Winter Owls in Cape May

(From the Cape May Bird Observatory)

During three 2003-2004 South Jersey Christmas Bird Counts, dozens and dozens of Great Horned Owls "hooting" and Screech Owls "whinnying" were heard, resident Barred Owls and Barn Owls were found, Short-eared Owls were enjoyed hunting saltmarsh habitats in full daylight at dozens of locations, and even the less common northern owls were found (Northern Saw-whet Owl and Long-eared Owl).

The only owl missed during the Bird Counts was Snowy Owl.

Great Horned Owls are noisy in Cape May in the winter, since they are our earliest nesting bird and will soon be on eggs.

They have already chosen a sturdy stick nest and are vocal near it to let other Great Horned Owls know to keep their distance. This heightened activity of resident owls combined with an influx of wintering owls (from the north) makes this one of the owliest times of year!

New Jersey's Delaware Bayshore is home to countless Meadow Voles, a favorite meal of many of the owls, kind of making the area an owl supermarket from Cape May north up the Delaware Bay where tidal saltmarshes run from the bay to wild upland edges.

Annual Owl Workshop and Field Trip

CMBO's "All About Owls: Workshop & Field Trip," with Pat Sutton shares the distinctive calls of each of New Jersey's eight owls (hoot, whistle, or whinny) as well as a hands-on session with owl pellets,feathers, talons, and books on owls. Each participant becomes an owl expert!

A field trip is included to a nearby hotspot in search of owl pellets,whitewash, owls hiding by day, owls calling at dusk, and owls hunting when their day begins at last light will round out the workshop. Of course, owls aren't guaranteed. But, there is probably no better place in New Jersey to find and study owls than Cape May County in the winter.

Plan a trip for this year!



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