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
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
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more