With family roots that go back several generations, Tom Reed is one of few birders who truly calls Cape May County, NJ home. He discovered birds at a young age and was immediately captivated by the spectacle of migration visible from his Reed’s Beach backyard– be it Red Knots departing for the Arctic on late-May evenings, or Sharp-shinned Hawks bounding along the bayshore treeline after an October cold front. Tom started a hawk migration count along Delaware Bay at the age of 11 and has been actively involved in Cape May’s birding community ever since.
TR has traveled throughout much of North America since graduating from Rutgers University in 2011, with assignments ranging from wintering Piping Plover surveys in the Bahamas, to breeding bird atlas work in Wisconsin, to guidework in Alaska, and naturally, several fall seasons at Cape May. He has also appeared at various local and national birding events and represented CMBO in Israel’s Champions of the Flyway competition on three occasions. Tom is editor of the Cape May Annual Bird Report, founded and compiles the Mizpah Christmas Bird Count, and was a two-term member of the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.
Tom has invested well over 10,000 hours monitoring bird migration across all seasons at Cape May and was instrumental in the creation of CMBO’s Migration Count Coordinator position in 2015. Not surprisingly, his favorite birding takes place in wide-open spaces: oceans, grasslands, deserts, marshes, and anywhere visible migration occurs.
- How and when did you get started in birding?
- What was it like to grow up birding in Cape May?
- You did a Big year in 2011, and had the top NJ List. Tell us about this please.
- Involvement with the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II from 2016-19.
- You are currently the Cape May Bird Observatory, Migration Count Coordinator.
- History of the Migration Count Coordinator position, and what your responsibilities as Migration Count Coordinator entail?
- You’re the Author of Cape May Annual Bird Report, a 60,000-word document that reviews and memorializes the area’s birdlife each year and is the only publication of its kind in North America.
- Your role with the electronic point data entry system at migration count sites.
- Projects that focus on non-avian migration monitoring?
- Monitor moths and bats?
- Visible migration (“vismig”) the importance of migration monitoring as a tool for studying bird populations?
- Biggest challenges in sustaining bird migration counts and related long-term projects?
- CMBO’s migration count data? Websites that bring together migration data from other places?
- Regional coordinator for the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology eBird Regional Data Coordinator for New Jersey.
- The new Cape May Spring watch.
- The 1st annual NJ Young Birders Conference this year
- What advice do you have for young people who are interested in birds and natural history?
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