Stalking Cape May's Painted Bunting

Posted 01/10/05
By Jane Kashlak
CAPE MAY, NJ– It's a quiet Sunday morning in Cape May, a little overcast, and a bit warmer than usual.

We're heading out to do our weekend errands when we decide to try our luck and see if we can get a glimpse of a rare bird visiting Cape May.

We turn onto a secluded road in Erma and find two dozen people from Philadelphia, Princeton, even the northern tip of Sussex County, NJ patiently standing in the road, waiting.

All, of course, have binoculars.

The big attraction - a colorful Painted Bunting, a bird that should, by all rights, be enjoying the warm sun of the tropics, is hanging around a backyard feeder in Cape May County.

The birders have been there for an hour or more, standing and waiting for the Painted Bunting to make an appearance at the feeder.

It's a little damp and chilly. We spend maybe five minutes - we are not the patient sorts - and leave to do our errands.

When we come back an hour later, all of the birders are walking towards us.

Not a good sign.

The bird has just been spotted. It was there and then, just as quickly, it has flown away.

In that brief moment, the people who have traveled hours and then waited hours more to see the Painted Bunting get what they came for.

We stand alone on the road, wondering what to do next.

All the cars and people are gone now. We shouldn't have left.

Then, a rustle of activity. Some cardinals start coming into the feeders. Some sparrows tag along. A few minutes later the Painted Bunting joins his newfound friends.

They're back for seconds.

We get our look and our photo. We don't even have to wait 15 minutes.

Sometimes life is good.

If you go in search of the Painted Bunting, remember the feeders are on private property. Stay on Weeks Landing Road, west of Seashore Rd in Erma. Just look for the crowd.

The Painted Bunting on bird feeder
Circled, so there is no mistake.
Here's Doyle Dowdell's more expert shot of the same Painted Bunting.



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