birds.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

About four individuals were seen; most pass through earlier in the fall.

Regulidae (Kinglets)


These tiny northern migrants were starting to show off in good numbers during our trip.

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)

Quite common in mixed songbird flocks around Cape May.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

We heard the high nasal calls of a few individuals around Cape May Point.

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)

Just one at Cox Hall Creek WMA.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

A few at Cape May Point and Higbee Beach. These often move through Cape May with waves of kinglets.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

A scattering of tail-flipping birds around Cape May Point. This is near the end of the fall migration window for the species here.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

We saw a lot of these widespread wrens as migrants, mostly at Higbee Beach and Cape May Point.

WINTER WREN (Troglodytes hiemalis) [*]

Two birds heard calling "chimp chimp" at Cape May Point SP.

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

These wrens are just about everywhere with dense vegetation around Cape May. Particularly common around Cape May Point and Higbee Beach.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]


Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

Lots of these eastern mimids, especially in the wooded edges of Cape Island.

BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)

We had some nice luck finding these skulkers, with up to 7 in one outing at Higbee Beach.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Common and conspicuous.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

Two birds were in the ghost forest at Dennis Creek WMA near where we saw the Red-headed Woodpeckers.

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)

Two skulked in the woods at Cox Hall Creek and Higbee Beach.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Though this species is abundant later in the fall, we only found two individuals this week.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Lots of migrant flocks, with up to 110 seen in morning flight at Del Haven.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Common around towns.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) [I]

Regular sightings of this widespread species.


Plenty of sightings of these small finches, though most were seen and heard as flyovers.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

Two were near the parking lot at Forsythe NWR.

FIELD SPARROW (Spizella pusilla)

A few nice sightings of these cute, buffy sparrows - at Hidden Valley and Cape May Point SP.

SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima)

Repeated good sightings, including at least 10 at Nummy Island alone.

NELSON'S SPARROW (Ammospiza nelsoni)

Two sat up in the marsh at Dennis Creek WMA on our final morning together.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

Very common as a fall migrant in Cape May. As we drove around the wildlife drive at Forsythe NWR, we were constantly seeing these birds flying off the road and perching alongside the road.

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

Regular sightings, though the bulk of the numbers of these widespread sparrows had not arrived yet.

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)

One of these well-streaked beauties at Hidden Valley was a nice sighting.

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)

Very common, with dozens arriving in the wetland edges of Cape May Point during the tour.

EASTERN TOWHEE (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) [*]

Two heard during a walk at Higbee Beach.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

These long distance migrants were regularly heard and seen as flyovers, and we found a few in the marshes at Forsythe NWR and the Meadows.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

Just two seen at Cape May Point SP.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Hundreds seen in big flocks around the peninsula.


Five were mixed with other blackbirds at Forsythe NWR.

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

Just one at Cape May Point SP. Though common later in fall, this widespread species can be scarce during this time window.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

Regular sightings of these big grackles in saltmarsh habitats on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)


These striped, tree-creeping warblers were fairly common this week, with a total of 26 seen.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

Our best sighting of this uncommon species was in the trees in front of the Cape May Bird Observatory at Lily Lake during one of our afternoon walks.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

We found individuals at Higbee Beach and Cape May Point State Park.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

Very common as a migrant during this window of fall migration, with 107 tallied during the week.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

This species peaks in numbers at Cape May in early September, before the tour, but we still found about 30 in the woods.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Repeated sightings of these fantastic boreal-breeding warblers. Perhaps our top sighting was when we found a small flock of this species together in the redcedars along the edge of Lily Lake one afternoon.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

These small songbirds are some of the most common warblers at Cape May in September, and we saw nearly 100, including quite a few zipping past us in morning flight.

MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)

Repeated nice sightings of this handsome species in mixed flocks of songbirds around the tip of the peninsula.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

Good numbers - about 25 birds scattered around woods, field edges, and marshes.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)

One of these tail-cocking warblers danced around over our heads in a big oak tree at the back of Cape May Point SP late in the week.

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

These long distance migrants were really moving through in numbers during our trip. The best views (remember those yellowish feet?) were in the lakeside trees in Cape May Point, but we did have about 800 fly past one morning during the morning flight spectacle at Del Haven.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

We got off to a slow start with this species, but ended up finding a few cooperative individuals around the Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point.

PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum)

These tail-pumping warblers were passing in good numbers during our tour - we tallied over 160 during the week. They frequently offered nice views on the ground.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

Repeated encounters with these stout-billed, long-tailed warblers, including 7 during one walk around Lily Lake in Cape May Point.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata)

By far the most common warbler seen in late fall at Cape May; our tour included this fall's first wave of Yellow-rumps, with about 250 birds tallied.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Sightings of 6 individuals, with some particularly nice views in low bushes at the Meadows.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi)

This western rarity was found near the entrance to Cape May Point SP and we got to join in on a fun twitch in the dunes. Great views of this sharp visitor (only my second-ever sighting at Cape May).


Two sightings, both near Lily Lake in Cape May Point.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

One popped up briefly in Cape May Point SP.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)


ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Just two encounters, both brief, at Higbee Beach and Cox Hall Creek WMA.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Most of our encounters were of birds buzzing overhead in morning flight, but we did find a few on the ground, too.


EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

The only rabbit here at Cape May.


Three seen in the woods at Forsythe NWR.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

The most common mammal of our tour.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

A few sightings of these large, gray dolphins in the nearshore waters off Cape May Point.

NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

The one we saw walking around out in the saltmarsh during the Osprey boat trip was an unusual sighting!

Totals for the tour: 162 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa