Conserve Wildlife Blog

Shorebirds Arrive in New Jersey’s Delaware Bay

May 9th, 2016

The Birds are Back – Red Knots Arrive Along the Bayshore

by David Wheeler, Executive Director

Photo by David Wheeler.

Photo by David Wheeler.

The 2016 mass shorebird migration is officially underway, with the thrilling spectacle of over 1,100 red knots spotted today at North Reeds Beach in Cape May County, New Jersey. A host of other shorebirds, including ruddy turnstones, dunlins, semipalmated sandpipers, and sanderlings, accompanied the red knots at this Delaware Bay hotspot.


The famished flocks fed on horseshoe crab eggs, while much larger laughing gulls congregated along the shoreline and a few crabs used the incoming waves to flip themselves over and return to the bay.

Photo by David Wheeler.

Photo by David Wheeler.

Researchers began seeing a large number of shorebirds arriving over the weekend, and today’s sightings are high for such an early date. A number of the red knots wear leg bands, with a few indicating departure points as far south as Argentina and Chile. Such lengthy migrations for those individual birds only add to the intrigue of their early-season arrivals in New Jersey.


Some red knots fly over 18,000 miles each year in their migrations from southern South America to the Canadian Arctic, with Delaware Bay serving as an irreplaceable stopover.

Photo by David Wheeler.

Photo by David Wheeler.

Yet these migratory shorebirds have suffered a sharp decline over the past few decades, with red knots dropping by around 75%. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the red knot as a federally protected threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in December 2014.


A team of international researchers and trained volunteers, led by Dr. Larry Niles, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, and the State Endangered and Nongame Species Program will spend the next month surveying and studying the at-risk shorebirds during their stay in New Jersey.

Infographic used from

Infographic used from




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David Wheeler is Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

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2 Responses to “Shorebirds Arrive in New Jersey’s Delaware Bay”

  1. Charlotte Ryan says:

    Delighted to see the new Increasing Numbers Of red knots

  2. Bill Wheeler says:

    Outstanding piece on the red knots.