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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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.

Vern Laux

This May, with many of the flowering plants and emergent foliage just opening now at almost mid-month, has made the Cape and Islands pretty as a picture. The shadbush is blooming and in some places overwhelms the senses with its delicate white flowers. Meanwhile, lots of land birds have already passed by well inland and the spring migration at places like Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge have seen impressive flights of vireos, warblers and many other kinds of birds.

Amy Evenstad

Birding on the Cape and Islands, especially during the migration seasons, is all about the wind direction. During the spring we hope for moderate-to-strong winds from the southwest, which is the direction all the birds are coming from this time of year. Sometimes it brings “waves” of birds in the form of all the common nesting birds in eastern North America, and often many birds that nest far from here that “overshoot” the mark on the stirring south wind.

Laurent Demongin /

This is the craziest and least likely day of the year for accurate bird reports. At dawn this morning reports of porpoising Gentoo Penguins in Nantucket Sound would get any sane person’s blood boiling. This 3rd largest species in the world has never even been seen in the Northern Hemisphere. Oops - April Fool’s joke written all over it. It seems every year somebody gets me with a nonsensical, off-the-wall report. Good thing it only happens once a year.

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For birds and birders, this has been an extraordinary couple of months on the Cape and Islands, featuring really bad weather. Doesn’t get any colder or snowier - or at least it never had! 

Vern Laux

Spring is the time for observing the display of the American Woodcock, a birding highlight on the Cape and Islands. On the Weekly Bird Report, Vern Laux offers tips and strategies for locating the elusive bird.  Your search begins in a field surrounded by woodlands, just before dusk or before dawn. Your best bet is a clear night with little wind, but as the season progresses, the birds display almost all the time regardless of weather.

Vernon Laux

Another sign of what we hope is the coming of Spring: the osprey. Nantucket ornithologist Vernon Laux previews the bird's seasonal return to the Cape and Islands.

Vern Laux

On February 19, Nantucket Sound and nearshore waters were mostly ice-free. After the stunning cold on the evening of the 19th and morning of the 20th there was a dramatic change and water, water everywhere had turned to ice. Buzzard’s Bay, Nantucket Sound, Hyannis Harbor, lots of Cape Cod Bay near the shorelines and even nearshore waters along the south side of Nantucket had changed dramatically. Looking out from almost any shoreline made one think of Ivory Gulls and Polar Bears. It was a typical Arctic scene.

V. Laux

Dovekies are crazy cute, small black-and-white birds resembling nothing so much as a wind-up bathroom toy.  Once ashore Dovekies are in serious trouble as they cannot walk on land or take off unless on water. Helpless on land, they become victims of gulls and other predators. Humans, glad to take a little “penguin” under their protection, adopt others.

Sam McMillan / flickr

February on the Cape and Islands is the time for the return of flock after flock of red-winged blackbirds. The blackbirds add a lot of action and noise as they vocalize at any opportunity. This widespread species nests in virtually every wet, brushy or marshy area within its extensive range. This includes most of North America and all over our area.