Weekly Bird Report

with E. Vernon Laux

The Weekly Bird Report can be heard every Wednesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

Vern is the author of Bird News: Vagrants and Visitors on a Peculiar Island. He also writes a bird column for the Cape Cod Times, and writes Nantucket's "Natural World" for the Inquirer and Mirror. He is the resident naturalist and land manager at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation on Nantucket.

For archives of Bird News, including episodes dating from before October 2012, go to the Bird News Archives

Laurent Demongin / http://ibc.lynxeds.com

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.

wikimedia commons

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.

Matt Zaske / flickr

The bird that was chosen as our national bird by the founding fathers gets people’s attention.  In fact, the sight of one of these large, powerful raptors does more than attract attention - it excites people, even those who claim to have no interest in birds. Bald is a derivation of balde, an Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its white feathers, instead of a lack of feathers.

Vern Lauax

Winter is no fun for birds, despite the cheery note of a Carolina Wren. On this week's Bird Report, Vern Laux discusses the stresses birds face this time of year, and gives tips for helping birds survive. Consider a heated birdbath, keep the food coming - and maybe you'll be rewarded with a sighting of an Eastern Bluebird!

MRHSfan / flickr

The future for birds, birders and life seems to renew each January. The allure of birds to birders, with their amazing physical adaptations, feathers, mastery of the air and stunning migrations to the ends of the earth are at once fascinating and mysterious.