Weekly Bird Report

 with E. Vernon Laux

Bird News can be heard every Wednesday morning at 8:35am 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

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Weekly Bird Report
4:43 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

When Gulls Look at Humans, They See a Free Lunch (With Chips)

Credit pgoiris1@bigpond.com

At this time in July, gulls are fledging young, the beaches are crowded with people, making it time to talk about behavior at the beach. Gulls are adaptable, and once they figure out how to find a meal they quickly learn new behavior. The gulls I am talking about belong to the following species - Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Laughing Gull. They have beach smarts, often operating like a rogue gang, terrorizing beach goers. They are getting smarter as you read this.

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Weekly Bird Report
10:54 am
Wed July 9, 2014

No Big Deal for Humans, Hurricane Arthur a Disaster for Ospreys and Beach-Nesting Birds

2-3 day old Osprey chicks. At least three Osprey nests on Nantucket lost their nestlings in the stormy conditions brought by Hurricane Arthur.
Credit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ / flickr

While most Cape and Island residents and visitors thought little of Hurricane Arthur, its arrival here on the 4th of July was very bad news for many nesting birds. Nantucket and the Outer Cape were lashed with Tropical Storm Force winds that quickly started from the NE at 7:30 P.M. at a steady 50 miles per hour, gusting to 70, until almost midnight with Nantucket reporting some hurricane force gusts accompanied by torrential, wind-driven rain.

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Weekly Bird Report
9:26 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Next Couple of Weeks Crucial for Nesting Piping Plovers

Piping Plover
Credit Kelly Colgan Azar / flickr

With the Fourth of July just a couple of days way and fledgling “baby” birds seemingly everywhere, there are some not-so-subtle changes going on in the natural world. Most noticeable in fields and woods is the rapid and pronounced decrease in bird song. Recovering from the exhausting ordeal of defending a territory, courting, mating, providing for a brood of young birds all the while on the alert for a wide variety of predators, the adult birds are eating, resting and growing new feathers.

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Weekly Bird Report
2:50 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Our Migratory Shorebirds Are Sychronized Travelers On An Epic Journey

White-rumped Sandpipers. These birds nest in the high Arctic, winter in southern South America, and have even been recorded from Antarctica.
Credit Vern Laux

As the days continue to lengthen, the summer solstice is almost upon us. While June is a time of frenetic activity for local nesting birds, my mind always wanders to what is happening much further north, in the Arctic. Everything in this land of extremes is so different from temperate and tropical regions that, for humans visiting the region, it is otherworldly.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:07 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Sooty Shearwaters, Travelers of the World's Oceans, Showing Up in Local Waters in Numbers

Sooty Shearwater
Credit Caleb Putnam / flickr

The Cape and Islands near shore waters are currently experiencing a visitation of Sooty Shearwaters. These remarkable birds are one of the most abundant seabirds on the planet and are found in every ocean. Their only need for land is for use as a platform to lay a single egg; they are dependent on the ocean for all their needs.

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Weekly Bird Report
8:38 am
Wed June 4, 2014

You Have to Sit on a Nest. You Have to Keep Your Eggs and Yourself Safe. What's Your Strategy?

Credit BlPlN / flickr

Birds, the most mobile and migratory of animals, are at their most vulnerable while nesting.

Right now the breeding season is in full swing for Cape and Island bird life. Some species - the Neotropical migrants that only have one brood - are close to finishing their nesting chores, while others like Mourning Doves and American Robins are well into round two.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:41 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

MA Birders' Big Day Almost (But Not Quite) Hits Jackpot: 200 Species in 24 Hours

Blackpoll Warbler
Credit Vern Laux

The Memorial Day Weekend just past was fabulous despite the weather forecasters being wrong about the weather for the entire weekend. The Cape and Islands had OK weather, throngs of people were everywhere and the familiar traffic patterns of summer reasserted itself for a short while. As always the birding was hard to beat and the last push of migrant landbirds arrived on the morning of May 25th as well as good numbers of shorebirds. Spectacular numbers of birds were seen at North Monomoy and off of Chatham all weekend long.

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Weekly Bird Report
10:48 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Migrants' Push to Return to Breeding Areas Likely to Produce a Great Weekend for Birding

Little Egret, similar to the one spotted on Nantucket this past weekend.
Credit Isidro Vila Verde / flickr

Last weekend as birders scoured the Cape and Islands, many taking part in a Birdathon raising funds for bird conservation, a wealth of birds were found. An egret from the Old World, a Little Egret was discovered on Nantucket where North America’s first Little Egret was discovered some twenty five years ago. A lingering Snow Goose and a Snowy Owl were also found, birds that should be long gone, far to the north of this region in mid-May. Despite a dearth of migrant thrushes, vireos and warblers, the determined birders managed to find many unusual birds.

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Weekly Bird Report
4:25 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Wood Warblers Show Off Their Gaudiest Colors At This Time of Year

Parula Warbler
Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider / flickr

We are fortunate to live in the northeastern United States with its fabulous display of remarkable, gem-like, wood warblers that pass by in their gaudy spring plumage, and then again in the fall when much drabber, when they are known as confusing fall warblers. These beautifully marked long-distance migrants are some of the best looking birds in the world. These small insectivorous birds spend the winter in the Caribbean, Central and South America and only grace us with their presence during a brief breeding season.

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Weekly Bird Report
10:57 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Spring Migration No Letdown This Year for Avid Birders

Brown Boobies, once unheard-of on the Cape and Islands, have been sighted with increasing frequency in the last few years.
Credit Cláudio Timm / flickr

The invasion of European shorebirds and Northern Wheatears to Newfoundland continues, as the keep arriving in unheard of numbers: over 200 Eurasian Golden Plovers, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 15 Northern Wheatears, 2 Redshanks and a Ross’s Gull. Sadly for those of us on the Cape and Islands and all over New England, none of these birds have been reported further south - they have all stayed in Newfoundland so far. As they get restless to return to where they wanted to go, they may yet wander to our part of the planet this spring.

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