A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Spring in Cape May 2023

May 6-12, 2023 with Tom Johnson guiding

Cape May is one of America's most famous birding hotspots during migration. Spring and fall have distinct flavors here, to be sure, and this week at "Land's End" gave us a memorable slice of the spring version. Each day, our intrepid band of birders headed out in a different direction to take advantage of the peninsula's geography and the weather cards we were dealt along the way.

Because Cape May is such an excellent concentration point for birds, we didn't have to go very far afield. Most of our birding took place in a 30-mile long strip of the southern tip of New Jersey, with much of it inside a ten minute drive from our hotel! We did venture a bit farther north to check out the famed Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which was especially worthwhile as we tallied almost 90 species of birds in around 3 hours!

We found a broad diversity of birds including 28 species of warblers, oodles of migrant shorebirds including recently arrived Red Knots, tricky Atlantic Coast breeders like Saltmarsh Sparrow and Clapper Rail, and even some nightbirds like Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will's-widow. Rarities also helped to spice things up. For example, I certainly wasn't expecting to see Common Redpoll or two Anhingas on this tour!

As usual, we stayed at a single beachfront hotel for the entire week, and we sampled different Cape May restaurants each night to round out this trip with some tasty local cuisine.

Thanks for joining me here around my home of Cape May. For your next visit, I'd encourage you to come on back and check out the fall migration, too!

Good birding,


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)

BRANT (ATLANTIC) (Branta bernicla hrota)

Thirty of these Arctic-breeding geese fed on a grassy ballfield in Ocean City.

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

A common breeder here.

MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor)

These exotic waterfowl are entrenched in the freshwater ponds around Cape May.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

Our only sighting was at Forsythe NWR.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

A pair paddled around the salt pannes at The Wetlands Institute.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

Two were at the Meadows.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

Common year-round here. We also saw a male Mallard x American Black Duck hybrid in the marsh at Nummy Island.


Our best views of these Atlantic Coast ducks were in the saltmarsh at Nummy Island.

BUFFLEHEAD (Bucephala albeola)

A female type was in the main impoundment at Forsythe NWR.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

A flock of 19 floated together in the big impoundment at Forsythe NWR.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

Two were foraging in a yard near Higbee Beach.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Common around towns and bridges.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)


Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

We heard these cuckoos quite a few times and tracked down a couple at Cox Hall Creek for overhead views.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW (Antrostomus carolinensis)

On our night outing, we were excited to see and hear this big nightjar in a mixed forest near the Woodbine Airport.

EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus vociferus)

We positioned ourselves in Belleplain State Forest at dusk and caught the beginning of the dusk chorus, seeing a male "Whip" very well as he kicked off his evening.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

Numerous sightings of these common eastern swifts, including at the Meadows and near the martin colony at CMPSP.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

Seen regularly, but the most memorable sighting was of the female bringing in material to build a nest at Cox Hall Creek.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans)

We heard these common large rails on numerous occasions from the saltmarsh, and got to watch one bathing in a small tidal creek at Forsythe NWR.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

These large, boldly marked shorebirds were nesting on several beaches and marsh islands we visited.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Dozens of these handsome breeding plumage plovers were at coastal sites.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Small numbers were scattered along the coasts, with a max count of 25 on Jarvis Sound.

PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)

To see this state endangered species, we took a walk down the beach at Stone Harbor Point. We eventually found a pair starting to "scrape" nest sites in the dunes.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

We saw small numbers of these widespread plovers, mostly on Cape Island where a few pairs nest.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

These stripe-headed curlews were most common in the Atlantic saltmarshes, including at Forsythe NWR and Jarvis Sound.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

We saw dozens of these calico shorebirds along the coasts and during our boat trip in Jarvis Sound.

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

On one of our trips to the Delaware Bayshore, we found a newly arrived flock of 90 of these long distance migrants. The flock rested on the beach, probably preparing to duke it out with other shorebirds and gulls for horseshoe crab eggs at the water's edge. Later, we saw three more during the boat trip in Jarvis Sound.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

About 120 were along the water's edge at Stone Harbor Point.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

Thousands wheeled and fed along the coast. Max count of 5000 at Forsythe NWR.

PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima)

These High Arctic nesting shorebirds migrate north late in the spring, so we had a good shot to find them. Fortunately, we tracked down these spangled breeding plumage birds on an algae-covered jetty at Stone Harbor.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

We saw small numbers mixed in with other shorebirds at coastal and freshwater sites.

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis)

We studied one of these long-winged peeps mixed in with Semipalmated Sandpipers at Forsythe NWR.


Numbers were just beginning to arrive in New Jersey during the tour; nonetheless, we saw over a thousand with a peak count of 800 at Forsythe NWR.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

Common northbound migrants; the flock of over 800 at Heislerville was particularly impressive.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

Small numbers of these teetering shorebirds at ponds, marshes, and beaches.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

These migrants were at the Beanery and along the edge of Lake Nummy at Belleplain State Forest.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

We saw several dozen scattered between coastal sites. More common than Lesser Yellowlegs during our tour.

WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata)

These stout, heavily marked Willets were staking out breeding territories in many saltmarshes along the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bayshore.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Small numbers were mixed with other shorebirds.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)

Maximum count of three immature birds at Cape May Point SP.

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Many thousands of these abundant breeding gulls were near their Stone Harbor breeding colonies and along the Delaware Bayshore beaches where they fed on horseshoe crab eggs.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

We saw up to 20 of these widespread gulls in the feeding frenzy at Cooks Beach.

HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus)

The common pale, large gull of the Cape May area. We saw up to 200 during the beach frenzy on the Delaware Bayshore.


We saw three of these long distance migrant gulls at Cape May Point SP and another at Stone Harbor Point.


Dozens were along the peninsula's beaches. Our largest gull!

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

We saw plenty of these tiny terns along the beaches at Cape May, with a max count of 70 at Cape May Point SP.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

A dozen of these long-winged terns were hunting the marshes of Forsythe NWR.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Three patrolled the impoundments at Forsythe NWR. This species is a scarce breeder in coastal New Jersey.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

We found these gray-bodied terns repeatedly along the Atlantic Coast, including at their nesting colonies during our boat trip.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

Hundreds of these silvery terns were along the oceanfront and marshes of Cape May. They outnumber Common Terns here during the spring.

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

These odd waterbirds were in large flocks at Heislerville and Forsythe NWR. It was great to see a few of them skimming over shallow water.

Gaviidae (Loons)

COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)

A decent number stuck around late this spring, and we were fortunate to enjoy them repeatedly between Cape May and Stone Harbor.

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)

These big seabirds were cruising offshore from North Wildwood and Cape May Point.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

On May 8th, it was very exciting to see one and then two Anhingas soaring over the Beanery in West Cape May. These southern waterbirds are extremely rare here, so this was quite a fortuitous sighting.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

These widespread waterbirds were scattered widely around the peninsula. A few hundred were at the nesting colony at Heislerville, and over 600 were along the edge of Delaware Bay at Reeds Beach.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Small numbers were at Heislerville, Forsythe NWR, and Ocean City. Though common at other times of year, this species does not breed locally so they're a bit scarce in May.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Common; up to 55 at Ocean City.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

These small white egrets were seen widely, with up to 30 at Ocean City.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Two adults were mixed in with the other wading birds nesting at Ocean City.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

A small number of these southern waders were at Nummy Island and at Ocean City, where they nest.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Two were seen repeatedly as they foraged in the roadside grass at the Beanery. Scarce in New Jersey.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

These small herons were in wooded marshes at several spots on the peninsula.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

About 25 were in their nesting colony at Ocean City.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Colonies of dozens of these well-marked beauties were at Ocean City and Wildwood.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

The colony at Ocean City hosted at least 400 birds during our visit. After they started breeding in New Jersey in 2020, the nesting population has increased dramatically.

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

These attractive wading birds were feeding in flocks around the peninsula and attending their nests at Ocean City.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Small numbers cruised the skies over Cape Island.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Common over Cape May, with up to 20 soaring in West Cape May at one time.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

These "fish hawks" are very common breeders here during spring and summer. We saw dozens on each day of the tour.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Multiple birds seen in flight on three occasions around West Cape May and Cape May Point.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Small numbers of these huge raptors were at Cape May, Jarvis Sound, and Forsythe NWR.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

These small, migrant Buteos were soaring over Cape May Point and Belleplain SF (where they nest).

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

These common hawks were seen numerous times while driving around the peninsula.

Strigidae (Owls)

BARRED OWL (Strix varia)

We heard the "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?" of one of these forest owls during an evening walk at the Beanery.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

One was at Cape May Harbor.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Our first sighting was of a flyby at the lighthouse in Cape May Point. Later we had more views of these striking woodpeckers at Cox Hall Creek and Conswell Road.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

A common woodpecker on the peninsula, particular in areas with big oak trees.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

A few sightings in forest and woodland edge at Cox Hall Creek, Forsythe NWR, and the Belleplain area.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

Two sightings - at Cox Hall Creek and Belleplain SF.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

One of these late migrants was a flyby at Cape May Point.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

One was chasing shorebirds at Forsythe NWR.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

These vocal flycatchers were conspicuous at Cox Hall Creek, Belleplain SF, and Higbee Beach.

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)

We tracked down these greenish breeding Empids by voice (piz-ZA!) around Belleplain State Forest.

LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)

One sang and stayed well-hidden at Cox Hall Creek.

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

Two were at a nesting spot at Belleplain SF.


These bold Myiarchus flycatchers were most conspicuous by voice, but we did track some down for some nice looks at Cox Hall Creek and other woodland sites.

EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)

These bold flycatchers were in open habitats around Cape May Point, Higbee Beach, and other sites on the peninsula.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

Heard far more often than seen, but we did have some great chances to see these noisy songbirds in dense thickets at Belleplain State Forest.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

We intercepted a few handsome migrants at Cox Hall Creek and Cape May Point.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)

These "Solitary Vireos" were in small groups at Cox Hall Creek and Higbee Beach. Usually they thin out by early May, but we saw about 7 individuals.

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

These common vireos were easy to hear but were sometimes challenging to see in the forest canopy.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

Small numbers of these handsome jays were around the peninsula.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Only a few birds vocalized ("caw!") to confirm their ID.

FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)

These small crows were conspicuously vocal around the peninsula and were more common than American Crows.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

A molting bird flew over us, croaking, at the Forsythe NWR visitor center. Raven sightings have increased dramatically here in recent years.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

Common in woodland flocks of songbirds.

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

These noisy flockers were singing and calling at many forest sites from Belleplain to Cox Hall Creek.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Just a few between the Meadows and Cape May Point SP.

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

We spent some memorable moments watching the bustling colony of dozens at Cape May Point SP. The chortling, buzzing, and whistling medley of these delightful swallows is one of the most striking sounds of spring at Cape May.

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

Small numbers were nesting at many spots we visited from Cape May Point to Forsythe NWR.

BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)

One of these band-chested migrant swallows flew right overhead at Heislerville.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Quite common and conspicuous.

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

One of these pale-rumped migrants cruised around over the Meadows with other swallows.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

We heard one calling near the lake at Belleplain SF.

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)

On each of our visits to Cox Hall Creek, we heard and saw one in the tall oaks by the parking lot.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

These tail-wagging whiners were very common at Belleplain, Cox Hall Creek, and other woodland sites.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

Just a few chattering away from edge habitats.

MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)

We heard these consistent songsters at the Meadows, Cooks Beach, and Forsythe NWR.

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Very common, especially around Cape May Point.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Common but not overwhelmingly so.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

One of the defining sounds of spring here at Cape May. Very common in woodland and second growth habitats.

BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)

One showed off fairly close to a Wood Thrush in the campground at Belleplain SF.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Common and conspicuous.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

One was in the ghost forest at Conswell Road.

VEERY (Catharus fuscescens)

We heard but had a hard time seeing one at Belleplain SF.

WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina)

A migrant arrived over the marsh at Nummy Island; we saw it hunkered down under a dense redcedar. Later, we tracked down singing birds at Belleplain SF.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Very common and vocal in most habitats with trees around Cape May.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

One flyover flock of five at Belleplain SF.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Common around people.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) [I]

Many were paired up around Cape May Point and on the barrier islands.

COMMON REDPOLL (Acanthis flammea)

One of the biggest surprises of the week. This small, streaky finch from the far north was feeding on seeds at Cape May Point SP and represented the first May record for Cape May.


Regular in small numbers, mostly as bouncy flyovers.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

A common trilling vocalist around the region; we found them frequently around Cape May Point, Belleplain, and other sites.

FIELD SPARROW (Spizella pusilla)

Most common in the dunes of Cape May Point.

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis)

Late lingering migrants were with understory flocks at Cape May Point SP, The Wetlands Institute, and Forsythe NWR.

SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima)

These big-headed sparrows belted out their buzzy songs from the saltmarsh at Cooks Beach and Forsythe NWR.

SALTMARSH SPARROW (Ammospiza caudacuta)

It took a bit of patience but we were able to catch up to a couple of these scarce, declining sparrows in the marsh along the wildlife drive at Forsythe NWR. Their orange-and-gray faces and crisp belly streaks rendered them instantly recognizable.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

Nine migrants bounced off the wildlife drive at Forsythe NWR.

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

Small numbers were around near the tip of the Cape May peninsula, but we saw and heard plenty at Forsythe NWR.

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)

A late migrant was in the fields at Higbee Beach.

EASTERN TOWHEE (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

Singles and pairs of these big, lovely sparrows were at Cape May Point, Forsythe NWR, and the Belleplain SF area.

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)


We heard two singing in the marsh-forest interface at Cape May Point SP.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

We heard a few individuals and saw one briefly in the town of Belleplain.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

The female we saw at the Ocean City Welcome Center gave us a nice show below eye level near a male Scarlet Tanager.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Very common in wetlands and fields around the peninsula.


Many were moving around in pairs and small flocks, probably scouting for nests of other songbirds in which to lay their own eggs.

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

Abundant; a common roadside and lawn bird.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

These big blackbirds are saltmarsh specialists in the Mid-Atlantic. The most impressive sighting was of the small colony in the Ocean City Welcome Center.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)

These distinctive forest warblers were heard many times in forests around the peninsula; we tracked down a few individuals at Belleplain SF for scope views.

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)

These stripe-headed warblers were trilling and chipping up a storm from the mixed woodlands of Belleplain SF.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)

We heard two at Belleplain SF.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

One of these migrants sang and chipped stealthily in the wet woods at Cox Hall Creek.

BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera)

We heard a few in the open pine-dominated woodlands north of Belleplain SF.


Quite common as migrants and breeders in the woods at Belleplain and Cox Hall Creek.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea)

Though we heard them at several locations, we had a super look at a male perched out over the road at Head of River.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

A singing bird showed briefly in the wet woods at Cox Hall Creek.

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)

One of these scarce spring migrants sang one time from the forest edge at Cox Hall Creek.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa)

This species is a rare migrant and breeder in southern New Jersey. We heard one singing at Cape May Point SP, and then tracked down a different singing male at Cox Hall Creek for extended scope views on an open perch. Beautiful and spectacular!

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

These widespread warblers were very common in many habitats visited during our week.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

It took some patience but we did get some looks at singing birds at Belleplain SF.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

These singing warblers were most common in the open woodland near Head of River and Peaslee WMA.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Our nicest views were of two singing males foraging low in the redcedars at Cape May Point SP on a cloudy day.

CERULEAN WARBLER (Setophaga cerulea)

This species is another rare migrant in Cape May. A singing male danced around with a Northern Parula for a few minutes in the oaks at Cox Hall Creek, but it was difficult to get a good look before it disappeared.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

These small, colorful warblers gave themselves away with their buzzy, rising songs at many locations. Most of the birds we found were migrants, but a few around Head of River were probably on territory.

MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)

A few lovely migrants were at Higbee Beach and Cape May Point SP.

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)

Two singing, full color males interacted next to the trail at Cox Hall Creek WMA. Super views of these migrants which are typically uncommon here both in spring and fall.


A singing male led us around on a short walking circuit before we locked on to his bright orange throat in the canopy at Cox Hall Creek.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

These familiar warblers were near the Gull Pond tower at Forsythe NWR.

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

A few migrants were in the canopy at Higbee Beach and Cox Hall Creek.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

At least two (a male and a female) were in the wet woods at Cox Hall Creek.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

These early breeders were seen best at Belleplain SF and along Weatherby Road.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

In most years, we don't see any of this early-migrating species during the tour. However, on this tour, we saw at least 10 individuals.

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica)

One of our best-dressed warblers - a few nice experiences at Belleplain SF and Weatherby Road. These are the long-billed pine-breeding birds with extra yellow in the lores.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

We found these slim tail-bobbers in the dunes of Cape May Point and also in shrubby fields.


Migrants were heard and seen regularly in the woods at Cape May Point and Cox Hall Creek; we detected about nine individuals.

CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)

We heard two singing individuals at Cox Hall Creek.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

A lovely red male sang loudly at Cox Hall Creek; later we saw more at Lily Lake, Belleplain SF, and Weatherby Road.

SCARLET TANAGER (Piranga olivacea)

Though we found singing birds in the woods on several occasions, by far the highlight sighting was of the electric red male in the treetops (below eye level!) at the Ocean City Welcome Center.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Just about everywhere on the peninsula.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

These chunky migrant songbirds were at Belleplain SF, the Ocean City Welcome Center, and Higbee Beach.

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

We saw these stout-billed songbirds best during our walk along the edges of the open fields at Higbee Beach.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Very common in edge habitats.


EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

The only bunny at Cape May; common here.


This tiny squirrel was at Belleplain SF.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

This large, pale gray squirrel was common in woodlands here.

MUSKRAT (Ondatra zibethica)

We saw this aquatic mammal a few times including on our first evening at the Meadows.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

A few sightings in the nearshore waters off Cape May Point.

AMERICAN MINK (Mustela vison)

One of these dark aquatic weasels ran and swam along some small marshy islands at Forsythe NWR.

Totals for the tour: 172 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa