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. 

Ways to Connect

Tony Morris / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

There is a smallish gull that spends the winter in considerable numbers east and south of Nantucket along the edges of the Continental shelf. Occasionally they occur in near-shore waters and they can even be abundant in winter in Nantucket Sound. 

Kate Hannon / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

During the past month, it seems as though raging winds have never been more than a few days off. While intense weather, usually in the form of a powerful low pressure system with big winds and lots of precipitation (a three-day-long event called a Nor’easter), is almost a certainty on the Cape and Islands, it can be too much! The storms are disruptive and often damaging to pelagic birds, driving them toward and onto land – but they are an expected, predictable and ongoing experience that bird life has evolved to deal with.

Dendroica cerulea / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

November is a special month for birders, as vast numbers of birds pass by and many more arrive to spend the winter. This November 1st was amazing from Provincetown to the "so-called" southeast corner of Nantucket at Tom Nevers. The entire length of the Outer Cape, especially along the outer or eastern shore, was awash in small baitfish called sand lances, or sand eels. And they were present in numbers not seen in several decades in these waters.

Amy Evenstad / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

With increasing numbers of birders everywhere, it almost seems as if the birds can hardly escape detection. Birders, armed with fantastic optics in the form of binoculars, spotting scopes and digital cameras, as well as a plethora of highly detailed field guides, would appear to have the upper hand.

Dave Inman / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The fifth annual Nantucket Birding Weekend this past weekend was a great success. Despite unseasonably cold temperatures, better suited to mid-December, and raging northerly winds, a good time was had by all, and the birding was very good.

Linda Tanner / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Cape and Islands during mid-October is a fantastic place to be, especially for those of us enamored of birds - anywhere else in New England pales in comparison. It is a paradise for birders, the volume and variety of the bird migration, mind-boggling.

Bill Thompson/USFWS / CC BY 2.0

Many land  birds have been feeding and resting in the north woods for weeks, biding their time, waiting for the right high pressure system and northwest winds on which to make their first southbound move. All their highly evolved migration triggers, honed through countless generations, are telling them to head south.

Jerry Oldenettel / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

September is out of control for bird migration. For example, on the morning of September 14, from dawn until 45 minutes after the sun was in the sky at Higbee Dike in Cape May, New Jersey, an astounding number of migrant warblers were seen and counted, far surpassing any single flight recorded there. Some 56,636 were counted and 71 percent were American Redstarts. 

wikimedia commons

The arrival of the Labor Day Weekend and September, the perfect month, is the stuff of dreams for birders. This month has everything. Such as; typically fantastic weather, all species of birds migrating with their respective populations at an annual peak, the possibility of getting hit by the “great undeveloper” a.k.a. a big hurricane, and the potential for any bird to arrive on Cape and Island shores from anywhere. This month is full of promise and invariably delivers the goods.

Dominic Sherony / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A dedicated pelagic birding trip that left Hyannis on August 22 and returned on the evening of August 23 with about 60 birders aboard saw and photographed so many unusual birds that it raised the bar, so to speak, for future expeditions. There had never been a trip even close to this, and to say it was beyond all expectations would still be a very large understatement.