CAPE MAY, NJ – If you love birds, there is no place like Cape May in the spring.
New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory Spring Festival begins Thursday, May 17, at 5 pm, with a kick-off party at Harry’s Oceanfront Bar and Grille at the Montreal Beach Resort. Spring Festival continues through Sunday with an array of exciting walks and talks every day. The theme is “So. Many. Birds.”, and that’s how many you can see!
Whether you are a novice or experienced birder, or just want to see what all the excitement is about, the Spring Festival offers something for everyone. It’s the perfect opportunity to see So. Many. Birds. as you explore the best of the region’s birding opportunities. Cape May has been named a world’s best destination for bird watching by National Geographic magazine.
(For details visit https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/lists/activities/best-places-to-see-birds-world-birding-destinations/.)
Registration at the Spring Festival includes bird walks with New Jersey Audubon’s naturalists, as well as indoor programs, both educational and entertaining. Three-day registration is $185; daily registration is $69. There are also excursions at an additional cost, such as boat trips and small group walks, with the best of the best in birding expertise.
During the festival, attendees can pack their schedule with walks in a variety of habitats. Explore legendary birding hot spots in Cape May, such as Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and The Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows.
Don’t miss a new spot this year: The Nature Conservancy’s Garrett Family Preserve on Cape Island Creek. Think colorful warblers, tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, and maybe a Red-headed Woodpecker. You never know what else you will find.
Just up the road is Cox Hall Creek WMA, another hot spot for wood warblers, woodpeckers, and ducks of many kinds.
Birders will also find success a bit farther to the north, along Route 47, called Shorebird Alley, to Cook’s Beach and Reed’s Beach, up to Belleplain State Forest, and then all the way to Cumberland County for the shorebird-filled Heislerville WMA impoundments. All of these hot spots are less than an hour's drive from Cape May.
The roads off Route 47 lead to some of the best locations for viewing Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs along the Delaware Bayshore. Make sure you register for the Spring Festival and join one of the trips that start from Reed’s Beach every day at 1:30 pm, right around high tide.
In addition to the best in bird and wildlife viewing experiences, the festival offers exciting evening programs. On Friday, May 18, make sure to join other bird lovers at the Grand Hotel downstairs ballroom from 4:30-5:30 pm for snacks and music by the Magnolia Street String Band.
And then Cape May's own Mark Garland will offer a presentation about the “Birds of The World,” with prizes galore. This fun event is included in registration, and is for registrants and volunteers only.
This year, New Jersey Audubon also welcomes the return of John Kricher, author of the New Neotropical Companion, as keynote speaker on Saturday night. His talk, “The Trade Off,” is a wide-ranging discussion of the lives, ecology, and natural history of long-distance migrant passerine birds, such as the orioles, tanagers, thrushes, flycatchers, and wood-warblers.
Kricher will discuss factors that have likely resulted in many species adapting to long-distance migration, and the costs and benefits that ensue. This event, as well as several other activities, is open to the public with a fee to support New Jersey Audubon.
For more information about the Spring Festival , or to register and choose your activities, visit https://njaudubon.org/nja-events/cape-may-spring-festival/