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

Shoreline swarms of seabirds known as shearwaters have long-time Cape birders searching their vocabularies for superlatives in recent weeks. If you’ve been on a whale watch recently, especially out of Provincetown, you may also have noticed the impressive shearwater flocks blanketing the in-shore waters along both Long Point and Race Point.

Michele Lamberti

The small sandpipers known as “peeps” are the bane of beginning beach birders everywhere. Easily overlooked as they scurry around on beaches and mudflats, these mousy, gray-brown shorebirds seem to offer little to the casual observer of birds. But taking the time to sort through them can bring fame and fortune to anyone with the requisite patience and aptitude. O-K, maybe not fortune, but two local birders did earn some serious bragging rights recently thanks to their sharp eyes and their peep knowledge.

Richard Bonnett goo.gl/p63Bnq / goo.gl/cefU8

Are there monsters in your barn? For property owners on the Outer Cape, the answer in recent years has increasingly been “yes.” I’m talking about categorically ugly, hissing, projectile vomiting monsters. But don’t call the Ghostbusters just yet, because these monsters have an important role to play in our ecosystem. They are Turkey Vultures, and they are nature’s morticians.

JessicaLee-Photography goo.gl/bQbFsA / goo.gl/cefU8

Some reverse snow birds are visiting the Cape from Florida this week. Two White Ibises have taken up a temporary residence at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, representing only the fifth ever record for the Cape and Islands.

doevos bit.ly/2uvu4dr / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

As we pass the midpoint of meteorological summer and start that accelerating roll to Labor Day, it’s time to check in on what’s happening out there in the bird world.

I will admit that I routinely neglect our South Coast friends in my bird reports, but not this time. And that’s because something unusual is afoot (or should I say a-wing?) at the famed Gooseberry Island in Westport.

Mark Faherty

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a world champion in town, and I don’t mean that Brady and Belicheck are visiting their respective Cape and Islands summer homes. The world champion of all animal migration has made an improbable visit to the outer beaches of Cape Cod. 

It’s that time of year when babies and other youngsters are suddenly all over the place. And I’m not just talking about your visiting grand kids or your wife’s cousin’s kids. Baby birds are also everywhere now, livening up our beaches, woodlands, and especially our backyards with their awkward antics.

marneejill bit.ly/2snpmuS / bit.ly/1dsePQq

As I sit down to write this week’s bird report on the 4th of July, I feel compelled to address our most patriotic of birds – the Bald Eagle. “Isn’t that a little 'on the nose,' bird guy?” you are probably saying. Yes, yes it is. But it is not without relevance to Cape Cod, where our national symbol is back after many decades of absence.

Tom Murray bit.ly/2sjqq20 / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

Last week I participated in one of the oldest and most important citizen science projects in all of ornithology, the venerable Breeding Bird Survey. At this time of year, volunteers all over North America are participating in this survey, covering over 4000 individual routes.

Mark Faherty

It’s June on Cape Cod, which means that it’s time for people to start squawking a little louder about Piping Plovers. These small, sand-colored local residents have been nesting on our beaches for eons, but in modern times they have come into conflict with certain forms of human recreation, and as a result have become “fauna non grata” among some people. And for those us who work to monitor and protect these federally Threatened birds, this negative perception of plovers can make for some bad days at work.

Lip Kee bit.ly/2rt6PM6 / bit.ly/1dsePQq

You may have heard me talk about those marauding avian pirates of our nearshore waters, the jaegers. Fast and unrelenting, they chase terns and gulls in an effort to steal their fish, comfortable atop the local seabird food chain. But for at least one day this past weekend, the jaegers fell a few rungs on the seabird corporate ladder. A true pirate of the Caribbean was in town - a Magnificent Frigatebird was photographed on Stellwagen Bank.

JimGain bit.ly/2rJnoVW / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

I always underestimate June. In my head, it marks the sad end of spring migration and all the giddy rediscovery that goes with it. Hearing the song of a warbler you haven’t heard in a year, seeing them and the Arctic nesting shorebirds in the full glory of their breeding plumage for just a few short weeks, and new local breeding birds arriving every day.

Such are the joys of May. I think of June as the doldrums between the spring and fall migrations. And June always proves me wrong.

Mark Faherty

While monitoring shorebirds on Mass Audubon’s Tern Island in Chatham last week, I came across an individual bird that illustrated the hemispheric scope of bird migration, and shed some light on the struggles of a threatened Arctic nesting shorebird population.

OHFalcon72 goo.gl/3DNltw / goo.gl/cefU8

For a few glorious days last week, we had spring. Or was it summer? It felt like we went from March to August in one day. Such is Cape Cod in spring. But with the warm weather came the long awaited fallout of May migrants—the warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and even shorebirds that we only get for a few weeks each May.

Maark Faherty

As the dust continues to settle after Mass Audubon’s statewide fundraiser and epic birding blitz known as Bird-a-thon, we team captains are tallying the results to submit to headquarters. At stake is the vaunted Brewster Cup, awarded to the sanctuary reporting the most species in the 24-hours of Bird-a-thon.

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