Tag Archives: Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

Seeds for Spring

Fall is in full swing; leaves are falling and monarch butterflies have arrived in Mexico for the winter.   In preparation for their return, National Wildlife Refuges and Fish Hatcheries throughout the Northeast are busy as bees preparing for pollinators this coming spring. Some of the great pollinator projects happening the fall include gardens and schoolyard habitats, outreach events, and planning summer camps, but these only begin to scratch the surface of the magnitude of the efforts to conserve these iconic species. Below is a map identifying field stations in the Northeast that received pollinator seeds and materials to begin projects or continue existing projects this fall.

Like many refuges across the region, Iroquois NWR has been fervently engaged in enhancing pollinator awareness.  Not only do they perform extensive pollinator outreach, sharing with young people the miraculous journey that monarchs make each year and their fundamental role in plant reproduction, but they also host student research that focuses on the impact of habitat management actions on monarch populations. Iroquois NWR is happy to announce that late October should give rise to a new and improved garden for pollinators when visiting administrative staff from the Northeast will reclaim and enhance the space using seed donated from the Monarch Conservation Initiative.  This will allow us to expand our efforts, using it as a teaching tool and garnering more support for these invertebrates that we hold dear!

In New Jersey, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge plans to plant a pollinator garden at the Two Mile Beach Unit in Wildwood Crest this fall so that the plants are ready to burst into growth in early spring. The garden will be strategically placed along the bike path and visible from the Dune Trail so hundreds of walkers and bikers alike can easily view the area. Interpretive signage will be utilized to convey the importance and purpose of pollinator gardens and grown plants will be labeled so interested individuals can know what beneficial plants to grow in their own backyard. The chosen area is surrounded by the marshland, grassland, maritime forest, and beach habitats on the Two Mile Beach Unit so the garden will lend itself to the already diverse array of habitats and pollinators will likely seek out the area. The Refuge looks forward to being a small haven for pollinators come spring and sharing that with visitors.

At the New England Field Office, Endangered Species Biologist Susi von​ ​Oettingen​ and Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist Ted Kendziora​ are teaming up with ​​the New England Hemophilia Association ​to bring pollinators to ​NEHA’s Family Summer ​Camp ​​​​and the Geneva Point Conference Center next year. With ​​monarchs and bees on the decline, seeds will be used to create a pollinator garden with native wildflowers to benefit all pollinators. Students will have the opportunity to get hands on with seed and planting activities to create new habitat while learning the important ties these species have to agriculture and native ecosystems. The pollinator garden will be a permanent feature of the Center for visitors from other camps, conferences, school groups and special events to see and learn about.

Are you interested in helping create habitat at home or in your local community? Learn more about how you can help protect monarchs and pollinators.

Wednesday Wisdom – Rosalie Edge



Original image by Don Freiday/USFWS

Spotlighting conservationist Rosalie Edge (1877-1962) as we celebrate #WomensHistoryMonth; part of #HerStory is her legacy and leadership to establish the Pennylvania-based Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was the first privately acquired property for the sole purpose of conservation.  It was considered the model for The Nature Conservancy by one of TNC’s co-founders, Richard Pough.  Today, Hawk Mountain is visited by tens of thousands of visitors every fall to witness the migration.  The data gathered at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary about immature hawk and eagle migration were very helpful to Rachel Carson in making her case against DDT.

Rosalie Edge’s legacy energized future conservationists to restore healthy bald eagle populations and the eagle was finally delisted under Endangered Species Act protection on August 9, 2007.  Though the bald eagle was not common by the time the species nearly disappeared from most of the United States, its federal protection  was hugely instrumental in returning our “national symbol” to the skies.

The two main factors that led to the recovery of the bald eagle were the banning of the pesticide DDT and habitat protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act for nesting sites and important feeding and roost sites. This recovery could not have been accomplished without the support and cooperation of many private and public landowners. Go here for more information about the recovery and delisting of the Bald Eagle.

Don Freiday’s fabulous bald eagle image was shot at the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

A different kind of moon walk

We are lucky to have amazing friends. We’ve bragged about them here a few times. And this time is no different as John H. King with the Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, shares a narrative with us about a moon walk that the friends hosted at the refuge, a pleasing treat for visitors.  

We at Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge hosted our monthly free full moon family hike on Saturday, July 12, at the Two Mile Beach Unit in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.  As the week preceding the event progressed and the weather forecast continued to improve, we knew we could be in for an epic crowd.  Thousands of vacationers had descended on nearby Wildwood, and this particular moon would be full on exactly the evening of our Saturday walk.  Plus, this would be a “super moon,” which means the moon would be full at the time of perigee (when the moon is nearest to the earth), so we knew that if the skies stayed clear, visitors would be in for a real treat!


Visitors heading down to the beach at the beginning of the moon walk.

As it turns out, we welcomed over 100 visitors that evening, a record for any of our events. We had scheduled some free pre-walk entertainment from a local singing group, The Calamity Janes and Friends. The music was lovely and fun. Many thanks to them for joining us at no cost, and we hope they can do this again.  They played and sang a great selection of moon songs:  Blue Moon, Moondance, Moon Shadow and Moon, Moon, Moon…. all terrific choices!


The Calamity Janes and Friends playing some tunes.

Everyone on the walk saw and heard so many amazing things!  A cool breeze kept the bugs at bay, our eastern towhee appeared and sang on cue along the Dune Trail, tree crickets were trilling, we spotted gulls, terns, and osprey and we saw ghost crabs, horseshoe crabs, shells, and more on the beach. There was a high flood tide, almost covering the jetty and razor clam holes bubbled as they were covered by the incoming tide. A child asked why there are called razor clams. An older gentleman on the walk answered and described the straight razors that his grandfather used and had handed down to him.  The super moon appeared out over the ocean—shrouded and misty red on the horizon at first, like an apparition or a mirage; it rose so rapidly then blossomed into a shiny yellow wheel of cheese!


Not sure if this photo does it justice, but this was our setting on the walk.

Sailboats were offshore, a noisy pair of oystercatchers flew by and the beach was left wild and natural, untouched by the nightly raking of the nearby Wildwood “Beach Zamboni” machines. Darkness settled on us as we began our return. There were flashlights of children spotting ghost crabs everywhere as we made our way single-file down the darkened Dune Trail. The song of a single whippoorwill came from somewhere in the dark tangle of dune forest. It was such a marvelous night for a moondance!!