The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Work with us next autumn!

We are currently accepting applications for our seasonal Field Technician position.  The job description is below.  Please pass this along to a young biologist, naturalist, or educator who might like to join our team.

Position: Field Technician, Monarch Monitoring Project
Departments: Research and Education
Location: Cape May, New Jersey
Reports to: CMBO Program Director and MMP Director
Job Classification: Fulltime Seasonal

Job Description: FIELD TECHNICIAN for ongoing MONARCH MONITORING PROJECT at New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, Cape May, New Jersey September 1 to October 31. Cape May is renowned as one of the world's great hot spots for migration. NJA fosters the application of sound scientific principles and practices to address conservation issues related to vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, and the natural habitats with which they are associated.

Daily road censuses of migrating Monarchs
Monarch tagging
Data entry
Educating the public about the project and Monarch biology

Experience interacting with the public and excellent interpersonal skills
Enthusiastic and motivated self-starter who is also a strong team player
•      Familiarity with insect ecology a plus, but not required
Willingness to work irregular hours
Careful data collecting and entry skills
Must have own vehicle and a valid driver’s license

Start Date: September 1, 2015 Ending Date: October 31, 2015

Salary: $900/month; housing and reimbursement for gas provided

Application Deadline: July 15, 2015

Please send cover letter of interest, resume, and three references (including email and phone contact info) to Mike Crewe, NJ Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, Northwood Center, 701 East Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ 08212, or email:

The New Jersey Audubon Society (NJ Audubon) is a privately supported, not-for profit, statewide membership organization. Founded in 1897, and one of the oldest independent Audubon societies, NJ Audubon is not connected with the National Audubon Society. NJ Audubon is an equal opportunity employer (EOE).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

World Series of Birding Results

The largest source of funding for the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project (MMP) comes from the annual World Series of Birding, a fundraising event run by New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory.  Many of us who are involved with the MMP participate on a team we call the "Monarchists."  We have 24 hours to search for birds around Cape May, traveling only by foot or bicycle, competing for the "Carbon Footprint Award."

Birders from the Monarchists team at the South Cape May Meadows.

Our luck wasn't too good this year, and even though we won in 2013 and 2014, this year our total of 111 species fell short of the winning total by 15.  Still, we had a nice day in the field and we have raised a good amount of money to support our monarch butterfly research and education project.  You can read about our efforts on this web page:

There's still time to add your support.  Learn how at the website above, or just visit the Monarchists page on the event website,, where you can make a contribution online.

Thanks to all who have supported the Monarch Monitoring Project through contributions, whether in support of our World Series of Birding team, at the tagging demos in the fall, or through other contributions sent throughout the year.

Our field season starts up on September 1 each year, watch for frequent updates to this blog once our work begins again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Monarchists to Raise Funds at World Series of Birding

On May 9, 2015, dozens of teams of birders will head out into the field to find as many species of birds as possible, each team raising funds for a conservation cause.  Again this year a team known as the Monarchists will be raising money for the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project.

The team is comprised of active and former volunteers with the MMP.  We compete in the "Carbon Footprint" category, traveling without the use of any motorized vehicle, searching for birds around Cape May traveling only by bicycle or foot.  In 2013 and 2014 we were the winners in this category!

The real winners, however, are the monarch butterflies.  The World Series of Birding is the largest source of funding for the Monarch Monitoring Project.  We ask all fans of our project to learn about this event and to help us raise money to support our research and education efforts, either by spreading the word and/or by making a direct contribution.  See all the details online here:  Please share this link with others who care about monarchs.  Many thanks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Saturday, November 1, 2014

End of Season

Seaside goldenrod is down to its last few flowers, and the monarchs are
gone from the dunes at Cape May Point.  It's starting to look like winter.

It's Saturday, November 1, and the two-month field season for the Monarch Monitoring Project is finished.  For the last 61 days we have conducted our driving census several times each day, providing us with a snapshot of how this year's migration compares to previous years.  We will analyze these data during the off season, but you can see the raw data on our website here.

No monarchs were counted on yesterday's final censuses.  This is as it should be, the monarchs need to be further south by the end of October.  Many have been seen arriving at the monarch reserves in Mexico in recent days.

It's been a terrific field season for our project.  Monarch numbers were up from last year.  Fundraising success in recent years allowed us to hire two assistants this year, and we offer heartfelt thanks to Lindsey Brendel and Angela Demarse for their great work.  We'll miss you here in Cape May and we hope you'll be back soon.

Lindsey Brendel
Angela Demarse

The field season is over, but the work of the Monarch Monitoring Project continues throughout the year.  Now we must assemble all the data from the field season, send all our tagging data to Monarch Watch, and analyze the results of our field season.  Early next year we'll begin preparations for the 2015 field season, we'll work to raise funds for the coming season, and we'll watch for reports of tag recoveries, hoping that a few of the monarchs we tagged this autumn will be found in Mexico or elsewhere along the migratory route.  The frequency of posts to our blog will drop dramatically, but we promise to post promptly if we learn of any tag recoveries.

Thanks to all who have made contributions to sponsor our project.  Thanks to all who have come to our tagging demos or engaged our staff in conversations while we were working in the field.  And thanks to all who are working to project these remarkable butterflies, whether planting a butterfly garden, supporting legislation, educating others, and/or visiting the monarch reserves in Mexico.  You are all part of our team.

Tagging demo, October 3, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monarchs Still Migrating

Female monarch THW 569

The monarch pictured above has already made impressive headway on her journey south.  With frost already having hit northern New Jersey, Delia Smith brought this female monarch that she had reared, 155 miles south, from Wagner Farms Arboretum to Cape May Point.  In a chance meeting with one of our field technicians, Delia's monarch was tagged before it was released in the Triangle Park this afternoon.  This female now sports the tag code THW 569, and we have the highest hopes that she will continues a successful migration southward, and hopefully be recovered along her journey.  

Delia shared with our team that she is in her final semester, studying landscape architecture at Temple University.  She also shared that she educates and advocates for the use of native plants in landscaping.  In saying this, Delia is already a volunteer for the Monarch Monitoring Project.  The importance of using of backyard and public space as a place for butterfly gardening and wildlife habitat is something that our team shares with visitors every day.  

Chrysalis in Triangle Park.
In doing our field work, we see far fewer chrysalides outdoors than we do caterpillars.  Today, we did spot one in the Triangle Park.  It is at the end of the walkway, (where you can turn right and walk toward the benches and picnic table), nestled in the morning glory.

It is late in the season, but monarch butterflies and caterpillars are still being seen all over the point.  There are still unhatched eggs on the tropical milkweed in Triangle Park.  The monarch life cycle, (from egg to adult butterfly) takes about one month.  The chances of these eggs becoming successful migratory butterflies is slim. Monarchs are tropical butterflies and don't have the adaptation to withstand freezing temperatures, so the first heavy frost will kill any eggs or caterpillars.  

The unhatched monarch eggs laid on tropical milkweed are pushing the limits of the fall migration.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Recapture named TJA 034

Yesterday we found this tagged Monarch with the tag number TJA 034. Currently we don't believe this code is one of our own. This is exciting news! It means that we've likely found a tag from a different tagging effort. Who knows how far away this Monarch may have flown from? It was quite worn so I would guess it has come quite a ways. Only time will tell!

Once we find out where it was tagged, we'll learn more about Monarch migration routes, and pace if migration. We can hopefully answer some questions like: Where do the Monarchs migrating through Cape May come from? How quickly were those Monarchs moving? How long has it been travelling, and how has that contributed to its level of wear? This is what our project is all about, and I'm very excited to hear more news of our little friend.

We will report this to Monarch Watch and in due time they post a summary of all of the year's recaptures. But we get enthusiastic about recaptures and would like to speed up the process. So if you know of any other groups or individuals who are tagging, please share this post (or the one from our facebook page, Cape May Monarchs) so that we can reach out to the lucky taggers more quickly.