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


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.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
6:20 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Falcon Migration a Highlight of Early October Birding

American Kestrel in flight
Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider / flickr

This time of year is so good for birding that it is hard not to get “spoiled.” There are mornings when the sky is roiling with migrant birds and it creates a sort of birding frenzy, with the observer just wanting to see more and more. This past week, with the weather being just OK, most days with more easterly wind direction than one hopes for, was really good for birding. Several mornings, seemingly inexplicably to the human observer and weather watcher, there were large numbers of migrant landbirds on the Cape and Islands.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
5:58 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Location, Location, Location: Why Cape-and-Islands Birders Have the Best Views of Fall Migration

American Redstart
Credit Vern Laux

It is hard not to notice the change going on in the natural world as we enter the month of October. The first of October heralds a major shift in bird migration and bird populations. As hours of light rapidly decreases, ambient temperatures begin to plummet and signs of the upcoming winter obvious and everywhere-birds are either on the move or preparing to stick out the rather brutal northeast winter. Either way for the birds-there is lots to do and lots going on.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
11:55 am
Thu September 25, 2014

For Birdwatchers, These Weeks are Show Time

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / flickr

  It’s Show Time in the natural world. The equinox has passed and excitement is here with birds of every description - running the gamut from loons, sea ducks, and large great blue herons to minute warblers and sparrows. From right now with a light northwest wind puffing thru mid-October it really is true that any bird from anywhere could show up on the Cape and Islands.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
5:53 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Fall Bird Migration Quickens with the Approach of Solstice

Credit Greg Schechter

Next week the Autumnal Solstice will occur and with it the change from more hours of darkness than light. All wildlife but especially birds are tuned into this, and with the passage of the solstice the fall migration quickens, as colder temperatures and shorter days foretell the coming winter.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
9:23 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

September Offers an Unparalleled Month for Birdwatching

Baird's Sandpiper
Credit Dominic Sherony / flickr

Nantucket ornithologist Vernon Laux makes no secret of his love for birding throughout the month of September. He says it's the best time of year to watch birds.

Audio of this week's essay is posted above. Today's essay first aired in September two years ago.

Read more
Science & Environment
9:32 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

September Brings Best-of-the-Year Birding, Many Great Sightings

Black-capped Petrel
Credit cotinis / flickr

This is the time of year that anyone with an interest in birds on the Cape and Islands has been waiting for. From now through October, not only is the birding the best of the year but pretty much the best of everything occurs - including home-grown vegetables, lots of fresh fish and greatly reduced crowds and traffic. I am already ruing the fact that 3 days are gone in September and the fall is proceeding much too rapidly. That said, the birding, as always happens when Labor Day Weekend occurs, has gotten much better and each day holds great promise.

Read more
Weekly Bird Report
1:27 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Fueling Up: Visiting Migrant Birds Will Soon Fly Non-Stop from Cape Cod to South America

Whimbrels are among the long-distance migrants currently visiting our region.
Credit Dan Berard / flickr

July flew by and so now are migrant birds in larger numbers. With August upon us, bird migration has begun in earnest for many species, especially Arctic nesting shorebirds. These long distance travelers are literally the wind birds as they cruise from the High Arctic in the northern reaches of land on the planet to the southern end of the continents in the Southern Hemisphere. They keep to a travel schedule that we really cannot imagine.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more