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
5:52 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Christmas Bird Counts Underway and Already Yielding Great Surprises

A Yellow-throated Warbler was spotted in this year's Christmas Bird Counts.
Credit Paul Hurtado / flickr

The week just passed had a remarkable assemblage of birds found on the Cape and Islands from across the taxonomic realm of birds found in New England. The first Christmas Bird Counts were conducted with the Outer Cape Count being conducted on December 14. Also on this day was the Newport R.I./Westport, MA. CBC and the Greater Boston Count. All counts enjoyed spectacular weather. The winds were light and variable with periods of sun and partial overcast-ideal and rare conditions for a Christmas Bird Count!

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Weekly Bird Report
3:17 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

December Brings Birders (and Bird Counters) into Streets and Backyards

Taxonomists have recently divided the familiar Canada Goose into two species - now known as Canada Goose and Cackling Goose - a decision that has caused controversy among birders.
Credit Magnus Ekhall / Wikimedia Commons

The weather has resembled a roller coaster ride over the past six weeks. After an all-too-early chilly snap pre-Thanksgiving that made us realize that winter was arriving very early, things warmed up a little. The following milder spell has, however, now skipped off south and we are seeing a return to chillier conditions. After a rain-drenched day yesterday, following brutal weather this past weekend-hopes and wishes, the prospects have dimmed for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, which start this weekend on December 14 with the Outer Cape CBC and proceed thru Jan 5. 2015.

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Weekly Bird Report
1:57 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Sightings of Kittiwakes a Rare Seasonal Treat for Birders

Black-legged Kittiwake
Credit Vern Laux

There is a medium-sized gull that spends the winter in considerable numbers along the edges of the Continental shelf well over a hundred miles out to sea. Occasionally they occur in near-shore waters and they are occasionally abundant in winter in Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound. This pelagic gull is very long-winged and flies differently than its inshore relatives. It is quite at home on the storm-roiled waters of the North Atlantic in mid-winter, unlike so many other creatures, particularly anyone reading this. 

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Weekly Bird Report
5:59 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Overwintering Birds Provide a Spectacle for Cape and Islands Birdwatchers

Bonaparte's Gull
Credit Alan Vernon / flickr

The end of November is an exciting time of year on the Cape and Islands. From a birding perspective, the birding is exceptional - better than anywhere else in New England at this season. The possibility of some extralimital vagrant, the sheer numbers of birds still around that over winter here, and the lovely light and scenery of late autumn, all combine to make being on the Cape and Islands for Thanksgiving something to be truly grateful for.

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Weekly Bird Report
2:28 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

A Winter for Owls? Snowies Return and Saw-whets Appear in Numbers

Saw-whet Owl on Nantucket
Credit Vern Laux

The question that been coming my way since last spring was will the Snowy Owls that spent the winter in larger numbers than ever before in our area last winter return to spend another winter. Simple, straight forward question but not an easy one to answer. This historic incursion points out just how little we know about not only Snowy Owls but pretty much everything else as well. 

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Weekly Bird Report
4:53 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Will Snowy Owls Return in Big Numbers This Winter? Birdwatchers Wait to See

Snowy Owl Singing at Dusk
Credit Vern Laux

The question that keeps coming my way and has since last spring is will the Snowy Owls that spent the winter in larger numbers than ever before in our area last winter return to spend another winter. Simple, straight forward question but not an easy one to answer. This historic incursion points out just how little we know about not only Snowy Owls but pretty much everything else as well.  

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Weekly Bird Report
2:17 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Protected Birds Face Human Predators on their Southward Migration

Credit Vern Laux

I derive great pleasure when looking at Arctic-hatched immature sandpipers during the fall months, the birds oblivious to the hulking mammal (that would be me) that outweighs them by thousands of times, allowing for a close approach and excellent views.

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Weekly Bird Report
1:55 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Prepare Your Bird Feeders and Birdbath for the Season Ahead

Hard-to-attract eastern bluebirds, notoriously beautiful birds, can hardly pass up a heated bird bath in winter.
Credit Jim Hickcox / flickr

If you are feeding birds. it's nothing to take lightly. As you enjoy the activity and vibrant colors birds provide, then you are obligated to keep feeding steadily. Now that you have started you are committed and must not stop until the middle of April.

Most people find it most effective to feed different types of seed from different feeders. Some even provide cracked corn on the ground for squirrels, and some real squirrel feeders. 

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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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