Mark Faherty

Mark Faherty writes the Weekly Bird Report.

Mark has been the Science Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary since August 2007 and has led birding trips for Mass Audubon since 2002. While his current projects involve everything from oysters and horseshoe crabs to bats and butterflies, he has studied primarily bird ecology for the last 20 years, working on research projects in Kenya, Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest. He was a counter for the famous River of Raptors hawk watch in Veracruz, Mexico, and has birded Africa, Panama, Belize, and both Eastern and Western Europe. Mark is an emcee and trip leader for multiple birding festivals and leads workshops on birding by ear, eBird, birding apps, and general bird identification. He is past president of the Cape Cod Bird Club and current member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.

batwrangler / fickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Recently, one of our more flamboyant seasonal residents has been performing at a variety of obscure local venues, venues that you might describe as off-off-off Broadway. Performances generally take the form of a one man show, and they only work nights, so don’t even think about catching a matinee.

Mark Faherty

Every March, usually sometime around St. Patrick’s Day, the first Piping Plover scouts arrive back on Cape Cod beaches. Whether these first arrivals are local nesters or migrants on their way to beaches in further north, they always seem to cause a panic.

Mark Faherty

We should all be jealous of ospreys. They’re way better at fishing than we are. They spend their winters on sun-drenched lagoons in Venezuela and they visit Cuba annually without violating US law. 

Jamie McCaffrey / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Yes, I know, spring is coming. We’ve already had our complement of early spring Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles. Woodcocks are displaying, the first Killdeer have returned, and the increasing day length is starting to simmer the hormones of our resident Song Sparrows and cardinals, who are singing increasingly lusty versions of their territorial tunes.

copyright Steve Arena / used by permission

Lunacy is afoot at Race Point! On Saturday, for the first time in the long ornithological history of the state, a Yellow-billed Loon was seen and photographed at Race Point in Provincetown. 

Mark Faherty

If you feed the birds, then you may be feeding more birds than you had bargained for. Because where there are lots of birds, there are birds that eat birds. You might not be aware of the carnage, but if you look closely, you may see the telltale signs of bird on bird violence in your backyard.

Anita Ritenour / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sixty hardy souls steamed out of Hyannis Harbor last weekend aboard the Helen H, heading for the offshore waters east of Monomoy. But this boat wasn’t dragging for scallops or longlining for swordfish – it was chartered by the Brookline Bird Club, and their quarry was winter seabirds. 

Bryce Mullet / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

When the howling winter wind is piling snow drifts across your driveway, you might find it therapeutic to think about that iconic sign of the eventual change of seasons, the first robin of spring. In that case, I have some good news for you - the robins are already here! 

Mark Faherty

For my first edition of the Bird Report that's exclusively about birds, I figured I needed a slam dunk. A topic no one could argue with. So that's why I've gone with that species that defines “majestic”: the Bald Eagle.

 By far the biggest news in the bird world this week is the passing of Vern Laux. While Vern was “our” Cape and Islands bird guy, the news reverberated around the globe, as his many friends accumulated over a lifetime of birding, learned the sad news.