Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
nother renowned birding complex of American birding hotspots consists of a series of coastal woods and marshes along the southeastern tip of New Jersey, between the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. During spring and fall, waves of songbirds, raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds migrate by some days, and single species counts can number in the hundreds of thousands during a good morning! More than 400 species have been recorded at this rare bird magnet, and birders can find more than 120 species on a good migration day, including more than 30 species of warblers and 14 species of birds of prey. Famous birding locations like Cape May Meadows, Higbee Beach and Cape May State Park -- site of the official raptor watch -- are located on the southernmost peninsula of New Jersey.
Reeds Beach, known for its shorebird and gull concentrations, is a "must-see" location during mid-May. Nearby, birders are beginning to explore Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, one of the newest refuges in the United States. Belleplain State Forest is a favorite location to find migrant and nesting songbirds, including a wonderful variety of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, orioles and tanagers. Just north of Atlantic City is another tourist hotspot -- Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge -- where birders enjoy year-round concentrations of birds, although spring, fall and winter stand out most. Wintering flocks of Snow Geese, Brant, Canada Geese, a variety of ducks and Tundra Swans are seen during the winter; while spring and fall are heralded by expansive flocks of shorebirds, plus gulls, terns, wading birds and songbirds.
View a Bird Checklist for this region:
Airline contacts and car rentals are not convenient, and you must operate out of Philadelphia or Atlantic City. The drive is worth it though, and there are a variety of accommodations available in Cape May, varying from convenience motels to Victorian bed-and-breakfast hotels. Contact Cape May Bird Observatory (609) 884-2736; Cape May NWR (609) 463-0994; Forsythe NWR (609) 652-1665.
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