Delaware Bay Estuary Project
Northeast Region

Twin Capes
Cape May, New Jersey to Cape Charles, Virginia

cape may

twin capes map

Bird migration along the mid-Atlantic coast is a spectacular phenomenon, which consists of millions of birds each spring and fall. Hundreds of species are involved, from tiny Golden-crowned Kinglets, to shorebirds, to waterfowl, to powerful Peregrine Falcons. Some bird species, such as the Blackpoll Warbler, travel from breeding grounds in Canada to wintering areas in South America. They are called neo-tropical migrants. Others, such as many species of sparrows, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, travel from Canada but remain in the United States.

The Twin Capes area is one of the most important migratory stopovers in the world. Due to the orientation and funnel-like shape of the two peninsulas, migratory songbirds and raptors become concentrated along the coast and at the tips during migration. They are able to rest and feed in this area, sometimes for several days, before continuing their migration. In spring, birds move northward, using the coast as an important landmark for their journey.

The biggest threat to migratory birds is loss of habitat due to development and other alterations. Habitat reduction has led to population declines in many species. Migratory birds rely on the fact that there is appropriate habitat along their route. Habitat in the Twin Capes vicinity supplies critical stopover areas where birds can rest and feed before their demanding journey. Like colorful clockwork, this area is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds, monarch butterflies, and thousands of raptors cluster at the tips of the peninsulas. This spectacular event can be easily observed at a number of locations.

peregrine flacon
Soaring Peregrine Falcon


Last updated: July 18, 2012

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