Fall migration in Cape May

1519 October, 2023

We travel to Cape May, New Jersey, for the heart of fall migration. This is an excellent time for hawks, sparrows, returning seaducks and northeast specialists like Purple Sandpiper, Great Cormorant and more. Cape May itself has much to offer, and is among the most famous birding spots and migration meccas in the world.

This fall migration tour is built around raptor, songbird, seabird, and monarch migration with field trips and workshops on each. We will be guided by raptor expert and Ornitherapy author Holly Merker, and we will also learn from staff at Cape May Bird Observatory and Cellular Tracking Technologies. 

  • Fall migration tour Cape May
  • Fall migration tour Cape May
  • Fall migration tour Cape May
  • Fall migration tour Cape May
  • Fall migration tour Cape May
  • Fall migration tour Cape May

Number of days/nights: 5 days / 4 nights

Starting: 10/15/2023, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) (airport pick-up scheduled at 1 pm)

Finishing: 10/19/2023, Philadelphia International Airport  (PHL) (airport drop-off scheduled at 11 am)

10/15/2023: Arrival at PHL and transfer to Cape May

10/16-18/2023: Field trips and classroom sessions in Cape May

10/19/2023: Transfer to PHL and departure


1:00 pm: Pick-up at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) for all guests; depart immediately for Cape May.

Mid to late afternoon at hawk watch platform, orientation to the state park; walk trails from platform.

Check-in to hotel.

Dinner nearby.


7:009:00 am: Field trip: Morning flight at Higbee with Glen Davis

10:00 am12:00 pm: Field trip: Hawk ID with Holly Merker, at site of choice

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:303:00 pm: Monarch Demo with CMBO representative

3:15 pm: Back to hotel for downtime, walk the beach, edit photos, etc.

5:00 pm: Classroom session: Hawk ID with Holly Merker

6:30pm: Dinner


7:009:00 am: Field trip: Avalon Seawatch with Holly Merker and seawatch counter

10:00 am12:00 pm: Field trip: Hawk ID with Holly Merker at site of choice

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:302:30 pm: Field trip: Songbird banding demo at SCMM (Meadows) 

2:303:30 pm: Follow demo with walk of the SCMM 

5:00 pm: Classroom session: Shorebird/seabird tracking with Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT)

6:30 pm: Catered dinner at CTT


7:009:00 am: Morning Flight at Coral Ave. with Glen Davis

10:00 am–12:00 pm: Classroom: Raptor migration talk (TBD Holly or  CTT)

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:305:30 pm: Open afternoon birding. Unstructured to allow for impromptu rarity chase, or visit to Forsyth NWR, or more hawkwatching, depending on what conditions suggest is best.

6:30 pm: Dinner


7:009:00 am: Birding at Higbee Beach or the Meadows

9:15 am: Transfer to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

11:00 am: Drop-off at PHL for return flights

When: 15–19 October, 2023
Where: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL): Pick-up 10/15 at 1pm, Drop-off 10/19 at 11am
How Much: $2,500 in double occupancy
Single Supplement: $450.00


  • 4 hotel nights.
  • 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 until breakfast until day 5, including non-alcoholic beverages during meals.
  • Local private transportation to and from sites visited.
  • Airport transfers: Pick-up at PHL airport 10/15 at 1pm. Drop-off at PHL airport 10/19 at 11am.
  • All guiding fees for tour leaders and local guides.
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary.
  • All activities as described in the itinerary.
  • Donations to CMBO, CTT, and local conservation program.

Not included:

  • Transportation from your home to and from start/end point (Philadelphia International Airport).
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Items such as (but not limited to) laundry service, room service, phone calls, toiletries, souvenirs etc.
  • No insurance is included. We do strongly recommend you get your own travel, cancellation, and medical insurance.
  • Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service.

Terms & Conditions >>

Group size

  • Participants: min. 6 – max. 16
  • Guides: 1 – 2 (if over 7 participants)
  • ABA reps: 1 


  • Birds & Monarch migration: Focused especially on hawks, morning songbird flight, Avalon seawatch & tail end of Monarch migration.

Birding pace

  • Moderate pace
  • Mix of field time to witness migration in action, complemented by both indoor and outdoor classroom settings.
  • Meals: breakfasts and lunches are a mix of grab/go, picnic style with indoor dinners at restaurants or maybe catered.

Photography opportunities

  • Medium to good.
  • Much depends on weather, but emphasis is on learning about migration.
  • Photography will be opportunistic and not the main thrust of this migration workshop. 

Physical difficulty

  • Easy to moderate.
  • No rigorous hiking, but some prolonged walks or bouts of standing while searching for birds.
  • Early mornings are perhaps the most trying aspect, as we’ll be up at or before dawn daily. We try to finish dinner by 8:30-9:00 pm each night. 

This tour is organized in collaboration with our local partner Hillstar Nature.

All photos ©George Armistead.