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.

pradeepkumar.devadoss / flickr /


On Sunday, a birding group from Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay was sorting through migrant shorebirds on Morris Island in Chatham. The usual suspects were in place – Semipalmated Sandpipers newly arrived from Brazil; Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Ruddy Turnstones all in their breeding finery, plus shrieking Willets defending their nearby nests.

Mark Faherty


The madness of another Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon has come and gone, and those of us who participated have mostly lived to tell the tale. Bird-a-thon is a 24-hour, bleary-eyed birding blitz held each May to raise money for the conservation and environmental education work we do at Mass Audubon. I of course organize the team for my sanctuary, Wellfleet Bay, in an effort to see more birds than any other sanctuary. I have come as close as second place, though in recent years have had my clock cleaned by juggernaut mainland sanctuaries like Drumlin Farm or Moose Hill.

Photo Courtesy Kevin Friel


If there was a perfect physical embodiment of our slow developing spring, it’s the seriously tardy Snowy Owl that’s been hanging around Falmouth this last week. A veritable Old Man Winter of a bird, this apparent male has been glowering down at people from rooftops near Little Pond. 

Dan Pancamo / flickr /


Nearly a week of southerly winds has set the stage for migrants of all sorts to drop into the region, including a real jaw dropping species we’ll get to in a bit. This also includes those species we expect to arrive in mid-April, like Eastern Towhees. 

Michael Janke / flickr /


For those who know how to look, spring is arriving rapidly on the tired wings of migrating birds. Mid-April is an inflection point in the migration curve – the pace will only quicken from here on out. I suggest that you take this time to go out and refresh your identification skills on the smaller set of early songbird migrants, because in terms of the number of species coming through, things will be out of hand in a few short weeks.

Mark Faherty


I’m now several weeks removed from leading a birding safari to Tanzania, and now that I’m back here in reality-ville, it feels a world away. While I was gone, the first of the early migrants snuck in, like Common Grackles. Upon seeing some as I drove through Orleans shortly after returning, I said to myself – hey, Rüppell's Starlings. This was of course not correct - I left that grackle-like species back in the Serengeti. It took some time to adjust to the more pedestrian birds and mammals of home – as you know if you’ve been, even the starlings are spectacular in East Africa.

shell game / flickr /


When it comes to the Cape and Islands “birdscape”, which is the word I just made up for the collective avian sights and sounds at any given time, a lot has changed in the last month, and the influx of new birds will only accelerate from here on out. I can’t do much for you in terms of a visual identification review, this being radio and all, but with new birds arriving every week, I think it’s time for a spring bird sounds “tune up”, if you will.

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. 

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.

Feeding Birds, Part 2

Mar 13, 2019
L. Lerner


Last week I started an in-depth look at bird feeding including why we do it and whether it actually helps the birds. If you missed it, the results are mixed, but studies do show that, as you may have suspected, feeding birds can increase their health and survival. 

While it seemed like we might get away with leaving the shovels in the shed this year, it looks like winter finally caught up to us. I, for one, don’t mind a little snow on the ground, notwithstanding the 8-foot-wide plow ridge they inexplicably left in front of my mailbox. Snow means an opportunity to track wildlife, one of my favorite outdoors pursuits. And, more appropriately for our purposes, it means more birds at the feeder. So, let’s take a closer look at this curious and surprisingly recent American pastime: feeding the birds.

Some rights reserved / Wildreturn / flickr /


I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in northern New England a couple of times in recent weeks. I often feel drawn to the woodsy wildness of our northern states, even in winter. The big, girthy birches and huge hemlocks, the Christmas tree smell of Balsam fir, the crunch of snowshoes breaking the heavy, snowy silence of those north woods. 

Mark Faherty

When it comes to late winter on Cape Cod, and the knowledge that beach weather is still four months away, it’s the little signs of better things to come that keep you going. If you are paying attention to the birds around you every day, you should be brimming with hope, because they clearly are, too.

Nita J Y on flickr

Here we are knocking on the door of another Valentine’s Day, which means it’s time we had the talk… the talk about the birds and the bees. Before you relive any memories of teenage trauma and retreat to your happy place, I should point out that I’m talking about the actual birds and bees. In my never-ending quest to find romantic role models in the animal world, I’ve come up with some more examples of what to do, or not to do, this Valentine’s Day.

budgora / Creative Commons 2.0 /

I probably don’t talk about Falmouth enough. As an Outer Cape person, it seems about as close as Boston does, which keeps me from birding it very much. And Falmouth lacks the exciting seabirding and the history of rare birds of the Outer Cape. But a couple of very unusual sightings of seriously lost west coast birds has Falmouth on my mind.