Weekly Bird Report

 with E. Vernon Laux

Bird News 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


Weekly Bird Report
1:37 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Bald Eagles Becoming More Common Across the Cape and Islands, But Still No Nesting Pair

Bald eagles sightings are becoming increasingly more common across the Cape and Islands, but the area has yet to see its first nest pair.
Credit Matt Zaske / flickr

The bird that was chosen as our national bird by the founding fathers gets people’s attention.  In fact, the sight of one of these large, powerful raptors does more than attract attention - it excites people, even those who claim to have no interest in birds. Bald is a derivation of balde, an Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its white feathers, instead of a lack of feathers.

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Science & Environment
6:38 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Extreme Cold Weather a Survival Test for Overwintering Birds

Eastern American Bluebird
Vern Lauax

Winter is no fun for birds, despite the cheery note of a Carolina Wren. On this week's Bird Report, Vern Laux discusses the stresses birds face this time of year, and gives tips for helping birds survive. Consider a heated birdbath, keep the food coming - and maybe you'll be rewarded with a sighting of an Eastern Bluebird!

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Weekly Bird Report
12:15 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Holly and Cedar Berries an Important Food for Overwintering Birds

Holly berries are an important source of forage for many birds overwintering on the Cape and Islands.
Credit MRHSfan / flickr

The future for birds, birders and life seems to renew each January. The allure of birds to birders, with their amazing physical adaptations, feathers, mastery of the air and stunning migrations to the ends of the earth are at once fascinating and mysterious.

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Weekly Bird Report
3:06 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

End of 2014 Brings Memorable Christmas Bird Counts

Harlequin ducks, similar to this one, were among the unusual birds spotted in this year's local Christmas Bird Counts.
Credit Marcel Holyoak / flickr

The Cape and Islands Christmas Bird counts have been memorable with more species recorded and really “off the charts” numbers of rare birds including many some warbler species that should be in South America. The counts have been conducted in fairly good weather with light winds and some sunshine. The birding has been great with many new record high counts of birds and a stunning number of rare birds that quicken the pulse of birders around New England.

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Weekly Bird Report
4:52 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Winter Season a Great Time for Going Owling

Barn Owl
Credit E. Vern Laux

On this week's Bird News, Vern Laux offers pointers for going owling. For birders, owling poses a unique set of challenges - and memorable rewards. Tune up your ears! 

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Weekly Bird Report
5:52 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Christmas Bird Counts Underway and Already Yielding Great Surprises

A Yellow-throated Warbler was spotted in this year's Christmas Bird Counts.
Credit Paul Hurtado / flickr

The week just passed had a remarkable assemblage of birds found on the Cape and Islands from across the taxonomic realm of birds found in New England. The first Christmas Bird Counts were conducted with the Outer Cape Count being conducted on December 14. Also on this day was the Newport R.I./Westport, MA. CBC and the Greater Boston Count. All counts enjoyed spectacular weather. The winds were light and variable with periods of sun and partial overcast-ideal and rare conditions for a Christmas Bird Count!

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Weekly Bird Report
3:17 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

December Brings Birders (and Bird Counters) into Streets and Backyards

Taxonomists have recently divided the familiar Canada Goose into two species - now known as Canada Goose and Cackling Goose - a decision that has caused controversy among birders.
Credit Magnus Ekhall / Wikimedia Commons

The weather has resembled a roller coaster ride over the past six weeks. After an all-too-early chilly snap pre-Thanksgiving that made us realize that winter was arriving very early, things warmed up a little. The following milder spell has, however, now skipped off south and we are seeing a return to chillier conditions. After a rain-drenched day yesterday, following brutal weather this past weekend-hopes and wishes, the prospects have dimmed for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, which start this weekend on December 14 with the Outer Cape CBC and proceed thru Jan 5. 2015.

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Weekly Bird Report
1:57 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Sightings of Kittiwakes a Rare Seasonal Treat for Birders

Black-legged Kittiwake
Credit Vern Laux

There is a medium-sized gull that spends the winter in considerable numbers along the edges of the Continental shelf well over a hundred miles out to sea. Occasionally they occur in near-shore waters and they are occasionally abundant in winter in Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound. This pelagic gull is very long-winged and flies differently than its inshore relatives. It is quite at home on the storm-roiled waters of the North Atlantic in mid-winter, unlike so many other creatures, particularly anyone reading this. 

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Weekly Bird Report
5:59 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Overwintering Birds Provide a Spectacle for Cape and Islands Birdwatchers

Bonaparte's Gull
Credit Alan Vernon / flickr

The end of November is an exciting time of year on the Cape and Islands. From a birding perspective, the birding is exceptional - better than anywhere else in New England at this season. The possibility of some extralimital vagrant, the sheer numbers of birds still around that over winter here, and the lovely light and scenery of late autumn, all combine to make being on the Cape and Islands for Thanksgiving something to be truly grateful for.

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Weekly Bird Report
2:28 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

A Winter for Owls? Snowies Return and Saw-whets Appear in Numbers

Saw-whet Owl on Nantucket
Credit Vern Laux

The question that been coming my way since last spring was will the Snowy Owls that spent the winter in larger numbers than ever before in our area last winter return to spend another winter. Simple, straight forward question but not an easy one to answer. This historic incursion points out just how little we know about not only Snowy Owls but pretty much everything else as well. 

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