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


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.

hjhipster / flickr

For the past few years I have been lucky enough to work with one of my favorite birds, the American Oystercatcher. Many of you most likely have seen one of these birds on a beach, or in a marsh, here on the Cape, the Islands, or on the South Coast.

These black-and-white birds sport a bright orange carrot-like bill. Often you will hear one of their raucous calls even before you see it!

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.