Vern Laux

Vern Laux is a bird expert, butterfly enthusiast, international bird tour leader, educator, radio commentator, columnist and author who also happens to love to fish. Vern has birded extensively all over North America, living in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Alaska and has spent time birding in virtually every other state. He knows how fortunate he has been to have been birding on all 7 continents, including over 20 trips to the Antarctic, to observe birds, and some of the most spectacular wildlife and scenery on the planet.

He has written thousands of newspaper columns about birds and the natural world appearing in the New York Times, the Cape Cod Times, the Martha’s Vineyard Times, Vineyard Gazette, and Nantucket’s Inquirer and Mirror, published magazine articles in a variety of magazines including Birder’s World, Birding and Nantucket Today, and authored the book Bird News-Vagrants And Visitors On A Peculiar Island

Passionate about wildlife, especially birds and butterflies, his favorite group are shorebirds, fabulous globe-trotting migrants that fly to the “ends of the earth” twice annually. Vern was the ABC News “Person of the Week” with host Peter Jennings, the last Friday in August, 2004 after finding the rarest bird in the Americas so far this century a Red-footed Falcon. He lives on Nantucket and is the Resident Naturalist, Land Manager and Education Director for the Linda Loring Nature Foundation. 

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Weekly Bird Report
11:53 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Nantucket Birding Festival Highlights Include Rare View of a Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit
Credit Dave Inman / flickr

What a fabulous weekend we experienced on the Cape and Islands this past weekend. Ideal weather for almost any activity with mild temperatures and lots of sun but little in the way of northwesterly winds to aid in bringing birds to our region. Nonetheless there were birders out all over and Nantucket Island enjoyed its 4th annual Nantucket Birding Festival which saw that island birded extensively. There were lots of birds and lots of happy birders viewing them.

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Weekly Bird Report
2:27 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Back from Brink of Extinction, World's Fastest Bird Continues to Awe Watchers

Peregrine falcon and its recently acquired next meal.
Credit Don Sutherland / flickr

A momentous thing happened in August of 1999. The fastest bird in the world - a bird that has been seen plummeting in a dive at over 240 miles per hour - the peregrine falcon was taken off the endangered species list. The ceremony was held out in Boise, Idaho on the 22nd August of that year. It is a wonderful and altogether rare success story.

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Weekly Bird Report
6:20 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Falcon Migration a Highlight of Early October Birding

American Kestrel in flight
Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider / flickr

This time of year is so good for birding that it is hard not to get “spoiled.” There are mornings when the sky is roiling with migrant birds and it creates a sort of birding frenzy, with the observer just wanting to see more and more. This past week, with the weather being just OK, most days with more easterly wind direction than one hopes for, was really good for birding. Several mornings, seemingly inexplicably to the human observer and weather watcher, there were large numbers of migrant landbirds on the Cape and Islands.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:58 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Location, Location, Location: Why Cape-and-Islands Birders Have the Best Views of Fall Migration

American Redstart
Credit Vern Laux

It is hard not to notice the change going on in the natural world as we enter the month of October. The first of October heralds a major shift in bird migration and bird populations. As hours of light rapidly decreases, ambient temperatures begin to plummet and signs of the upcoming winter obvious and everywhere-birds are either on the move or preparing to stick out the rather brutal northeast winter. Either way for the birds-there is lots to do and lots going on.

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Weekly Bird Report
11:55 am
Thu September 25, 2014

For Birdwatchers, These Weeks are Show Time

Merlin
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / flickr

  It’s Show Time in the natural world. The equinox has passed and excitement is here with birds of every description - running the gamut from loons, sea ducks, and large great blue herons to minute warblers and sparrows. From right now with a light northwest wind puffing thru mid-October it really is true that any bird from anywhere could show up on the Cape and Islands.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:53 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Fall Bird Migration Quickens with the Approach of Solstice

Credit Greg Schechter

Next week the Autumnal Solstice will occur and with it the change from more hours of darkness than light. All wildlife but especially birds are tuned into this, and with the passage of the solstice the fall migration quickens, as colder temperatures and shorter days foretell the coming winter.

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Weekly Bird Report
9:23 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

September Offers an Unparalleled Month for Birdwatching

Baird's Sandpiper
Credit Dominic Sherony / flickr

Nantucket ornithologist Vernon Laux makes no secret of his love for birding throughout the month of September. He says it's the best time of year to watch birds.

Audio of this week's essay is posted above. Today's essay first aired in September two years ago.

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Science & Environment
9:32 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

September Brings Best-of-the-Year Birding, Many Great Sightings

Black-capped Petrel
Credit cotinis / flickr

This is the time of year that anyone with an interest in birds on the Cape and Islands has been waiting for. From now through October, not only is the birding the best of the year but pretty much the best of everything occurs - including home-grown vegetables, lots of fresh fish and greatly reduced crowds and traffic. I am already ruing the fact that 3 days are gone in September and the fall is proceeding much too rapidly. That said, the birding, as always happens when Labor Day Weekend occurs, has gotten much better and each day holds great promise.

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Weekly Bird Report
1:27 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Fueling Up: Visiting Migrant Birds Will Soon Fly Non-Stop from Cape Cod to South America

Whimbrels are among the long-distance migrants currently visiting our region.
Credit Dan Berard / flickr

July flew by and so now are migrant birds in larger numbers. With August upon us, bird migration has begun in earnest for many species, especially Arctic nesting shorebirds. These long distance travelers are literally the wind birds as they cruise from the High Arctic in the northern reaches of land on the planet to the southern end of the continents in the Southern Hemisphere. They keep to a travel schedule that we really cannot imagine.

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Weekly Bird Report
4:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

100 Miles Offshore, "The Canyons" Offer a Last Frontier for New England Birding

White-faced Storm Petrel
Credit JJ Harrison / wikipedia

There is no place like being on the water, on a boat, at this time of year, if you want to see birds - specifically pelagic, ocean-loving birds. While ashore it is hot and crowded, out on the water the cool temperatures and seabirds conspire to make you mellow out and enjoy your vast surroundings. A human never feels as small as when out on, and in, the vastness of the open ocean.

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