The Best Birding in Cape May and Lewes
Birdwatching from the Ferry and Beyond
Situated on the Atlantic Flyway, the Delaware and southern New Jersey capes offer some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the country, making them premier ecotourism destinations year-round. Expect to spot a wide variety of seabirds, songbirds, shorebirds, raptors and more. Trails are open, but be aware that some bird walks may subject to COVID-19 guidelines.
On the Ferry
Bring your binoculars when you board the Ferry; you’ll want to be ready for your close-up with osprey, herons and other waterfowl, and to catch the majesty of egrets on the wing.
Cape May Bird Observatory and the Nature Center of Cape May
An array of ocean, bay and other habitat types attracts scores of species to the Cape May Bird Observatory at Cape May Point and the Nature Center of Cape May, both operated by New Jersey Audubon (njaudubon.org). At CMBO, expert-led weekly walks are geared to birders of all experience levels. Keep those eyes to the skies as you traverse the trails and set yourself up for sightings at the bird blinds at the Nature Center of Cape May.
Every October one of the largest birding events happens right in Cape May. For 2022 the event is October 13-16 for the Cape May Fall Festival. You can register on the Cape May Festival site, and find more information. If you're a bird watcher, this is a MUST attend event.
- Cape May Bird Observatory at Cape May Point - 701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May, NJ
- Nature Center of Cape May - 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ
- Cape May Bird Observatory at Cape May Point - 609-884-2736, njaudubon.org
- Nature Center of Cape May - 609-427-3045, njaudubon.org
Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area
Follow the sounds of songs to Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, where a host of warblers (observers have reported spotting 20 different species) come to roost. The 2.9-mile loop trail includes two viewing platforms, educational signage, and lake
and sand dune habitats.
Location: New England Road, Cape May, NJ
Info: (609) 628-2103, njfishandwildlife.org
Birding By Boat on the Osprey
Birding By Boat on the Osprey offers three-hour naturalist-led cruises ($40) and two-hour wetlands wildlife safaris ($30) that take you to migration and nesting places in the salt marsh, harbor and tidal wetlands.
Location: 1212 Wilson Drive, Cape May, NJ
Info: (609) 898-3500, ospreycruise.com
Miss Chris Kayaks and Paddleboards
Paddle the local waterways searching for seasonal species in a kayak from Miss Chris Kayaks and Paddleboards. Single kayak rental is $25, plus $5 for each additional hour. Or you can join a naturalist-led two-hour morning or sunset kayak tour of Cape Island Creek ($40), and you might even spot an elusive clapper rail.
Location: Miss Chris Marina,1212 Wilson Drive, Cape May, NJ
Info: (609) 884-0997, capemaykayaks.com
Cape Henlopen State Park
All year, Cape Henlopen State Park teems with birds in its fields and pine and maritime forests, on its beaches, in its freshwater ponds, and along its miles of bay and ocean coastlines. The best place to start is at the Seaside Nature Center, where bird feeders attract many species. Then make sure you hit the Point, Herring Point, the Dune Overlook, Saltmarsh Spur and Gordon’s Pond. In the summer, piping plovers populate the beaches, common nighthawks nest in the ocean dunes and Chuck-will’s-widows inhabit the pine forest. A walk anywhere in the park is likely to yield some delightful surprise sightings.
Location: 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE
Info: (302) 645-8983, destateparks.com
Delaware Seashore State Park
More than 200 bird species have been seen at Delaware Seashore State Park in Rehoboth Beach. The best places to break out the binoculars are on the hiking trails at Indian River Inlet and Burton Island Nature Preserve.
Location: 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Info: (302) 227-6991, destateparks.com
In summer, Silver Lake (in the middle of a residential neighborhood two blocks from the ocean in Rehoboth Beach) is home to a small, cheerfully chattering group of vivid green South American monk parakeets that nest in telephone poles around the water.
Location: Lake Drive, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Burton Island Nature Preserve/Assawoman Wildlife Area
Book a tour with Coastal Kayak of Burton Island Nature Preserve or the Assawoman Wildlife Area to seek out the nesting places of bald eagles, blue heron, great egrets and red-bellied woodpeckers. $50/person.
Location: 36840 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, DE
Info: (302) 539-7999, coastalkayak.com
This listing originally appears in the Summer/Fall 2021 edition of Twin Capes Traveller, a joint travel digest produced by Today Media, Today Media Custom Communications and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Referenced places, facilities, and opportunities can change year over year, and items noted were available at time of print publication. When on board or at any of our terminals, make sure to pick up the latest edition to see more ideas of places to go and things to do while in the Delaware Bay region.