Weekly Bird Report

The Weekly Bird Report with Mark Faherty can be heard every Wednesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

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. He is past president of the Cape Cod Bird Club and current member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.

Andrew Reding / flickr / bit.ly/32E4tg5

This past weekend, an all-start cast of birders gathered in Nantucket, united in one purpose – to go all out birding the island in honor of the late legend himself, and the originator of these radio pieces, Vern Laux.  

A. Vince

This month's Bird News is broadcast live from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary with wildlife biologist  Mark Faherty and host Mindy Todd. Cold weather is here, and birds are coping thanks to their many special adaptations. 

Mark Faherty

A few weeks ago, my wife Emily and I packed up the toddler and the dog and headed to what has become a special place for us, Mt. Desert Island in Downeast Maine.

Credit Natural England / bit.ly/2CYFETX / Creative Commons 2.0

I want you to envision a 17th century, agrarian version of yourself. Superstitions are rampant and it’s generally accepted that ghosts live among us. You’re entering an old abandoned barn on some spooky fall night, when suddenly a white, spectral figure with dead, black eyes slips noiselessly past you, right before you hear this.

Nancy Ransom


As we head into the last days of October, change is evident in the bird world. Our backyard catbirds are mostly gone, headed for Central American forests. New ducks are arriving by the day on both pond and bay. Behaviors are also changing, as our resident woodpeckers, titmice, and chickadees are loading their winter larders by stashing sunflower seeds and acorns in holes and crevices. 

Mick Thompson / flickr / bit.ly/2VPW2MT

After wearing out its welcome over several days, last week’s never-ending Nor’easter finally passed, leaving a handful of smiling birders in its wake. Why are they smiling? Are they storm-damage sadists who are really into coastal erosion? Maybe, but many birders welcome a good Nor’easter, or, as you weather nerds may call them, macro-scale extratropical cyclones. That’s because these storms often come bearing gifts. The initial strong northeast winds can load up Cape Cod Bay with all manner of offshore birds from the Gulf of Maine, many blown inshore against their will.

gman25 / bit.ly/2os5Hx0


This is a time of year when it can be hard to imagine that birds are declining. With flocks of sometimes thousands of Tree Swallows swarming the dunes of Sandy Neck in Barnstable or High Head in Truro, marauding bands of over a thousand grackles storming through wooded neighborhoods, and massive flocks of sea ducks forming off Monomoy like smoke on the water, it can seem like all is fine. But a viral new study estimates that, in fact, we have lost nearly a third of the individual birds on the continent since 1970. So how can we reconcile what we see with what we read?

Mark Faherty

In my ever humble opinion, October is the best month to witness bird migration on the Cape and islands. While migration has been revving its metaphorical engine since July, October is when it starts to peel out and leave skid marks. Warblers and shorebirds are still on the move, and are now joined more and more by sparrows, seabirds, and assorted other migrants arriving from all directions. So what is it about this month that brings all the birds?

Peter R. Flood / flickr / bit.ly/2mGDJfx

If you listen regularly, you know that I occasionally report on the so called Extreme Pelagic birding trips run by the vaunted Brookline Bird Club. Well, those wacky, ocean going birders were at it again this past weekend, when, on a quest for rare seabirds, they steamed out of Hyannis aboard the Helen H. 

Tom Benson / flickr / bit.ly/2mn04Pj

It’s a global world. You hear that a lot these days, and while this statement has all the keen insight of the equally inane modern cliché “it is what it is”, there is a certain amount of truth in it. And at no time is the natural world more “global” than during bird migration, especially on the Cape and Islands. You could spend an entire middle school geography course studying the countries of origin of the birds that pass through here. 

Mark Faherty


September is a great time to add plants to the yard to benefit wildlife. Last week I covered some trees, shrubs, and hummingbird plants to liven up your property, and I promised to cover perennials this week. 

John James Audubon

September on the Cape and Islands is full of potential for finding interesting birds. On The Point, Mark Faherty, wildlife biologist at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, joins our host Mindy Todd to discuss the monthly reports and share tips on where to find the bird hot spots. 

Jason Means / flickr / bit.ly/2lx0fqK


September is a great time to think about adding some good native plants to your yard for the benefit of wildlife, like fruiting shrubs and trees as well as perennials that attract insects and birds alike. Based on what I've learned from my own yards over the years, from researching the literature, and from managing the pollinator garden at Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary, I’m here offering some of my top plant recommendations in the categories of landscape trees and shrubs for both birds and bees, and hummingbirds plants. 

The Migration South

Aug 28, 2019
Don McCullough / bit.ly/2Zu02Hj


In the midst of this fall weather preview, it feels more natural to be talking about southbound bird migration. While the migration is sometimes subtle, with local birds like Orchard Orioles, Yellow Warblers, and Purple Martins quietly slipping away in the dark of night, shorebird migration is more obvious.