Mark Faherty

Mark Faherty writes the Weekly Bird Report.

Mark has been the Science Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary since August 2007 and has led birding trips for Mass Audubon since 2002. While his current projects involve everything from oysters and horseshoe crabs to bats and butterflies, he has studied primarily bird ecology for the last 20 years, working on research projects in Kenya, Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest. He was a counter for the famous River of Raptors hawk watch in Veracruz, Mexico, and has birded Africa, Panama, Belize, and both Eastern and Western Europe. Mark is an emcee and trip leader for multiple birding festivals and leads workshops on birding by ear, eBird, birding apps, and general bird identification. He is past president of the Cape Cod Bird Club and current member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.

Mark Faherty

What has a forked tail and catches flies? In reality, there are several bird species that fit this description, but this week in this place there’s only one right answer - the super-rare Fork-tailed Flycatcher.

Chad Horwedel / https://bit.ly/2EAVGzq

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, bird song in your neighborhood has been steadily picking up over the last several weeks. Bird hormones are surging in response to the lengthening days, producing a variety of behavioral and physiological changes to prepare them for breeding season, including ever lustier singing. So I want to take this opportunity to offer an early spring tune-up for your birding ears, because once the long distance songbird migrants come flooding back next month, the degree of difficulty will be much higher.

Mark Faherty

If you feed the birds, then you may be feeding more birds than you had bargained for. Because where there are lots of birds, there are birds that eat birds. You might not be aware of the carnage, but if you look closely, you may see the telltale signs of bird on bird violence in your backyard.

Patty O'Hearn Kickham / http://bit.ly/2FX4PDT

With the weather forecast having become a skipping record of weekly Nor’easters, and temps below freezing every morning, yesterday’s arrival of astronomical spring does little but mock us. But as always, nature offers signs of hope if you know where to look and especially if you how to listen.

Backyard Birds

Mar 14, 2018
Mark Faherty

With yet another storm hammering the Cape and trapping us indoors, I suppose we should talk about the underappreciated art of feeder watching.

Jean-Jacques Boujot

While we still seem to be dodging the bullet of a late winter blizzard, things have been uncommonly stormy this past week, to say the least. East-facing beaches have once again been been pounded, over-washed, and leveled by nearly 80 mph winds and 20+ foot seas conspiring with the already super high monthly tides.

Mark Faherty

The weather has been delightfully mild, and the forecasted temperatures through mid-March are all supposed to be above freezing. Could winter be over? Before you try to reach through your radio to punch me in the face for jinxing it, please hear me out. 

Mark Faherty

When it comes to late winter on Cape Cod, and the knowledge that beach weather is still four months away, it’s the little signs of better things to come that keep you going. If you are paying attention to the birds around you every day, you should be brimming with hope, because they clearly are, too.

Lutz Koch / http://bit.ly/2nZnS9J

So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Do you have a plan? Hopefully by now you have secured reservations at the finest bistro and obtained the heart-meltingest card money can buy. If not, you may need some help.

LIKEADUCK BIT.LY/2LNHAOU / BIT.LY/1DSEPQQ

Have you heard of “bird feeder fight club”? If not, that’s probably because I just made it up. But it totally could be a real thing, according to scientists using Cornell’s vast Project FeederWatch data set.

Superb Owl

Jan 31, 2018
mpclemens bit.ly/2DMdJD7

Are you ready for the Superb Owl? While you Stephen Colbert fans and meme-savvy denizens of Facebook are already rolling your eyes, and saying things like “that’s so four years ago”, you may be surprised to know how many people are unfamiliar with the Superb Owl. 

A Goose by Many Names

Jan 24, 2018
Mark Faherty

If I asked you how many species of geese were on the Cape and Islands right now, what would you say? One, maybe two? The actual number this week is five, with seven species on the all-time list. This may surprise those only familiar with that perceived scourge of golf course and ballfield, the Canada Goose. I’ll get to the obscure species in a minute, but I want to start with the Canada. 

Mathew Schwartz bit.ly/2Drno5v

Normally, this is when we would be settling in for the coldest, darkest depths of winter, and going into our post-holiday cocoons. January and February are the months of snowstorms and of binge-watching Netflix. But having just survived the equivalent of five winters worth of cold over two weeks, temps in the 30s and 40s now feel like shorts weather, and you may be looking to get outside. 

Birds and Deep Freezes

Jan 10, 2018
budgora goo.gl/YuaAZB / goo.gl/cefU8

 

The Truro Christmas Bird Count was held on a frigid January 2, when more than 30 hardy birders braved subzero wind chills to find even hardier birds among the thickets, fields, beaches, and marshes of Wellfleet and Truro. A handful of us were foolish enough to venture out in the deepest predawn cold in search of owls, finding a bare minimum of Northern Saw-whet, Eastern Screech, and Great Horned Owls, barely audible above the wind gusts at times. 

 

Mark Faherty

 

Last week I promised the results of the Mid-Cape Christmas Bird Count, so we’ll start there. This count, which covers an area from Sandwich to Dennis, was held back on the 23rd, on a relatively balmy, rainy day, before we had gotten used to single-digit morning temperatures as the new normal.

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