Mark Faherty | WCAI

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.

jerrygabby1 / flickr

After years of teases, of leads that didn’t pan out, failed attempts and clues gone cold, the news I’ve been waiting for has finally broken. At last, we have “smoking gun” evidence of a legitimate Bald Eagle nest here on Cape Cod, one with a real live baby eagle in it. The eagle has indeed landed. And if you want to know where the nest is, listen all the way to the end for the big reveal.

Sean M. Williams

On the night of May 15th, several of the state’s elite birders could hardly sleep. The forecast looked too good to be true – southwest winds over a broad area to our south, then rainstorms out of the west continuing into the predawn hours. This could be it, the big one. The fallout.

Mark Faherty

This past weekend, the fickle gods of bird migration finally smiled on the Cape. To our south, favorable tail winds got migrant songbirds up and flying our way on Friday night, while a front coming from the west brought rain and unfavorable winds. These forces conspired to guide, then ground those migrants along our coast. 

Ryan Schain / bit.ly/2Lrc9vY

Weather-wise, this has been a pretty good month, if that month were February. But hopefully, now that it’s mid-May, most of the snow and multi-day wind storms are behind us, so we can focus on what’s important right now. And what’s important right now is warblers.

astro/nature guy / flickr / bit.ly/3dxU2kj

If you’re like me, you had a lot of neighbors return over the weekend, and they don’t appear to be self-quarantining. Weirdly upbeat in these difficult times, these newly arrived locals can be heard whistling cheerful tunes as they settle back in to their routines in yards and gardens. Many are even visiting crowded food establishments and communal baths of suspect sanitary status. Obviously I am talking about your local orioles, catbirds, and hummingbirds, and they got here not a minute too soon in these stir-crazy times.

Mark Faherty

With the welcome arrival of May and a little warm weather, bird migration should finally be kicking into high gear. And with that comes a change in our local soundscapes as locally nesting songbirds arrive and the males immediately get down to defending their territories.

Mark Faherty

So many things happened in the local bird world this week, a head-spinning assortment of headline material, that I’m having a hard time zeroing in on a topic. A Yellow-billed Loon, only the second state record, was found at Race Point in Provincetown. 

Andrew Morffew / bit.ly/2V7tPCs

Things have really been ramping up lately, and there’s been a lot of talk about when it will peak. Is it peaking now, will it peak in late April, or maybe May? And are we ready for it? I am of course talking about bird migration, which I assume everyone is as obsessed with as I am.

Ryan Schain

In the course of doing some solo field work to protect coastal waterbirds over the last week, one thing became clear – people are already out on the beaches, and in bigger numbers than usual for this time of the year. Many of them with big, galumphing, unresponsive dogs with little interest in social distancing, but that’s a topic for another day. Luckily for nature folk, some birds are also on the beaches. So let’s check in with your favorite, or maybe least favorite, local barrier beach birds and see what they’re up to. I’m of course talking about Piping Plovers.

Kelly Colgan Azar / flickr

While there is certainly much to see if you pay attention, even in your own yard, I won’t pretend that March is my favorite birding month. So I’m just fine with putting the doldrums of the past month in the rearview mirror and heading April-wards. For April brings hope of all sorts of newly arrived migrants, beginning with just a trickle. In that way, April allows us to get our bearings and refresh our memories before gently transitioning us into the hardcode and mentally demanding month of May, with its deluge of migrants, some singing songs we haven’t heard in a year.

Patrick Kavanagh / flickr

In this time of social distancing, I’ve been noticing some strange things in my neighborhood – my neighbors. People and dogs I’ve never seen before are now sauntering down the road, perhaps venturing further from their house on some nearby road than they ever before dared on foot. And though state decision makers seem to still be in a little bit of denial about how exponential growth curves work, we may be headed towards “stay at home” orders, rather than just advisories, soon, meaning we will continue to spending a lot of time in our neighborhoods.

Mark Faherty

If you are like me, then you are, several times a day, seeing a term that most of us hadn’t ever heard before – social distancing. In the effort to curb the viral scourge, all good people are being asked to keep at least six feet away from each other when practicable. 

2ndPeter / flickr

Early March can be a tough time in the birding calendar, because while we are more than ready for spring, spring is not quite ready for us. We seek flowers and songbirds, but March mainly offers mud. The first wave of migrants – the blackbirds, vultures, and woodcocks – have long-since settled in, and not much else is happening. While the coming weeks will bring the first real influx of Ospreys and Piping Plovers, migration for most birds doesn’t really get hopping again until late April. But there are still some critters to be on the lookout for in this time of mud, and many of them aren’t birds.

Judy Gallagher / flickr / bit.ly/2VQ4GNH

I began this unseasonably warm writing day enjoying a flock of amorous Eastern Bluebirds singing their way through my yard, battling for females and checking out bird boxes. Their perusal of my nest box real estate doesn’t mean much this early, but still served as a nice spring pick me up after some recent wintry weather. But there’s no question that this time of year, before the great greening brought by spring, before the songbirds return and nesting season breathes new life, literally, into the landscape, is still a time of death in the animal world. 

h.redpoll / bit.ly/3c9yFWu

Though it’s been warmer than average, it’s still February. The nights are typically below freezing at my house, and the days are often cold and damp – it’s not exactly time to break out the beach towels. So even in this unusually warm winter, we need the early migrants to keep us going, to let us know that spring is indeed coming, eventually. These stalwart, hardy birds of February are already turning up every day, so my goal this week is to prepare you to receive their message of hope.

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