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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Putneypics / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Hot fun in the summertime is a good way to describe what the birding has been like. Despite the scorching heat wave that has engulfed the entire country and is just beginning in this region, the birding is good and will only continue to improve. 

thenaturegeek / http://bit.ly/1CCZP4r

In a battle of enemies that dates back to before humans evolved, crows and owls have been at war with each other. Both families of birds are genetically imprinted with an intense, strong dislike of the other family. Without ever having seen an owl, a newly fledged crow instantly, aggressively, instinctually, knows in its being that it does not like the owl.

Peter Massas / flickr / CC2.0

The most beautiful raptor in the world, to this commentator's eyes, is the striking, black and white, rather large Swallow-tailed Kite, with its long thin pointed wings and an almost fake-looking long forked tail. One of these amazing birds was seen on Nantucket on July 1st and seen daily island-wide until July 4th, when it flew over a gathering of people on Tuckernuck Island having their annual meeting, just about 5 miles northwest of the west end of Nantucket. It was last seen on those islands on Independence Day and has not been reported again.

Vern Laux

With Independence Day falling on Saturday this coming weekend, the exodus to the beaches from the cities and suburbs begins in earnest. It's a perfect start to the summer season and - surprisingly - the beginning of the southward migration of birds. While land birds are finishing up the breeding season on the Cape and Islands or attempting a second brood, the spectacularly fit waders, sandpipers and plovers, are already taking flight on another leg of their staggering annual migration.

Hunter Desportes / flickr / CC2.0

This past weekend, was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Of course, every day is the same length and comprised of 24 hours so to be more accurate these are the days with the most hours, minutes and seconds of daylight north of the equator. The length of day causes me to pause and ponder the wonder of the seasons, the planets geography, and birds breeding biology to take advantage of both.

Vern Laux

The din of bird song at dawn and dusk is remarkable at this time in June. Familiar Carolina Wrens, Black-capped Chickadees and American Robins have already fledged one batch of young and are close to bringing off a second brood. Most single clutch birds found here are now busy feeding young. It is a moment of heightened bird activity. Vern Laux has details in this week's Bird Report, audio posted above.

This episode of the Bird Report originally aired in June 2013.

Neil DeMaster / flickr / http://bit.ly/1dGcPd3

The middle of June is the breeding season for all the birds that are currently visiting the Cape and Islands. From American Robins in your yard, to Eastern Towhees in scrub oak and shrubby habitats, to widespread nesting yellow warblers and common yellowthroats, the region is awash in nesting birds. However, perhaps the most interesting birds from a birder's perspective are the seabirds: the tubenoses and jaegers that spend the summers off our coastline.

Tim Hamilton http://www.flickr.com/photos/bestrated1

Baby birds require from their parents near-constant feeding. But cleaning up after them isn't so hard. Most land birds have developed a technique for ridding waste that make diapers look antiquated. Bird nestlings magically dispose of their excrement in little fecal sacks. The waste is packaged in a little white balloon for disposal, which the adults efficiently remove.

Wikimedia Commons

The Memorial Day Weekend, just passed, did not disappoint for birders or for outdoor activities. Historically one of the best weekends of the year for birds, it lived up to its lofty expectations. Most exciting and unexpected was the discovery of a species of tropical duck called a Black-bellied Whistling Duck. They used to be called Black-bellied Tree Ducks as they do spend lots of time in trees but they also whistle while most species of whistling ducks do not spend time in trees. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks routinely perch and nest in trees.

JJ/WCAI

Many years, Memorial Day weekend is the best of the year for birding. Historically, it is the hands-down winner for providing the most exciting birding of the spring migration, as both vagrants and visitors alike appear during this long weekend.

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