In Cape May, November is the month best described by the word unsettled. November 2020 was no exception, with some unseasonably warm spells punctuated by a few very cold snaps. Leaves drop from the deciduous trees and shrubs, and the few neotropical migrants that are still around are either foolish, brave, or both. Birds that will spend the winter here start to pour in -- it's a peak month for waterfowl and seed-eating songbirds. And always a few surprises.
The arrival of Evening Grosbeaks (above) into Cape May during November caused a lot of excitement; these big, northern finches are rarely seen here.
Several other species vary in numbers from year to year. In 2020 there were plenty of Pine Siskins (top), Purple Finches (female above, male below left), and Red-breasted Nuthatch (below).
Raptors are still on the move in November. Clockwise from upper left: Merlin, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk
The migration of monarch butterflies through Cape May usually ends in late October, but in 2020 we continued to see monarchs through much of November. Nectar is scarce in November, however, so the two honeybees, above, had to wait until the monarchs were finished at these camelia flowers. Other butterflies also lingered into November, including American Lady, middle left, and Cloudless Sulphur, bottom left.
Birds can't count on many insects remaining active in November, however, so most bug-eaters have migrated away. The Yellow-rumped Warbler, above center, switches its diet from insects to small fruits, such as those of poison ivy, above right.
Year-round residents also switch to fruits, including Northern Mockingbird, above left, and the birds below, left to right:
Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, and American Goldfinch.
American Black Duck
A November scene at Cape May Point State Park