Did you know the Delaware Bay is one of the most significant shorebird migration sites in the world? In fact, the region prides itself on having the second-highest concentration of shorebirds in North America! On any journey, it’s not unusual to spot shore birds such as Osprey, Red Knots, Gannets, and Egrets. The ferry is a favorite among birders as a place to see many of these East Coast migrating birds.
We have an osprey family builds their nest in the same exact spot every year at our Lewes Terminal. The family has left for the winter, but they should be back next year and we have live camera coverage when they are in Lewes. The best view to catch them is from the second deck of the ferry as you approach the Lewes dock.
You can catch Bald Eagles all year near the Delaware Bay! They are seafood lovers who catch their prey with their talons while swooping down near the water. Their wingspan can stretch to over 7 feet and can live to roughly 20 years old!
Fun Fact: Bald Eagles have been known to fly across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Europe! Talk about a long journey!
This medium-sized shorebird breeds in the far north of Canada, Europe, and Russia. The oldest recorded Red Knot was 15 years old. The Red Knot population along the Delaware Bay is slowly decreasing because of the limited food source our waters provide them. Their preferred food source is horseshoe crab eggs but it has become increasingly harder for these birds to find enough to sustain their hunger.
These birds blend into the sand so they can be hard to spot along the shoreline. Plovers eat freshwater and marine invertebrates that wash up on shore. Generally, Piping Plovers arrive on breeding sites in early spring and begin nesting and egg-laying around May. Each mother will typically lay 3 to 4 eggs per season.
Fun Fact: Did you know that nesting piping plovers are federally protected? That means there’s no touching allowed!
Local Birding Spots
Delaware Bay: On the ferry!
Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park is a perfect spot for birders to experience a unique perspective, with 360-degree views from their lookout tower. This park is directly left of the Lewes Terminal and includes paths for biking and walking, with wetlands, beaches, and wooded areas. Cape Henlopen is also a direct path for birds to migrate to in the spring. It is not uncommon to see multiple nests along the walking trail.
New Jersey: The New Jersey Audubon Society is a great resource for all birders, offering nature lovers the opportunity to hone their skills with birding programs, maps and more. In Cape May, Higbee Beach remains a gorgeous location for birders to watch migrating birds. The fields, trails, and swamps are where you will find most bird watchers. This one and a half mile stretch of beach on the Delaware Bay is comprised of 6 different locations, with Hidden Valley being one of the most popular bird watching sites.
1.) Bring Binoculars on board with you! Keep a lookout on the second deck while you travel with us. Our captains will announce when they see wildlife while crossing.
2.) Do not disturb the nests and make sure to watch these beautiful birds from a distance.
3.) Feel free to take photos! Captains will announce when we are approaching the Lewes Terminal so you will have time to get your camera out to take a peek at the Osprey Nest (when the Osprey family is in town).
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry provides one of the best views for nature lovers to experience wildlife from a new vantage point. This is a great activity for families with children young and old! With unique views on either side of the Bay, you’ll have to join us on board to experience them all! For more information and fun facts regarding Delaware Bay wildlife check out our website!