Raptor Banding in Cape May, NJ

Last week, Great Hollow’s executive director and licensed bird bander, Chad Seewagen and his brother Eric, also a licensed bird bander, traveled down to Cape May, New Jersey to help out with the Cape May Raptor Banding Project and enjoy the spectacle of fall migration in this world-renowned birding area. The geography of New Jersey funnels southbound migrating birds of prey (raptors) into the Cape May peninsula, where they become highly concentrated because of their reluctance to fly over the water that lies ahead of them. Flying across large expanses of open water requires lots of flapping and consumes precious energy because of the lack of thermal updrafts on which raptors prefer to more effortlessly soar. This makes Cape May the perfect place in which to monitor population sizes of migrating birds. As they deliberate what to do and linger in the area, they become easy targets for capture and marking, and the collection of other important data. The all volunteer-led Cape May Raptor Banding Project has been doing this to monitor the long-term status and trends of migrating raptors for more than 50 years. Licensed bird banders from around the country flock to Cape May each fall to volunteer their time towards this long-running, important effort.

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