Jim Rapp, our birding instructor is a naturalist and tireless promoter of nature and heritage travel experiences on the Delmarva Peninsula. He has nearly 30 years of birding experience, which is evident in the vast knowledge he possesses. He joined us on September 29th for Bayside Institute’s Fall Migrating Birds class, before hustling off to prepare for the Delmarva Birding Weekend, which he co-chairs. I always look forward to his class, as I know many of our birding residents do, because he brings so much passion and excitement with him.

For any one of our seasonal birding classes, Jim has probably begun by driving three hours to Bayside from Baltimore to begin a slew of talks, outings, kayaking trips, meetings and more, throughout the peninsula. He arrives, and immediately the room is filled with energy and excitement surrounding birds. Complete with a scope, slides filled with beautiful photography, and sounds, Jim delivers this birding talk with the most passion of any instructor I have ever encountered. The Delmarva Peninsula is a fascinating place for birders due to the “funnel effect” of the land, coastal location, woodlands, and seasonality. Lucky for us, Bayside is located right in the middle of it.


Jim first covers birds you may have recently seen – Ospreys, Laughing Gulls, Prothonotary Warblers, and more. Then, he dives in to birds you will see in the upcoming season. This fall, keep your eyes open for fall migrants like Northern Harrier Hawks, Peregrine Falcons (the fastest bird in flight on the planet), Yellow Rumped Warblers (also called Butter Butts), and Golden Crowned Kinglets. These migrants will join the resident Bald Eagles, Black Ducks, Herring Gulls, and Vultures. Each time Jim flips to the next slide, he begins with “Oh! The (insert bird species here)… this is one of my favorites!” with genuine appreciation. Each time he says this, he begins to catch himself as he is about to finish his exclamation, and often says, “I have to stop saying each bird is my favorite!”

Although, I myself am not a birder, Jim has shared so much passion and excitement with us during the Bayside Institute birding classes, that I now look forward to counting the different birds I see as I walk through the beautiful, coastal state parks in our area, even if I can’t identify them.

Jim recommends Assateague State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park as great places to go birdwatching.