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

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.

Putneypics / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Hot fun in the summertime is a good way to describe what the birding has been like. Despite the scorching heat wave that has engulfed the entire country and is just beginning in this region, the birding is good and will only continue to improve. 

thenaturegeek / http://bit.ly/1CCZP4r

In a battle of enemies that dates back to before humans evolved, crows and owls have been at war with each other. Both families of birds are genetically imprinted with an intense, strong dislike of the other family. Without ever having seen an owl, a newly fledged crow instantly, aggressively, instinctually, knows in its being that it does not like the owl.

Peter Massas / flickr / CC2.0

The most beautiful raptor in the world, to this commentator's eyes, is the striking, black and white, rather large Swallow-tailed Kite, with its long thin pointed wings and an almost fake-looking long forked tail. One of these amazing birds was seen on Nantucket on July 1st and seen daily island-wide until July 4th, when it flew over a gathering of people on Tuckernuck Island having their annual meeting, just about 5 miles northwest of the west end of Nantucket. It was last seen on those islands on Independence Day and has not been reported again.

Vern Laux

With Independence Day falling on Saturday this coming weekend, the exodus to the beaches from the cities and suburbs begins in earnest. It's a perfect start to the summer season and - surprisingly - the beginning of the southward migration of birds. While land birds are finishing up the breeding season on the Cape and Islands or attempting a second brood, the spectacularly fit waders, sandpipers and plovers, are already taking flight on another leg of their staggering annual migration.

Hunter Desportes / flickr / CC2.0

This past weekend, was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Of course, every day is the same length and comprised of 24 hours so to be more accurate these are the days with the most hours, minutes and seconds of daylight north of the equator. The length of day causes me to pause and ponder the wonder of the seasons, the planets geography, and birds breeding biology to take advantage of both.

Vern Laux

The din of bird song at dawn and dusk is remarkable at this time in June. Familiar Carolina Wrens, Black-capped Chickadees and American Robins have already fledged one batch of young and are close to bringing off a second brood. Most single clutch birds found here are now busy feeding young. It is a moment of heightened bird activity. Vern Laux has details in this week's Bird Report, audio posted above.

This episode of the Bird Report originally aired in June 2013.

Neil DeMaster / flickr / http://bit.ly/1dGcPd3

The middle of June is the breeding season for all the birds that are currently visiting the Cape and Islands. From American Robins in your yard, to Eastern Towhees in scrub oak and shrubby habitats, to widespread nesting yellow warblers and common yellowthroats, the region is awash in nesting birds. However, perhaps the most interesting birds from a birder's perspective are the seabirds: the tubenoses and jaegers that spend the summers off our coastline.

Tim Hamilton http://www.flickr.com/photos/bestrated1

Baby birds require from their parents near-constant feeding. But cleaning up after them isn't so hard. Most land birds have developed a technique for ridding waste that make diapers look antiquated. Bird nestlings magically dispose of their excrement in little fecal sacks. The waste is packaged in a little white balloon for disposal, which the adults efficiently remove.

Wikimedia Commons

The Memorial Day Weekend, just passed, did not disappoint for birders or for outdoor activities. Historically one of the best weekends of the year for birds, it lived up to its lofty expectations. Most exciting and unexpected was the discovery of a species of tropical duck called a Black-bellied Whistling Duck. They used to be called Black-bellied Tree Ducks as they do spend lots of time in trees but they also whistle while most species of whistling ducks do not spend time in trees. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks routinely perch and nest in trees.

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