Monarch butterflies flutter into Cape May County, New Jersey, every fall. Hundreds of orange and black Monarchs cluster on cedar trees to rest from their flights. When the sun warms them, by mid-day, the Monarchs continue their migration.
The geography, west winds and diverse habitats of the Jersey Cape allow butterflies and birds to rest, eat and gather energy to finish their migration. The best time for bird watchers and butterfly lovers is between September and November, when Cape May County attracts dragonflies, butterflies and many species of birds.
The reason why Monarch butterflies migrate south to California, Florida and central Mexico is still unknown. Besides the Monarchs, more than a hundred other species of butterflies visit Cape May Between August and October.
Cape May and Cape May Point are also the best places see egrets during their annual migration. Every fall, more than 100,000 visitors come to the hawk viewing platform at Cape May Point State Park to look for egrets in the meadows where they feed.
Egrets live in Cape May County between March and September. Some birds stay for the winter, if the weather is mild. Egrets are territorial, forming colonies during the breeding season.
Members of the heron family, egrets have white plumage. Snowy egrets are large, with black bills and bright yellow legs. Bird watchers will spot them perched in shallow water looking for food.
Cattle egrets and great egrets, which have showy back plumes during mating season, also live in southern New Jersey.
The annual World Series of Birding states that 259 species of birds were sighted in the Cape May area. Up to 400 species have been seen. The Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May Point and Cape May Court House offer guided tours, programs and other special bird-watching events.
Intensive workshops are held when the quantity and diversity of bird species are at their peaks. Workshops feature several days of outdoor bird study, field trips to key birding areas around Cape May County and informative lectures.
Cape May Bird Observatory has a birding hotline (609-884-2626) with current information for bird-watchers.