Raptor banders have been operating at Cape May, New Jersey since 1967. The group became incorporated in 1999 as Cape May Raptor Banding Project, Inc. (CMRBP), a 501c3 non-profit organization. As of 2018, CMRBP has captured and banded over 150,000 raptors of 16 different species during fall migration, making CMRBP the largest raptor banding project in North America and one of the largest projects in the world.
Our goal is to conduct long-term monitoring of the status and trends of migrating raptors and to analyze and disseminate this information.
Hawks usually migrate over a broad front; however, they can be concentrated by land forms such as the peninsula that creates the southern tip of New Jersey. Raptors passing through this area during the autumn migration hesitate to cross the Delaware Bay, slowing their progress, often resulting in large concentrations of birds of prey.
We conduct field operations at several raptor banding stations located within Cape May Point every autumn. Hawks are captured, banded with United States Geological Survey (USGS) bands, measured and weighed, and released unharmed. An extensive set of measurements are taken on selected species. Since the project began in 1967 through the 2018 banding season, more than 150,000 raptors have been banded. On average, we band 2,000-3,000 birds each season.
Our banding records are collected by the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory and can be made available for appropriate research projects. We also cooperate with fellow researchers by sharing data directly, making in-hand raptors available for related studies and by providing internships for field research assistants.