Weekly Bird Report | WCAI

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.

Mark Faherty

One of the biggest bird stories this winter has been the record number of Painted Buntings on the Cape, of which there have been upwards of nine individuals. The common-sense guess for the number of Painted Buntings on Cape Cod is of course zero – this colorful southern species breeds north barely into North Carolina and winters in tropical climes. This is a bird that should live the entirety of its natural life without seeing so much as frost on the windshield, never mind snow and ice. 

Ian Preston

‘Tis the season for ducks - January is prime time to grab the mittens (or t-shirt and sunglasses, you never know anymore) and head to your local lakes and ponds to survey the waterfowl scene. At this point in the winter there has been sufficient time for ducks to arrive as ponds to our north and west freeze up. 

Liam Waters

It’s finally over – after a whirlwind three weeks of intense birding, of wind and rain, calm and cold, the 2019 Christmas Bird Count season came to a close this past Saturday with the Martha’s Vineyard count. My back of the envelope calculations put the total species seen on the Cape and Islands counts at somewhere north of 170 species – pretty good bird diversity for this windswept winter landscape.

Mark Faherty

Most of this year’s Christmas Bird Counts are in the book, with Truro and Martha’s Vineyard coming up later this week. While we wait for these last counts to be tallied, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from the counts I’ve done this year. You may be surprised to learn that they don’t all involve birds.

bit.ly/2t4mdFy / Michael Klotz

If you’re new to the concept of Christmas Bird Counts, you may think that today is the day that birders are fanning out across the landscape armed with clipboards and expensive optics, ready to tally every last chickadee and Mallard. While that was true back when ornithologist Frank Chapman organized the first count exactly 120 years ago today, the modern counts take place between December 14 and January 5. With around 2500 count circles across North America, we probably couldn’t muster the personnel to get those done all in one day, let alone Christmas day. So far this year we have four Cape and Islands counts plus Plymouth in the books, so let’s check in on the results.

The Mysterious, Rare, and Declining Short-eared Owl

Dec 18, 2019
Peter Flood

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that, for the second year in a row, the northeast is a little light on Snowy Owls. So far this year we have just a few from the Cape and Islands, significantly fewer than last year at this time. Even primo spots, like Nauset Beach in Orleans and Jeremy Point in Wellfleet have yet to generate a report, which is unusual. 

Stan Lupo / flickr / bit.ly/2Px3J7X

If you’re into bird-related citizen science, then this is your month. From the Cape Cod Waterfowl Census, to the Christmas Bird Counts, to Project FeederWatch, December offers several ways to contribute to long-term studies of bird populations on Cape Cod and beyond. You just need some binoculars and, depending on the project, some basic bird knowledge.

Carolyn Longworth

With the snow flying as I write, and a few wintry cold fronts already under our belt, it may not seem like prime time for finding rare birds from around the globe. But once again this week, feathered visitors from weird places have descended upon us, demanding my attention.

Mark Faherty

If a rare bird shows up, but no “birder” sees it, was it really there? This was the deep, metaphysical question I was pondering this week, thanks to the emergence of some shadowy reports and blurry photos depicting one of the rarest birds on the Cape in many years. 

Mark Faherty

While birds like robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and goldfinches are still on the move, for the most part, songbird migration is over, symbolically marked by the arrival of juncos. Here on the Cape, it’s the comings and goings of waterfowl and seabirds that defines November. From quiet ponds to raging surf, backshore to bay, the winter waterbirds are here, and they are hungry.

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.